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For some, deciding what to write about was easy and they began drafting immediately.However, the majority of students struggled not so much with what they believe, but how to write about it.
Although I enjoy reading the letters, the assignment doesn’t lend itself to revising and is written only for a specific, one-person audience.
I know building relationships with students is important and a way to get to know them is through their writing, so I did some research to see what other teachers were trying.
I talked with a few frustrated students about this strategy and they told me it made them realize they’ve never really had to think about themselves in this way, but ultimately, it gave them direction for their essays.
Because of block scheduling, I gave students about a week and a half to complete a working draft, which required having at least two paragraphs of their essay done.
Another focused on her family not having a big house when they first moved to America and how she’s learned to be satisfied with opportunities instead of possessions.
Power Of Individual Essay Essays On The Birds By Hitchcock
While this strategy helped a lot of light bulbs go off, it didn’t work for everyone.My rubric still has some typical writing conventions, but overall I think it focuses more on student voice than structure.I made it clear that students had a lot of choice regarding both content and format.I planned it as a year-long endeavor, something we could work on as a distraction from other essays required to prepare for state testing.This past year, I did not assign it until late April; it would be our last major writing task.Because the rubric leaves room for a lot of choice, I encouraged students to visit the featured essays site and not only read, but listen to real examples.I wanted them to see that this wasn’t just another run-of-the-mill assignment, that what they believe is important and writing is just one way to share those beliefs.The biggest restriction came directly from the This I Believe site: a 500-600 word limit.I know a lot of writing teachers are divided when it comes to word count, but I figured it was still better than giving a specific number of required paragraphs and sentences.I only gave a portion of two to three class periods to actually write in class; students were expected to write on their own time.On the day drafts were due, I set aside class time for revision.