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In Desperate need of opinions on grade 8 Expository Essay


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#1 homefree3

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 07:17 PM

Below I have copied my dd13's  essay but encountered issues with formatting the document. I removed footnotes and citations.   I need an independent opinion of her writing.   I think she needs more practice in organization and word flow  but I am not sure which curriculum could help her the most.  ANY opinions would be helpful and greatly appreciated.   TIA -Terri

 

 

 

You see Star Wars everywhere these days, on posters, bedspreads, and bobble heads, yet, not many people think to ask themselves why are the rebels rebelling against the empire? Do they cause any damage? Do they do more bad than good?

 

 

The empire does things for almost no seeming reason, leaving people to question the emperor’s motives. They fill the media with propaganda to make people follow them blindly. Many people join the military because they believe they are doing the right thing or that’s what the posters say. Though many soon believe otherwise but, cannot leave. The military itself is expansive and covers almost all reaches of known space. Many of the officers there only respond to the emperor.

 

The emperor rules with an iron fist, willing to deal out punishment to anyone who seems against him. He gives the appearance of following the wishes of the galaxy but follows his own agenda. The emperor tosses away his officers like old toys when the have outlived their usefulness. He kills his own teacher once he has learned everything from him. Old veterans of the war he masterminded get thrown away in holes with no jobs. Many received faulty care because the empire did not want to spend money on them. Who wants to spend money on old men? He controls the media and takes sure the few bureaucrats who want to act cannot do anything. One of the more notable senators, Mon Montha, quits the senate because she is unable to create change there. She is unable to stop the “escalating outrages committed by the imperial military.” It was her speech on the news broadcasts that lead to the formal rise of the Alliance to restore the republic.

 

The empire is always harsh when dealing with could be insurgents. The accusations spike when Mon Montha leaves the senate. People who speak out get quickly silenced. You never see someone again when they have spoken out. They could be in a spice mine, an imperial prison, or even executed. Simple things like selling fruit without a license can get you sentenced to many years of hard labor. If you even seem associated with any insurgents you may disappear, never to be seen again. If you seem like you could ever be a security risk you disappear. For any minor infraction or even suspicious behavior you can disappear. The empire is known for damaging prisoners when bringing them to jail. A common fear is Stormtroopers because the sight of one usually means someone is being arrested. People are told the troopers are keeping public safety into keeping public order. Few believe the stories told anymore. It became hard for people to find the truth in anything. Many feel the squeeze of no way to speak out. They feel trapped within their own worlds, no way to change anything.

 

Before the empire and the emperor people were free to express themselves. They were free to do as they pleased. People could speak up and be listened to, not just silenced. Now people are afraid to speak up. The empire rules with fear, not accordance, like the Republic did. They damage whole planets to get materials faster. They kill populations of whole towns if they are suspected to be sheltering supposed enemies of the rebellion. In the movies and shows you see this often, many people are relocated to places where they are unable to make a living. You get propaganda at every turn. No protesters against every action. No real way to get anyone to listen to you. The senators will not listen to you. Many of their pockets are over following from bribes.

 

Many people choose to rebel because of this. Luke Skywalker fights against the empire because the empire killed his friend Obi-Wan Kenobi. Jyn Erso rebels because her mother was killed by the empire and her father was drafted to work on one of the empire’s many weapons projects. There are people like Han Solo, who get caught up into the rebellion and cannot get it in them to leave. There are people who finally step up to do something after seeing so many wrongs that the empire has committed. Zaluna from A New Dawn see sees numerous people get arrested. She finally decides to do the right thing and help people. Some people attack the empire from profit. Truly people rebel for many different reasons. The similarity is they want to help people, to be free, or even justice for others or a bigger pay check. These people let the empire know their answers have consequences, people like to follow the crowd.

 

Most people when wanting things choose never to look at the evidence against it like the economic damage the rebels do. They are supposed to be the good guys but, what are they doing for the deficit caused by the Death Star? Trillions of credits or dollars went into building it. When it is destroyed, who will pay for it? The banks that loaned the money now have no way to get their money back. The rebels certainly have no way to get that money as shown many times they struggle in getting resources. Many times, they have numerous pilots just waiting to get onto a ship. A huge amount of money went into building the Death Stars and they have no way to pay back the supplies and labors who built it. You see the rebels destroy ships often, even whole buildings. Where does the money to replace those come from? The deficit caused by the rebels should put them into a, essentially, great depression.

