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Lit analysis 10th grade (tog yr 3 unit 2)


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Here is my son's lit analysis paper.

 

The assignment was: Write a paper showing the variety of sensory details (taste, touch, feel, sound and smell) that Keats included in The Eve of St. Agnes, and explain how these details contribute to the overall richness of the poem.

 

Literary analysis of "The Eve of St. Agnes

by, Josh Truitt

 

The Eve of St. Agnes. A poem made out of the senses of the body: taste, touch, feel, sound, and smell. In this analysis I am going to outline each of the senses presented, how they were presented, and the purpose of each one in this poem. I'll start with taste. Frankly because I've

been overcome with the delightful desire to eat a luxurious pumpkin pie.

 

In "The Eve of St. Agnes," the feelings contribute so much to the poem. The eve was so cold. Keats wanted everyone who read the poem to feel the inevitable cold. Taste in this poem was not a big priority, however. In the first section, Keats writes; "His rosary, and while his frosted breath, like pious incense from a censer old." Basically this one phrase about taste is saying that the cold frosted his breath so much that he had the taste and look of his breath as of an old censer of incense. This cold feel of the poem has a lot more about touch, however.

 

Smell itself isn't a big part of the poem. However, you can just smell the incense and candles burning in the cathedral. You can smell the death almost. You can even smell the ashes and burnt crisp of the dead beadsman. You know how when it's just barely below 30 degrees Fahrenheit and your nose hairs start to stick together because of the cold? Picture feeling that on this cold night. I'm pretty sure everyone else in this poem felt worse than that.

 

Touch and feel are huge contributors in this poem. With the Eve being as cold as it was, it must have a feel to it; right? Also, Keats tries to show the feel of different things such as animals and armor to give the reader a feel of the environment in the poem: "The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold; The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen grass, and silent was the flock in woolly fold." This basically contributes more to the chilly and brisk Eve of St. Agnes. The owl, for all his feathers, was cold. It was also so cold that a hare with warm fur was trembling through frozen grass. What about the flock? Sheep -who are usually "baa-ing" -were dead silent from the cold. "Numb were the Beadsman's fingers, while he told" "The sculptur'd dead, on each side, seem to freeze. To think how they may ache in icy hoods and mails." The cold numbed the beadsman's fingers while he prayed. The sculptor was dead and laying on his side freezing. Also, mails and hoods are basically suits of chainmail. Metal gets cold and icy. Therefore, the people wearing it, feeling that tinge of cold from their armor must have been having one bad night. The first paragraph was talking about a freezing cold Eve. Now in this second paragraph it has turned into a deathly cold. Now, this deathly cold is frightening some people in the rest of this poem. Let's see what these people thought about the sound of death.

 

Literally, what's the sound of death? Well, in the eve of saint agnes, really the only sounds it talks about are the sounds of death. "And scarce three steps, ere Music's golden tongue flatter'd to tears this aged man and poor; but no-already had his deathbell rung; The joys of all his life

were said and sung: His was harsh penance on St. Agnes' Eve" This section talks about an old man who had heard the music of his life which pleased the old man to tears. However, his deathbell rang and it was his time to die. The joys of all his life, his life story and things like that were all said and sung. He died a harsh cold death on the cold of St. Agnes' Eve.

 

Now, I will sum this poem up and explain what it means. In the Eve of St Agnes, it was incredibly cold. The owls were cold, the rabbits were cold, so were the sheep. The look of the air they breathed was as thick as incense. An old man, a beadsman who prayed for people got up, took his lamp, and returned pale and sick. He walked by the chapel aisle slowly. The aisle was dark in a purgatorial glow and remains of old saints were hung because of a catholic tradition. Knights and ladies were praying in silent speeches. As he passed by his spirit grew weak as he thought how much they may ache in their icy suits of chainmail. He turned through a little door. Before he took three steps he heard the sound of music and it flattered his ears. But his death was coming soon. All the joys of his life were said and done. He died a harsh death. He seems to have been cremated? And all the sinners grieved for him.

