They have seven classes that are each chock full of assignments, projects, and essays.
Additionally, I’ve read enough books by Kelly Gallagher to know that showing your students your own struggle with the writing process is a legitimate teaching practice. I’m much less likely to assign an awful essay topic or give my kids an unreasonable amount of writing requirements if I’m doing it, too.
Recently my kids have been writing their own This I Believe essays.
People with a variety of different backgrounds wrote 350-500 word essays about a single core belief, complete with personal stories about how they realized or were reaffirmed in their belief.
There are a variety of beliefs that are discussed, like: “Always Go to the Funeral” or “Be Cool to the Pizza Dude.” When I asked for example essays from a fellow 9th grade English teacher, she gave me three of her favorite ones. At the end of the podcast, the classroom was at a standstill.
I had suspected it before, even preached it unabashedly to my students, but in that moment, twenty students and I simultaneously came to the same conclusion: This essay had impact.
All this to say, when I assign students essays, I do it alongside them.
We’ve started the graphic organizer, rough drafts are next week, and later they’ll record them for a class podcast.
If you’re unfamiliar with the This I Believe essay, it originates from a nonprofit organization that is inspired by a 1950’s radio program.
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