 

Remember before the empire there was economic instability from the Clone Wars. The empire gives economic stability and stable jobs. Most people are fine with the empire. They just go about their lives glad that the galaxy is stable. The Rebels remove what stability there is. Many Rebels are like Saw Gerrera. They destroy things and are quick and viscous in their lopsided justice. Sometimes they attack people for helping the empire or attack for revenge or even standing by and not doing anything. People like Saw make the empire increase their military presence and crack downs. If there were no rebels, there would not have to be high presences of military anywhere and the empire would slacken its grip on the galaxy. Therefore, if there were no more rebels the majority of vile deeds would stop. Rebels activity in sectors often makes it worse because the empire has to increase their presence.

 

When we look at the rebels, we have their story presented from their eyes, slanted towards them. We need to look for the bias and remove it to get a clear view. The rebels are always presented as do-gooders for the galaxy, undoing the wrongs of the empire.  All we see is the galaxy presented from their view and an all-knowing view at that. The rebels do not know the emperor “manipulated the Clone Wars for his own ends.”  They do not know the true extent of the wrongs the emperor committed to get to his position.  Only paranoid people think those sorts of things and they just get dismissed by everyone for being crazy. The first to act is always the crazy ones but, they usually just make a bigger mess. Many of them are considered “deranged and shell-shocked Clone Wars veterans” and no one in their right mind would follow them.

 

Most people forget that an all-knowing view can be bias. Generally speaking, most of the people in the galaxy are completely fine and it is only a few that rebel. There are many people in the right position to do something but, they do not. They are fine with the empire. Most of the heroes we know so well from the movies “were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Naturally, they became heroes.”[5] Most of them would have done nothing. Many of our beloved heroes were planning on joining the empire. In A New Hope Star Luke says he wants to join the imperial army and leave the barren planet. Many people like the empire because it gives them the chance to have adventures.

 

Star Wars has always been presented from the perspective of the Rebels. No one in their right mind would believe their cause is wrong and we have been presented their cause from their view. People try to always make you believe the other side’s cause is wrong and theirs is correct and you should join it. When we think about Star Wars from a broader perspective we realize that there are bad people on both sides, horrific deeds committed by both. We are just highlighted to the bad of the empire and the good of the rebellion. Truly they are just people.

 

 

 



#2 Paige

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 07:52 PM

I think it's quite good for 8th grade. It shows immaturity, but that's to be expected at her age. I'm not going to pick it apart like I would for my own kid, because I don't think the details matter for your question. I see a solid paper by a young student with a lot of potential. I think she shows enough skill that if you have her keep practicing with any good curriculum or something you come up with on your own she will grow into the writer you want her to be. I don't see any glaring problems that I'd consider unusual for her age. 

 

If it were my DS's paper, I would comment about word choice, style, bulking it up, etc. HOWEVER- I grade him against myself. I'm not a writing teacher but I've written plenty of good papers and graded college essays as a TA and I edit it as if it were mine. I indicate every flaw, every area for improvement, every phrasing that sounds off...DS says I'm too hard and his teachers in HS aren't nearly as picky as I was! I don't grade based on that, but I want to teach editing and reworking a paper until you find no more errors and nothing to change or until your time runs out. 

 

 


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#3 Farrar

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 09:44 PM

I'm trying to figure out exactly what to say about this writing. On the one hand, it reflects passion, it has a clear argument, it shows a lot of detail and love of the subject, and it has a voice that's very strong. She is very present in this writing. And while there are some awkward phrasings here and there, she clearly has a good sense of basic mechanics and grammar. There's a flow to the writing. She's 13 and this is, IMO (and as a former middle school language arts teacher), completely a solid platform to work from in terms of building her writing. So in that sense, she's in very good shape. You should feel good about all of that.

 

On the other hand, I have a feeling this doesn't do what you, as the teacher, wanted it to do. I'm not totally sure what the assignment was, but my guess is that you wanted her to write a thesis paper about *something* and she chose Star Wars, which is actually a great choice of topic. However, sometimes I think it can be harder to wring first (or early) thesis papers out of kids about things they love, just because they struggle to cut themselves off. The organization is okay. Like I said, it has a flow to it. But it's long and there are places where she seems to want to tell a story instead of lay out an argument, which gives it a bit of a meandering feel. One of the first challenges for writing is cutting yourself off and saying what you need to say in less (I am not awesome at this myself so I feel for her). The voice is so strong, which is awesome, but it's also not entirely the right voice for a thesis paper. For example, she's writing as if the Star Wars universe is real but also as if it's fictional, which is slightly awkward in and of itself. And, probably most importantly, there's no thesis, just rhetorical questions. In fact, she's obviously very fond of rhetorical questions and that's not necessarily a formal style choice I'd want to encourage.

 

I think if this was my kid, I'd want to revise this - not into a proper essay - but into a fictional Star Wars newspaper op-ed or something, writing as if it's all real and you're appealing to a particular audience. The voice is almost there.