 

The reason Keats decided to write so much about the senses of the night is because he wants the reader to feel the Eve of St. Agnes. He wants the reader to feel the cold, to feel the death. He seems to want the reader to feel the fact that the old man in the story was poor and died a cold and harsh death, but the old man was happy and lived a happy life. He wants you as a reader to side with the old man on this cold night. This is what he wants you to feel: the old man's pain, the bitter cold, the frost on your tongue, to hear the music of the death bells ringing for the old man, to feel the pain of frostbite that everyone else felt in this poem to smell the incense, the bitter cold, he wants you to feel the heartache of the old man, and the harsh night of the Eve of St. Agnes.

Edited by Holly IN
Clean up and state the assignment
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Holly could you edit your post to allow for spacing between paragraphs? It would make it much easier to read and comment on. Thank you! :)

 

It would also help if you could tell us what the assignment was. Was he given the topic, or was it of his choosing?

Edited by Teachin'Mine
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Holly could you edit your post to allow for spacing between paragraphs? It would make it much easier to read and comment on. Thank you! :)

 

It would also help if you could tell us what the assignment was. Was he given the topic' date=' or was it of his choosing?[/quote']

:iagree:Thanks!

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A few things: The first two 'sentences' are fragments and should be combined together.

 

Also, I'm going to assume that this is supposed to be an academic literary analysis and not a casual speech paper. At first glance, I notice colloquialisms/slang in the sentence structure 'well' 'really' 'you know how' 'i'm pretty sure', and contractions. None of those things should be in a high school literature essay IME, and the sentences should be revised to have a more formal/collegiate feeling to them.

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Thank you Holly! It's much easier to read. :)

 

Your son has a great creative writing style, but unfortunately this is a formal literary paper. What works well in informal writing will result in a poor grade for formal essays.

 

I'd suggest that he start from the beginning and come up with a way to organize the paper. Ideally this should be done with an outline. I think if he can aim for a five or six paragraph essay. First paragraph would be the introduction in which there is some leeway for making an interesting approach, but I wouldn't include the pumpkin pie. :lol: The last sentence of this paragraph should be his thesis statement which will list what he's going to discuss in the following support sentences. This should just be stated and the reader shouldn't be told what he will be doing in the paper - kwim?

 

Then the support paragraphs should each start with a topic sentence highlighting what the paragraph will be about followed by at least three supports. Quotes from the work are great, but he also needs to clearly state how each one of these enriches the poem. He can organize his paper by using one or two senses per paragraph, or he can do it in another way. He could make one paragraph about the cold, for instance, and tell how the different senses were used to convey the message that it was cold and again how each of these added to the richness of the poem.

 

The conclusion should do just that. In the conclusion, it would be appropriate for him to give a more personal statement about the poem and how he felt about the poem tying in with the content of the paper.

 

It helps to see what the assignment was. When writing a literary analysis, I believe the writer can assume that the reader is familiar with the work. I'd leave out the paragraph surmising what the poem is about.

 

I like the last paragraph! I think he's got a good feel for what the author intended and communicates that well. :)

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The Eve of St. Agnes. A poem made out of the senses of the body: taste, touch, feel, sound, and smell.

Reword it and make it a single sentence.

Leaving the impression of "scattered thoughts" is fine for creative writing, but to be avoided in formal writing.

Frankly because I've

been overcome with the delightful desire to eat a luxurious pumpkin pie.

A bad sentence in just about every aspect - it has a very bad beginning, does not suit the paragraph, slips into too much personal talk and is way too informal. Leave it out completely.

In "The Eve of St. Agnes," the feelings contribute so much to the poem. The eve was so cold.

Remove the "so"s, they do not add to the intensifying of what you describe, but sound too informal.

I do not understand the meaning of "the feelings contribute so much to the poem". Whose feelings, what feelings, contribue how, are they obvious from the poem or you are reading them into it? Reword it or remove it.

Keats wanted everyone who read the poem to feel the inevitable cold.

I fail papers automatically for a sentence like this. :tongue_smilie:

 

NEVER venture to claim "what the author wanted to say", especially so boldly and without any textual evidence for it (i.e. his personal comment of the poem, etc.). Stick to what he SAID and leave psychologizing about "author's intentions" aside. This is an extremely important point in formal writing, lest you wish to end up in poor demagogy.

Basically this one phrase about taste is saying that the cold frosted his breath so much that he had the taste and look of his breath as of an old censer of incense. This cold feel of the poem has a lot more about touch, however.

