During the workshop I attended today on incorporating more non-fiction, I had a huge aha! Usually ahas are positive revelations, but today’s was definitely on the negative side.
During our last unit (Do you believe?) we assigned the students a persuasive essay on whether or not they believed in alien life or not. This was an unusual assignment for us because most writing pieces we assign are open-ended. We thought it would be a good idea though because when we taught this unit last year we asked the students the same question in a warm up and it sparked so much discussion that we told ourselves we would make it a full-blown assignment for this year.
After writing the assignment and creating the rubric, we realized we had no class time to devote to the writing of the assignment. Rather than trash the whole thing, we decided to make it a take-home essay. Before we assigned it, I thought, maybe I can work in a couple of tips a day, you know, persuasive techniques. I wish I had gone with this gut instinct and maybe I wouldn’t feel so guilty now. I briefly looked for some techniques and when I couldn’t find some quickly on the internet, I gave up.
I still haven’t graded them because of the usual foreboding feeling the precedes grading one hundred essays, but also because I just feel like a lousy teacher. I’m still going to grade them; I would feel even worse if I had the kids do all that work and then I just handed it back to them with no feedback. At least there is a light at the end of the tunnel because of what I learned at the workshop today (see other post).