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how do I grade this writing assignment?

Rhonda in TX

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We are using Sonlight's LA this year and the writing assignment for this week was a descriptive essay about themselves. I asked for an intro, closing, and two body paragraphs - physical description and a paragraph about an interest. This is what my DD (12 years old, 7th grade) wrote. I actually love it. It's clever and reflects her so well. However, I'm not sure about grading it. If you saw this, what would you do about? (Obviously there is some grammar and spelling that needs to be fixed.) This is sooo not my writing style, and I don't want to stifle her, but at the same time, I do wonder about letting her go too far with her creativity when it comes to school assignments. (I think my logical math brain is getting in the way.) Thoughts?


Descriptive Essay


In which I bore everyone to death.

By [her name here]


In my defense, it's a school assignment. Normally, I would never turn something out like this. What do I turn out, you ask? That's beside the point, though, isn't it? Right, let's try getting to the point. (Normally, I don't have issues with this.) This is a descriptive essay. About what? ME! How boring. But let's get this over with. My name's [her name here], to start with this. You can see it up there, under the title, see? (Minus the 'by', naturally. That means I wrote it. But you would know that. Hey, another thing about me: I have a tendency to ramble on... and on... and on.)


I guess I should start with my appearance. I have short curly hair that's that awkward, not quite brown or blond, but somewhere in between (leaning on brown, I think). I have grey-blue eyes, with obnoxiously pale skin and a spattering of freckles. I'm rather tall, and people tend to think I'm much older than I really am. This can come in handy. For example, when my mother went to vote, she took me and my brother with us, under the fear we would demolish the house while she was gone. (Not as far-fetched as it sounds, by the way.) The lady at the door (to the voting place) said to my (older) brother, 'you're not voting,' looked at me, frowned. 'Are you voting?' I should add that I'm twelve and was, oh, say, eleven, ten at the time?


Interests (which implies I actually am interesting. Oh, I kid.) and personality next? Well... According to my star sign, Aquarius, I should be....


Aquarians have powerful, logical, and scientific minds. I'm good at logic, and I'm fairly smart, I suppose, but science? Hah. They are always open to new ideas. Always...? Sometimes, maybe. Aquarians have many friends but are hard to get to know deeply. Excuse me, I'm going to go laugh my head off. They usually avoid close personal relationships. Not true. I like those, you can talk about ANYTHING. Getting there, that's the problem. Aquarians support social and political causes with great enthusiasm. Yes. I have a pronounced feminist streak, and am interested in politics.


Don't know if that's entirely accurate, but, eh. My interests are really more in the creative field- drawing, writing, reading... And walking around with a pair of headphones glued to my ears with music playing entirely too loudly. I'm pretty good at drawing and writing, and read very quickly. I mean, reading the first four Harry Potter books in two days qualifies as quick, doesn't it? Music wise, I listen to everything from classical to pop to bizarro music from I don't know where to 80's music to... You get the idea. I plan on being a writer when I grow up and becoming filthy ri- I mean, uh, sharing my, uh, creative vision with the, uh, populace, and.. stuff. Heh heh. No, seriously, I'd like to write books. Fat chance of that, I know.


I think we're done know. Aren't you relieved? I guess that wasn't too terrible. And hey, this essay? Save it. You can say you knew me when. You know, when I become all famous from writing. I guess this is goodbye for now. And remember: In my defense, it was a school assignment.

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I wouldn't worry about grades, but you might want to have her write it from a couple different points of view.





  • an alien describing a newly discovered life form
  • a blind person
  • a parent
  • a rival
  • a younger or older sibling


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I talked to a friend of mine who used to be an English teacher. She said that while it's a great paper, and something to treasure, it's not a descriptive essay. She suggested that I assign her something else to describe, something more tangible. That way, she can learn how to do the descriptive essay, and I can enjoy the writing she turned in to me. :)

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We did this assignment last week and I would have given this an A. I think she did a great job of following the instructions that came with the assignment in Sonlight. She does go on a bit off topic. You could call those examples but its pushing it :lol:.


She did a great job of describing herself and used some of the examples (such as how she looks) that were given in the IG. If different instructions were given, I would grade this differently. However, I'm assuming you are doing Core 6 and if so, this fit!


ETA, I would not give her another assignment. She did a great job of following the instructions on this one. When you want a more formal tone, be sure to tell her in advance. My dd needs warning of this too :).

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It's lively and funny and her "voice" comes through very clearly. Those are excellent qualities in writing.


If you told her that she should use a formal or elevated style, she didn't complete the assignment appropriately. If you didn't specify, then she did. You might want to extend the lesson by talking with her about how the appropriate tone/style changes according to the audience.

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Thanks for everyone's input. I know that part of the "problem" is my lack of detailed instructions on what I expected. Lesson learned. :) I'll be more careful in the future to make sure she knows exactly what I expect. I can't be sorry about the results of today's assignment, though. It's just so... her!

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