The first sentence is way too informal. If you're paraphrasing the content, rearrange the words and find synonims, remove "basically".

Regarding the second sentence, either elaborate on it right away either skip it altogether, because it leaves the impression of an added detail which doesn't fit in.

Smell itself isn't a big part of the poem. However, you can just smell the incense and candles burning in the cathedral. You can smell the death almost. You can even smell the ashes and burnt crisp of the dead beadsman. You know how when it's just barely below 30 degrees Fahrenheit and your nose hairs start to stick together because of the cold? Picture feeling that on this cold night. I'm pretty sure everyone else in this poem felt worse than that.

A paragraph filled with demagogy and logical contradictions.

 

A smell isn't a big part of the poem, but "you can just feel it"? Rewrite it in a significantly more formal fashion, refraining from using colloquial speech ("you can just smell it", "you know how it's"...).

 

The last sentence of this paragraph is another one of those things more stringent professors automatically fail you if they notice: refrain from your own conjunctures about how who "must have felt", reading into the psychology of the characters, especially in such an informal fashion. Stick to what's said or what you can legitimately claim, within the context of experiences which are said. The whole paragraph smells (pun intended :D) of a lot of demagogy.

Touch and feel are huge contributors in this poem. With the Eve being as cold as it was, it must have a feel to it; right? Also, Keats tries to show

Reword the first sentence, remove "right?" from the second sentence and consider rewording it as it still smells of demagogy, and quit reading into Keats' intentions.

 

"Keats shows", if you can back it up textually, is fine. "Keats wants to show", "Keats tries to show", etc. are way too bold claims at this level of writing - so just avoid them.

This basically contributes more to the chilly and brisk Eve of St. Agnes. The owl, for all his feathers, was cold. It was also so cold that a hare with warm fur was trembling through frozen grass. [...]

Again, if you're going to paraphrase, do it properly. Basically rewriting it after you've just quoted only fills the space, and we professors NOTICE when you're just trying to fill the space.

 

The whole essay is too much in a flow-of-conscience mood. Have a clear point before you write, or at least edit it later for clarity.

The first paragraph was talking about a freezing cold Eve. Now in this second paragraph it has turned into a deathly cold. Now, this deathly cold is frightening some people in the rest of this poem.

Fail, nearly automatically. Makes you wonder whether the student has read a poem or a prose retelling of it.

 

You know, maybe, in some veeeery liberal interpretations of some veeery formally "liberal" poems, I would allow that expression. But Keats' poetry and paragraphs? This, especially when combined with the constant pretending on knowing author's intents, is more than enough grounds for failing a student.

Also, cut the "now"s as beginnings of sentences. Way too informal.

Well, in the eve of saint agnes, really the only sounds it talks about are the sounds of death.

"It" talks about? Who? The poem in its entirety? The lyric subject? Anyone or anything particular in the poem?

 

I will sum this poem up and explain what it means.

An ambitious task. How about a simple, "I will offer my interpretation of the poem."?

 

After that, you end up in another boring retelling of the "plot" of the poem. Unnecessary repeating.

The reason Keats decided to write so much about the senses of the night is because he wants the reader to feel the Eve of St. Agnes. He wants the reader to feel the cold, to feel the death. [...]

Fail, multiple times.

And we're still moving in circles and not finding out anything new about the poem that we weren't told already in this essay - several times.

 

The main points to work on:

(i) Reducing subjectivity, increasing objectivity, aiming to stick to the text.

(ii) Quit the cheap demagogy of reading into author's intentions and make it clear that it's an interpretation.

(iii) Either paraphrase (but properly, not rewriting in prose) either quote. It's redundant to do both.

(iv) Work on removing the colloquial expressions and connectors.

(v) Repeat why the formal qualities of the poem are so important and why connections should be done within the context of the poem rather than venturing into making all sorts of life connections. Stick to the experiences which are WITHIN the poem and build the meaning of the poem from WITHIN, not from the OUTSIDE.

(vi) To those familiar with the poem it may seem way too "scattered" and focusing on too few things, i.e. not taking the poem in its entirety. Focus on the task ALONE (rather than on author's intentions and alike) and make more meaningful connections all across the board within the text of the poem.

