But the reason why I don't have time is important:
I'm reading every major assignment my Essay Exposition (SAX) class has produced. I'm going through 22 assignments, including a 4-10 page final essay about the purpose of school and how Redwood should be changed to meet the purpose of school more accurately. All of them have been added to a Mentor Mob playlist that the student manages, and hosted through a master MM playlist that I manage. It's a system that makes it really easy for me, but is also helpful for them.
Then, after I've read everything (much of which I haven't read - I worked with them intensely on just a few select pieces through the semester) I'm giving them feedback on specific essays (both on paper and as comments on their Google Docs). I'm analysing their voice and how it's changed. I'm seeing so many amazing sentences, paragraphs, ideas, and structures that it's pretty easy to tell them how much they've improved and how good I think they are now.
Is it crazy to try and give them feedback like this? Probably.
But if any teacher had done this for me at any point, I might have gotten much better at writing much earlier in life.
Here's what I'm noticing: I really really like their writing. And the assignments did just what they were intended to do - make them a better writer with better ideas and better ways of expressing those ideas.
Here are the writing assignments from the semester:
- 3-5 page definition essay on a memorable experience
- 2-4 page photo essay about literacy
- 2-3 page Snapshot of a Redwood Learner essay
- mixed media format Blank White Page project
- short Narrative List (similar to McSweeneys lists)
- 2-3 page Style Alike Essay on a McSweeneys piece
- 1-2 page New Food Review
- 4-10 page musicology project (with a YouTube playlist of all the songs)
- short Clearing the Attic prompt
- 1-2 page observation piece
- 2-3 page Your Choice Assignment #1
- 2-3 page Your Choice Assignment #2
- 2-4 page If You Really Knew Me essay
- 2-3 page Reading Timeline and Vignettes
- 100-500 word Exploded Image
- 300 word Write Something New (i.e. write something. anything. that's new)
- 300 word Exploded Image on the topic of homework
- revised writing conference piece (a choice from any of the essays we wrote)
- 4-10 page final essay on the purpose of school
- 2 page evaluation of the course
- 300 words-1 page analysis of their writing voice
Wow. That's actually a lot. And that's not even everything they wrote.
Also, any success I've had in this course was due entirely to Andrew Thomasson, who taught me how to do all of this, helped me design and teach the course, and even did writing conferences with me and my students.
Okay. Back to work.