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#1 Aprillynn

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 10:04 AM

Please help me critique my son's paper. I'm having a really hard time determining if he's working at grade level, and if not, what we need to do to improve. Length, we know, is one issue.

 

Thank you!! 

 

11th Grade

 

Assignment: Choose one character trait you think Franklin possessed. Write a paper demonstrating he possessed this trait through evidence from his autobiography. 

 

Ben Franklin ~ The Picture of Industry

 

Benjamin Franklin is one of the most famous people to walk the earth. Some of us know Franklin as an inventor, others as a political leader, and yet more of us think of him as a writer. He played one of the largest roles in British and American history and his impact was so massive, that his face is on currency, statues, and even television, over 250 years later. This all begs the question, how does one man engrain himself into culture so firmly, that he is talked about daily, hundreds of years later?

            In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin mentioned thirteen of the important attributes found in both general society and Christianity. He resolved on a weekly basis to go an entire seven day period without failing to show a given attribute. When he mastered one, he moved on to the next until in theory, he had mastered all thirteen. Benjamin continued this until he had completed four cycles in one year. The thirteen attributes are as follows: temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, charity, and humility. Many of these attributes align with the fruits of the spirit which are mentioned in the Bible, which would explain why Franklin held them to such a high regard. But, what made Franklin so famous was not his morality as a whole, it was his industrious personality. Benjamin was never at rest, and was never satisfied with his current position. Instead of studying himself into a corner, like most apprentices, tradesmen and even scholars of his time, he broadened his education in all fields, from science to religion to politics. This broadening allowed him to increase his influence in society.

            Franklin was a politician, inventor, writer, editor, and friend of many. He changed the life of the millions of people who have experienced the worldwide change that occurred with the birth of the United States. He catapulted the world into a new age of democracy and creativity. The United States flourished and grew into a world leader, and none of it would have happened without the industrious Benjamin Franklin.



#2 regentrude

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 10:24 AM

Please help me critique my son's paper. I'm having a really hard time determining if he's working at grade level, and if not, what we need to do to improve. Length, we know, is one issue.

 

Thank you!! 

 

11th Grade

 

Assignment: Choose one character trait you think Franklin possessed. Write a paper demonstrating he possessed this trait through evidence from his autobiography. 

 

Ben Franklin ~ The Picture of Industry

 

What struck me on first reading is the vague nature of the essay and the weak prompt which I would consider more appropriate for a middle school writing assignment than for 11th grade.

A few things I noticed:

 

 


Benjamin Franklin is one of the most famous people to walk the earth.

 

This statement is subjective, a weak beginning to the essay since it states an obvious opinion, and the phrasing is cliche ("to walk the earth".

 

 


Some of us know Franklin as an inventor, others as a political leader, and yet more of us think of him as a writer. He played one of the largest roles in British and American history and his impact was so massive, that his face is on currency, statues, and even television, over 250 years later. This all begs the question, how does one man engrain himself into culture so firmly, that he is talked about daily, hundreds of years later?

 

That he is talked about daily is an unsubstantiated claim. Find some more neutral way of phrasing.

 

 


 

            In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin mentioned thirteen of the important attributes found in both general society and Christianity. He resolved on a weekly basis to go an entire seven day period without failing to show a given attribute. When he mastered one, he moved on to the next until in theory, he had mastered all thirteen. Benjamin continued this until he had completed four cycles in one year. The thirteen attributes are as follows: temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, charity, and humility. Many of these attributes align with the fruits of the spirit which are mentioned in the Bible, which would explain why Franklin held them to such a high regard.

 

The attributes from the 4th sentence should be listed after the first sentence.

What does "in theory" mean? Did he master them or not? Is there biographical evidence that he did?

Why is mentioning in the Bible an explanation for Franklin's holing them in high regard? The writer should delve deeper into Franklin's religious views before making such a claim.

 

 


But, what made Franklin so famous was not his morality as a whole, it was his industrious personality. Benjamin was never at rest, and was never satisfied with his current position. Instead of studying himself into a corner, like most apprentices, tradesmen and even scholars of his time, he broadened his education in all fields, from science to religion to politics. This broadening allowed him to increase his influence in society.