 

In short, I think it has a potential and a good idea, but at the present state I would not give it a positive grade - I would have him rewrite the essay, expanding it and removing and rewording a whole lot of things, keeping in mind the above suggestions.

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Your son did a very good job of picking out the sensory details of the poem, but he needs a more formal tone and some clearer structure for an essay.

 

Perhaps it will help your son to think about how the way he speaks changes depending on the person or people he's addressing. He will speak differently to a preschooler than to his peers than to his parents than to an adult of high status whom he doesn't know well. Writing is the same way. Literary analysis is formal. Though opinions vary on this, I personally do not like the pronoun "I" to be used in formal essays.

 

It might help your student to write in a formal structure for a while before he ventures out, much like when children are young, we require that they copy the letters of the alphabet exactly. By the time we are adults, few of us have writing that resembles our early copying. Yet that early copying is necessary to internalize the essential structure of each letter.

 

In general, the intro paragraph should contain the thesis and a preview of the supporting data. The thesis could be taken directly from the assignment. The intro paragraph can also give a sentence or two of intro to the poem in general. One teacher I know likes to call the preview of supporting data the "plan of attack." It can be a list in one sentence or each major supporting point could have its own sentence.

 

Body paragraphs should contain a topic sentence related to one point of the plan of attack. The rest of the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence. The student should make sure that there are good transitions from the last sentence of the previous paragraph and the first sentence of the following paragraph.

 

The last paragraph can contain a slight restatement of the thesis, the plan of attack, and some further thoughts about the literary piece.

 

If you google 5 paragraph essay, you should be able to find some templates. I think your student would benefit from sticking to templates for a while. It would probably be a relief. :)

 

If this were my student's paper, I would emphasize the positive points of the paper. One of the best writing teachers around here rarely makes negative comments. She focuses on the positive aspects of what the student turns in. It's interesting how well this works in producing really excellent writers. Kids begin to like writing and begin to believe that they can write. For their first essay, she teaches the whole class the concept of the structure of the essay, then meets with each student to help him apply that structure to his topic. She has had considerable input into that first essay, so that each is a relative success. They build on that.

 

If you hadn't taught him the expectations of more formal speech in essay writing or essay structure prior to this essay, I would consider not mentioning them now, but teach them before the next essay. Most importantly, work *with* him step-by-step through the process of formulating a thesis and deciding what his supporting points will be, and outlining the essay. I wouldn't criticize anything you haven't taught yet.

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Anything positive??? or is this an F paper?????

 

:confused: I really wasn't expecting such a harsh overview. This is HIS FIRST lit paper. :001_huh:

 

I thank those of you that PM'd me privately. THANK YOU!!

 

I actually thought he did great for a FIRST lit analysis paper. Sigh.

 

Probably will never do this again...posting my son's paper. i probably should have mentioned this is his first paper on lit analysis. I do not think I will show him the responses. I will just let this one go.

Edited by Holly IN
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Your son did a very good job of picking out the sensory details of the poem, but he needs a more formal tone and some clearer structure for an essay.

 

 

Body paragraphs should contain a topic sentence related to one point of the plan of attack. The rest of the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence. The student should make sure that there are good transitions from the last sentence of the previous paragraph and the first sentence of the following paragraph.

 

The last paragraph can contain a slight restatement of the thesis, the plan of attack, and some further thoughts about the literary piece.

 

If you google 5 paragraph essay, you should be able to find some templates. I think your student would benefit from sticking to templates for a while. It would probably be a relief. :)

 

If this were my student's paper, I would emphasize the positive points of the paper. One of the best writing teachers around here rarely makes negative comments. She focuses on the positive aspects of what the student turns in. It's interesting how well this works in producing really excellent writers. Kids begin to like writing and begin to believe that they can write. For their first essay, she teaches the whole class the concept of the structure of the essay, then meets with each student to help him apply that structure to his topic. She has had considerable input into that first essay, so that each is a relative success. They build on that.

 

.

 

Thanks Laurie..... He is currently taking several essay classes as well as a heavy duty humanities essay history focus class online. The teacher for this class LOVES his essays. This is a classical ed with classical book and one BIG essay. He is getting A+ on these essays. :001_smile: Lit Analysis is one of the hardest papers to do I think esp. at a 10th grade level. ;)

 

Thanks for your advice.