 

Or maybe I would just want to leave it. It feels like she worked very hard on it and every paper is one where you learn something, but you don't have to learn all the things on the same paper.

 



#4 homefree3

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 10:39 PM

Paige and Farrar Thanks for the quick replies. She does love Star Wars. The assignment was her final for WWS Expository 3. The assignment was to pick a topic for a 1500-3000 word essay that was organized with strong topic sentences. Your comments help me define what was troubling me the most. It was the drifting back and forth between treating Star Wars an actual 'real' event or a story.

I will ask her to pick a point of view. She can either discussing this as a story line or as if it is real events.

Does wording improve with age? Her vocabulary is high but her word phrases are often awkward.

I need to think more about her writing curriculum for next year. I would like her to improve word flow and practice organizing and understanding the elements of a great essay.

I feel better that you mentioned it was grade appropriate. I don't have anything to compare with and my expectations sometimes are unobtainable. Thanks for your help.

#5 Paige

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 11:28 PM

I'm not an expert but I think word choice and phrasing will improve with reading, and especially non-fiction reading. Writing helps, but IMO only if it's followed up with editing by someone who will point it out. I had my DS read a bunch of good essays and good speeches. I used this as one of my sources. I think the essays we often ask of kids are very different from the literature they read and it helps to give them models of what we are talking about. 

 

You also may have noticed she doesn't really have a clear thesis that is introduced early enough. That kind of makes the rest of it seem rambling. I don't think it's unusual at 13. Was it a first draft? It's a fine draft. I'd edit it and send it back for a redo unless we'd already done that several times.

 

I have no idea where you started at in the beginning of the year either which makes a difference. I only want to see improvement over time and I wouldn't be happy if I knew my kid had regularly produced higher quality work and was giving me something that was obviously done in 15min. My DS could knock an essay out like that in no time and I'd be unhappy because I know he can do better. My DDs on the other hand, have a much harder time and would have worked all day on that. I would be thrilled that they had given me something so good to work with. 

 

 



#6 Farrar

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 12:44 AM

Okay, so, as I suspected, this paper, while a very interesting piece of writing, does not fulfill the assignment. If it were my classroom, she would be missing several things off the rubric. Most notably, that thesis statement. Before you focus on the strong topic sentences for the paragraphs (also missing here), I'd get her to write a LOT of thesis statements. I know you're looking at this and worried about the awkward phrases, but I think you might be missing the forest for the trees, so to speak. I don't think they're that awkward and I agree that they'll just improve with age and maturity and - most of all - practice. But the thesis statement? It's not even the type of paper required without one.

 

Since you mentioned doing the footnotes and so forth, I'd also say focusing on that might be detracting from the more basic issues here. That stuff is relatively easy to learn (easier now than ever since there are websites that will generate the citation format for you!). I don't mean to give short shrift to the importance of citing sources because it's super important for academic honesty. However, the more fundamental skill is getting the paper to have a thesis and have those strong topic sentences.

 

None of this should get you down. This is so completely age appropriate. And, like Paige said, progress is the most important element. She can get words on the page. She has a good vocabulary. She has things to say that she feels strongly about. She has a good sense of mechanics. Even if she didn't quite get the right organization for the assignment, she has a decent sense of organization overall. Really, this is not bad. It's a great place to head into high school.



#7 Kuovonne

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 07:36 AM

I agree with Farrar on all points. Your daughter has a great writing voice and is clearly passionate about Star Wars. She knows so much that it is hard for her to filter the information down.

Have you ever seen Lost Tools of Writing? It might be a bit below your daughter's abilty level regarding style, but it teaches a very specific organization pattern. This essay reminded me of the LToW format, but it lacks the clear thesis and transitions that hold the LToW pattern together.

#8 homefree3

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 10:22 AM

Paige

The resource, The Eloquent Essay: An Anthology of Classic & Creative Nonfiction, that you recommended for reviewing good essays is now in my Amazon cart.

It looks great.
Thanks

#9 Julie Smith

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 10:43 AM

I have no opinions. I just wanted to say thank you for posting a writing sample. I always like reading other kids writing samples, and seeing comments from others. 

 

One thing that impressed me was the length. :) Eldest just turned 13 and I don't think he could have the patience to stick with a single subject or idea to write that many words about it. When he is at the end of a project (usually about 500 words) He is DONE!

 

ETA: I thought I'll add my son's favorite sentence from his paper on Henry the 8th, "At his funeral his body exploded in a gooey mess which was licked up by dogs, but the remaining bits of it were buried beside his favorite wife, Jane Seymour."

 


Edited by Julie Smith, 26 May 2017 - 10:47 AM.

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