 

Do not start sentence with "but", "studying himself into a corner" is a colloquialism not appropriate for academic writing.

Where is biographical evidence?

 

 


            Franklin was a politician, inventor, writer, editor, and friend of many. He changed the life of the millions of people who have experienced the worldwide change that occurred with the birth of the United States. He catapulted the world into a new age of democracy and creativity. The United States flourished and grew into a world leader, and none of it would have happened without the industrious Benjamin Franklin.

 

Again: vague claim. HOW did Franklin change the lives of millions of people?

Unsubstantiated claim: "none of tit would have happened without Franklin. there is no way to know this.

 

I do not consider the writing assignment itself appropriate for 11th grade, and certainly not the execution either. There is no concrete, specific, biographical substantiation, many vague claims, many unsubstantiated generalizations. I can not accurately judge whether his writing ability would be grade appropriate because of the weak prompt. An appropriate assignment should invite, and require, deeper analysis.

Mentioning Franklin addressing the 13 attributes and establishing a biblical link would be the perfect jumping point to delve into an analysis of Franklin's interesting religious views, and analysis of which would be a more appropriate level for a high school junior.



#3 Aprillynn

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 10:35 AM

Thank you for your feedback! I've always found it hard to be objective with my kids' writing. 

The writing prompt comes from Lightning Lit: American Lit. Just curious if you are familiar with that and find it to be appropriate for 11th grade. 



#4 regentrude

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 10:39 AM

 

The writing prompt comes from Lightning Lit: American Lit. Just curious if you are familiar with that and find it to be appropriate for 11th grade. 

 

No, I am not familiar with that.

ETA: I am puzzled how this is a literature assignment. On what literary work would this prompt have been based?



#5 Jean in Newcastle

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 12:31 PM

The literary work would be Franklin's Autobiography (a literary work suggested by SWB, by the way, for 11th grade.)

 

My comments are that he did not actually do the assignment.  The assignment was to choose one character trait.  The paper did not do so - unless the one line pulling out industriousness in the middle of the paper was where he did that?  The assignment was also to give evidence of this trait from the autobiography.  I didn't see a single quote from the autobiography to support his industriousness.  My ds has written papers like this.  I've given them back to him and made him write out an outline showing the thesis - showing clearly that one character trait chosen and giving a couple of general evidences to support it.  I would have him then write the thesis paragraph from that.  Then I would have him write supporting paragraphs outlining with concrete evidence and quotes the details of each general evidence shown in the thesis.  Then I would have him write a concluding paragraph.  Not maybe a scintillating paper but one that shows that he knows how to argue a thesis from start to finish.  


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#6 regentrude

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 12:43 PM

The literary work would be Franklin's Autobiography (a literary work suggested by SWB, by the way, for 11th grade.)

 

OK, that makes sense. It was just completely lost in the essay since it never actually referred to the work. Btw, I agree with all your comments, Jean.


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#7 Aprillynn

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 01:53 PM

Thank you! Your reply is pretty much what I had already told him. 



#8 Teachin'Mine

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Posted 17 September 2014 - 10:08 AM

Seems like he was getting his introductory together but didn't get around to the thesis statement and then jumped to a conclusion of sorts.  As has been said, he needs to do the assignment and have supporting paragraphs referencing specifics in the autobiography which support his thesis.   Did he actually read the book?  It just reminded me of what someone would write on an essay test when they hadn't studied and were trying to bs their way through it. (This probably sounds horrible, but I was relating it to some essay answers I tried to pull off in high school when I couldn't answer the question asked.)  Was he trying to meet a deadline that he wasn't ready for?  His writing ability does show, it's just a matter of putting in the time and effort to do it well IMO.  But as was said, he needs to learn the rules for formal writing such as never beginning a sentence with "but".  Thankfully forum writing is very informal.  lol

 

If he's slacking because the assignment is coming from you, is there a writing class he could take where he's held accountable to someone else?