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I'm so sorry. I didn't mean for it to come across as negatively as it has. I think your son writes well, but just needs to learn the formal essay format. I like what Laurie wrote that you shouldn't critique him on things he hasn't been taught. These are just individual people's thoughts - you don't have to agree with any of them. You are your son's teacher and you know how best to grade his work. Hard critiquing can lead to students who don't want to write. By all means point out the good and encourage him. Then before the next paper, teach him outlining and all.

 

:grouphug:

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I'm so sorry. I didn't mean for it to come across as negatively as it has. I think your son writes well' date=' but just needs to learn the formal essay format. I like what Laurie wrote that you shouldn't critique him on things he hasn't been taught. These are just individual people's thoughts - you don't have to agree with any of them. You are your son's teacher and you know how best to grade his work. Hard critiquing can lead to students who don't want to write. By all means point out the good and encourage him. [b']Then before the next paper, teach him outlining and all. [/b]:grouphug:

 

Will do that teachinMine. Thank you for your words. I am trying to take into consideration what "they" are saying. I will go over teaching the essay with my son but will not show him the responses I got. :) I know we need to work on outlining. Will be doing that for the next few weeks. His essay scores are very high in all of his essay based classes so not sure where he is messing up on. :)

 

Thanks!

 

Holly

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Anything positive??? or is this an F paper?????

 

:confused: I really wasn't expecting such a harsh overview. This is HIS FIRST lit paper. :001_huh:

Whether or not it's an F paper would depend on several other factors - such as whether he was taught formal and informal logic, whether he was specifically taught to dissect the work's formal qualities, whether he was specifically taught the format and the peculiarities of a more formal essay as opposed to more informal and creative types of writing, what is his previous experience with this type of writing and with writing in general, etc. It's always hard to single out a piece of writing outside of the educational framework and grade it, even if it's possible to generally address various points of it.

 

The problem with an F in my book is that there are mistakes and then there are mistakes. The second category contains about a dozen of them and frankly, an essay shouldn't contain a single one of them to be graded positively: we're talking about the most problematic slips of logic, severe misunderstandings of the work on the primary / literal level of analysis, severe misunderstandings of the formal qualities of the work ("paragraphs"), the mixing up of the author of the work and implicit author / lyric subject / protagonist / etc. (i.e. mixing up various instances of "who talks" in the work), delving into "psychology" and reading into the author's intentions and stuff of the kind (this is what your son seems to have messed up the most), etc. This is not an F if only the crucial mistakes are removed, i.e. if the essay is essentially reworded, paying close attention to what was wrong with original wording. We may even be discussing a solid C here, overall, once the major issues are fixed - but they have to be fixed first.

 

Many people find it hard to understand that an essay can be a generally good, challenging, witty and insightful piece of writing and yet lack some of the basics - and as such we cannot pretend that there is no problem with it. Well, we can pretend, of course, but we're really not being helpful that way. :) The way to improve is to be pointed to, point by point, what's not good and why it's not good and to seek an alternative solution, rather than to endlessly praise that which is good - everybody likes that, of course, but a great deal of education is not about being told what you like and what you do well, but what you've yet to work on. I don't find that to be harsh - I find it to be intellectually honest, fair and treating people with due respect, especially if I have professional grounds to think what I think and experience with this type of dissecting papers. Frankly, I thought my thoughts would be met with appreciation (even if combined with healthy skepticism and keeping in mind that I come from a slightly different academic tradition, thus deciding carefully for yourself what you will take as a useful point for your work, and what you will disregard as unnecessary at this point, or at any point), rather than a hint of a kind of personal resentment of criticism which is exclusively professional in nature, i.e. not personal. :)

 

Kids are not supposed to know all these things - they're supposed to actively work on getting to know them and practice them. If they knew how to write a good essay, they would be on the other side of cathedra in the class. Nobody is expecting perfection, and of course that along the way one needs to point out positive improvements too and generally focus on growing in a positive atmosphere. But weak points do indeed have to be addressed, carefully and one by one, in accordance with the broad context of overall education one is receiving. You know the best when and how to introduce them, how to "tweak" what you hear that it translates into understanding for your son, as well as when he's intellectually and/or emotionally ready for which type of criticism. Of course that you don't have to show him the responses you get, if you're afraid it might do more harm than good. What it's important is that you, as the teacher, take into account what other people have to say and find how to go about it, if go about it, when to go about it. :grouphug:

Edited by Ester Maria
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Anything positive??? or is this an F paper?????

