Monday, October 22, 2012

Getting More Out of an Essay

One of the most frustrating exercises I have had as a teacher has been to get my non AP students to write essays.  First off, I have to hear the line, "This isn't an English class."  Secondly so many students simply do not write their essays, instead choosing to take the grade hit.  Well I believe I finally have found a successful way to get the kids to write essays.

  1. Help the students find background information by setting up categories for the students or even asking questions about documents if you are doing a DBQ.
  2. Put students in groups and use Google Drive to share their background notes
  3. Go over the fundamentals of writing and then have students write lots of the essay in class and share parts of it with the students
  4. E-mail parents that the essays are due and use Remind101 to tell remind students that it is due. I even, this time, had students share the essays with partners so they could give feedback.
  5. I made the essays due by 6 pm Sunday night and then put comments (note, no grade) all over everyone's essays.  When the students got to class I actually gave them a quiz on the main points of an essay (see #3) and then let the students look at my comments and then ask questions about it.
  6. Let my many ESOL students write their essay in their native language and then translate using Google Translate
  7. Then I told the kids they can fix my comments and share them with me using Google Drive by Wednesday.

The upshot is that almost all of my students wrote their essays and wrote a substantial number of points.  

2 comments:

theartofhistory.PA@gmail.com said...

I like your idea about having your students work collaboratively thru google docs. But,how do you get students to believe their assignment is relevant?

Ken Halla said...

Actually I teach them using an essay about their own lives. What I believe is important is both doing it in class and sending them reminders (using Remind101) that it is due.