Monday, January 08, 2007

So Much Has Happened

Let me say some things about my final exam. Given the two days before school let out, exams are rarely an exciting thing for me. At Phoenix, all students, 8 and 9, take exams so as not to disrupt the schedule and to help prepare our advancing 8th graders should they decide to go to a traditional school next year.

My final was simple. I gave the students 10 different writing prompts and told them to pick the one they thought they could write the most interesting essay about. From there, they had to brainstorm, plan, write a rough draft, revise and write a final draft.

Now, at this point last year, I gave the same final and realized I had a lot of work to do. This year, the results were amazing. One student turned in planning, a rough draft and a final draft. This is amazing because the student has a serious learning disability. At the beginning of the year, he gave me four lines in response to a prompt. This was after he wrote his name on his planning sheet - that was all, his name, nothing else.

The essay he turned in took the whole page. Not only that, it contained three similes. THREE.

While none of them is ready to be published, each essay showed tremendous progress. They're writing. More often than not, they're writing things that are interesting and important to them. They're good kids.

I need to get to the next level. Our state writing assessment, the test I was hired for, is Feb. 7. I need to get them excited. I need to get them focused.

I don't know how many times this year, I've told the kids, "You will get a boring prompt, that does not give you permission to write a boring essay."

Other important phrases include, "Write the good sandwich," "Write your truth," and "So far as I know, no one has ever died of a writing related accident."

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