 

:confused: I really wasn't expecting such a harsh overview. This is HIS FIRST lit paper. :001_huh:

 

I thank those of you that PM'd me privately. THANK YOU!!

 

I actually thought he did great for a FIRST lit analysis paper. Sigh.

 

Probably will never do this again...posting my son's paper. i probably should have mentioned this is his first paper on lit analysis. I do not think I will show him the responses. I will just let this one go.

I would never recommend showing a student the responses posters give on their papers. IMO this feedback is for you as the parent to identify where there are gaps in their learning so that you can address them in the way your student learns best.

 

If this was his first ever literary analysis, that explains a lot. When a student is in high school, their writing is critiqued far more on academic standards/style/content than on mechanics and effort like it would be in younger grades. Since he was a sophomore I think that many of us assumed he had been working on this for awhile instead of just dipping his toes in.

 

What I would recommend is this:

1. For this paper's revision, ONLY focus on changing his sentence style from casual to formal. That is a task large enough for one assignment (it's a bad idea to share tons of critiques at once with a student - choose one or two consistent errors to have them revise instead).

 

2. For his next paper, focus on doing lots of short chunks of literary analysis practice before he does a big paper so that his analysis is stronger and more refined.

 

3. For the essay after that (or for his other writing), focus on his format so that it is a well-constructed 5 paragraph essay.

 

4. Again, don't tell him anything about this board's critique - the purpose here is to help the parent understand what others who have experience in this field would say about it to help tailor your approach with your own child.

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Will do that teachinMine. Thank you for your words. I am trying to take into consideration what "they" are saying. I will go over teaching the essay with my son but will not show him the responses I got. :) I know we need to work on outlining. Will be doing that for the next few weeks. His essay scores are very high in all of his essay based classes so not sure where he is messing up on. :)

Different teachers have different grading standards, and different teachers have different training in quality writing and how to evaluate student work. In school I had a very 'high standards' college prep literature teacher (and was doing lit analysis by the beginning of 10th grade). Due to her training and influence, I have become a similar style of teacher. I highly prize good writing and lit analysis, but not every instructor does and some look more for an engaging writing style vs. college-ready writing.

 

When I took some community college classes, I was getting A+'s on papers that would have been C's or below from my high school teachers. My CC teachers did not have high standards - I deliberately wrote papers in stream-of-consciousness with poor punctuation and casual speech and no editing whatsoever, yet got compliments on them.

Edited by Sevilla
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Anything positive??? or is this an F paper?????

 

:confused: I really wasn't expecting such a harsh overview. This is HIS FIRST lit paper. :001_huh:

 

I thank those of you that PM'd me privately. THANK YOU!!

 

I actually thought he did great for a FIRST lit analysis paper. Sigh.

 

Probably will never do this again...posting my son's paper. i probably should have mentioned this is his first paper on lit analysis. I do not think I will show him the responses. I will just let this one go.

 

I quite enjoyed it! :)

 

I've never actually read the poem that he's talking about, but now I'm going to go and find it because he made me want to read it ~ he also made me grin & laugh in various places. I like his style. :D

 

Definitely not an "F" ~ I don't actually believe in 'grading' like that, but even if I did, I still wouldn't do it.

 

You know how when it's just barely below 30 degrees Fahrenheit and your nose hairs start to stick together because of the cold?

 

yep. :laugh:

 

 

edit: Grade 10 .. so we're talking, what, 15? My daughter is 14 and I'd be dang proud of her if she wrote this. Please don't let this thread discourage you - you know your son, you know what he's learning, what he's achieving, what his strengths are... what was YOUR first impression when you read it?

Edited by LidiyaDawn
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Anything positive??? or is this an F paper?????

 

:confused: I really wasn't expecting such a harsh overview. This is HIS FIRST lit paper. :001_huh:

 

I thank those of you that PM'd me privately. THANK YOU!!

 

I actually thought he did great for a FIRST lit analysis paper. Sigh.

 

Probably will never do this again...posting my son's paper. i probably should have mentioned this is his first paper on lit analysis. I do not think I will show him the responses. I will just let this one go.

 

Did you mean that to be a response to what I wrote? I thought I did mention positive things and gave you feedback about what he could be taught in terms of structure and "voice" that would pull the positive things into a formal essay format. I was trying to do the opposite of being negative, so I apologize if it came across that way.

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I quite enjoyed it! :)

 

I've never actually read the poem that he's talking about, but now I'm going to go and find it because he made me want to read it ~ he also made me grin & laugh in various places. I like his style. :D

 

Definitely not an "F" ~ I don't actually believe in 'grading' like that, but even if I did, I still wouldn't do it.

 

You know how when it's just barely below 30 degrees Fahrenheit and your nose hairs start to stick together because of the cold?

 

yep. :laugh:

 

 

 

edit: Grade 10 .. so we're talking, what, 15? My daughter is 14 and I'd be dang proud of her if she wrote this. Please don't let this thread discourage you - you know your son, you know what he's learning, what he's achieving, what his strengths are... what was YOUR first impression when you read it?

 

My impression was "wow what a GREAT paper". I would never have been able to put to words the way he did about the poem. :D Not at 15 or at 38....:lol:

 

I thought "wow that's my boy!!". This boy's speech coach loves his style of writing (she is a classical educator like me) and his writing coach loves his style as well (no she is not classical educator but a BIG IEW teacher).

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Did you mean that to be a response to what I wrote? I thought I did mention positive things and gave you feedback about what he could be taught in terms of structure and "voice" that would pull the positive things into a formal essay format. I was trying to do the opposite of being negative, so I apologize if it came across that way.

 

No Laurie...not you. I did reply to you stating thanks for your words. You gave me very good concrete critique and pointers that I can use to help my son.

 

:001_smile:

Edited by Holly IN
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I haven't seen anything harsh at all - there are some detailed critiques, but all of it filled with really valuable insights.

 

 

 

Doing wonderfully *for a first paper* (of this type) doesn't make it a well done paper, if that makes sense.. of course you can't get from just learning to excellent overnight! ...that your son has a lot to learn isn't a bad thing, and isn't a negative reflection on what he's been taught so far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is an enormous difference between doing well on the SAT writing section, and being able to write well... and an equally large difference between being able to write engagingly and being able to write effective analysis.

 

I was one of those kids whose written work always garnered high praise - I was able to use language well, to write engaging prose, and to inject feeling and, at times, humor into my writing. ...but no one ever pushed me to take it further than that.

 

I wish I had been critiqued by Ester, or someone like her, with the specificity and insight she brought to your son's essay and had had the opportunity to get beyond pretty writing and into effective, well argued writing. I learned, on my own, to write more formally (by reading examples of more formal works), and some other tools, but I remain an *undisciplined* writer - and my kids aren't surpassing me...

 

The good news is that the things I need to work on, for myself & my kids, are the things that are easier to learn... it's harder to learn how to develop your own voice as a writer, to have a rich vocabulary and an instinctive feel for language...

 

 

I understand however it was a big slap in the face for me. I def. couldn't produce a paper like my son on this poem. I wouldn't even made it past a title of a paper. I think with "writing" there are many different grading or critiqueing.

Ester was very harsh in my opinion. Others have given me very good pointers on what to work on. I like a balance between the two. kwim??

 

I am still not sure if I will post any more papers in the futre on here. Again this was my first time doing this so not sure how to do this or set the tone.

 

Thanks!

 

Holly

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I think this is a great thread! It holds great interest for me because I am always looking for thoughts about improving writing. Thanks to Holly for the courage to post the essay and thanks Esther M. for the critiques. I appreciate the other explanations too. I agree that Holly K will probably appreciate them better later when her son gets to the place that he really ought to improve. Excelsior!

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Fail, multiple times.

And we're still moving in circles and not finding out anything new about the poem that we weren't told already in this essay - several times.

Ester Maria,

I agree that your input is valuable. I have an oldest son who always asked me to "rip his papers apart" -- even a few after college now that he is employed. I wish my other 2 kids were like that :)

 

However, I have one suggestion for you.

 

If you would refrain from using the word "fail" then I think your input would come across less judgmentally. After all, it's more constructive to say that "this is a serious factual error, since we're talking about a poem and you referred to a prose paragraph" whereas "fail" feels very value-ridden and in itself isn't very informative. I think of ripping apart my son's real-life business-world papers, and know he would not find the word "fail" helpful to him (and would probably not ask for my help again), even though he loves knowing that he made factual and grammatical errors.

 

I really like the example given on the audio at the website for Writing Strands (the author's homeschooled son is a college professor and poet, I think, so he knows what he's talking about). He likens it to the cook who makes an apple pie and smilingly brings it out to the table. If every person sits back and criticizes the lines in the crust etc, then will the cook ever want to make a pie again?

 

I will add that, sure, she "might" continue out of force or out of incentive for earning dollars, but is that ever the same as the original desire to cook welling up from inside? There is a certain joy that is completely based on the product being appreciated. Often the whole purpose of cooking or of writing is to reach an audience. I don't think it's fluff to tell someone what they're doing "right." I think it's essential.

 

I know in the field of literature critique and such, harsh criticism is flying through the air fast and thick. It's not a world I enjoy. I was reminded of that as I worked beside a young man recently who always seemed on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Really most of the rest of the world of business and science and human services, where most writing skills will be employed, does not find it necessary or even desirable to be telling one another that they "fail" very often.

 

So, just one tiny suggestion - take out the word "fail."

Julie

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So, just one tiny suggestion - take out the word "fail."

Will do. :)

 

Thank you for elaborating, I didn't know there was a "problem" with that word. I usually write little Fs (or, when kids were younger, little angry faces ;)) next to "deadly sins" of writing (i.e. the errors which are the most grave, rather than stylistic or linguistic minutiae) or whatever was the subject, so I guess it's a habit. I do see that, with the lack of spoken/visual communication (even though I try to insert smilies now and then to make sure the reader knows I'm saying things in a relaxed, positive fashion), it can create a very tense effect.

 

I will take it out, leaving only the explanation in the future - or maybe even combine all instances of the same mistake and then elaborate on it together (which would break the "flow" of the work, but might still be readable, I think). :)

I don't think it's fluff to tell someone what they're doing "right." I think it's essential.

 

I agree, absolutely. :)

But I also like my praise to have a certain value, so to speak... I have to be able to say that something is truly good without the feeling that my praise has no merit to it, that it's a kind of undeserved "gift".

 

Sometimes, I concede, such a "gift" is needed. Sometimes a conscious focus only on what's good is needed, sometimes we all just need a break and need to be told that, at the end of the day, we're doing just fine, and sometimes we just need to be given a silent time to grow without "interventions" in that growth. I get that. :) I have an emotional side to me too (really, even if I don't let it on that often in writing ;)).

 

My problem is in that I see that nowadays what's supposed to be an exception - in my view - is adopted as the standard modus operandi all the way through. The ultimate consequence is the inability to take criticism if it's not mitigated with positive comments, carefully inserted there for balance, all very nicely "packed". I think positive comments, too, need to be earned. I usually go over "standard" stuff (which don't stand out as either outstandingly good or specifically bad) and focus only on what has to be worked on - as well as praise what I find to be outstanding, rather than just "standard good" (or "standard bad", little petty mistakes which are not worth sweating at a high school level). :)

Edited by Ester Maria
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or maybe even combine all instances of the same mistake and then elaborate on it together (which would break the "flow" of the work, but might still be readable, I think). :)

Good idea.

 

 

I also like my praise to have a certain value, so to speak... I have to be able to say that something is truly good without the feeling that my praise has no merit to it, that it's a kind of undeserved "gift".

 

Sometimes, I concede, such a "gift" is needed. Sometimes a conscious focus only on what's good is needed, sometimes we all just need a break and need to be told that, at the end of the day, we're doing just fine, and sometimes we just need to be given a silent time to grow without "interventions" in that growth. I get that. :) I have an emotional side to me too (really, even if I don't let it on that often in writing ;)).

 

My problem is in that I see that nowadays what's supposed to be an exception - in my view - is adopted as the standard modus operandi all the way through. The ultimate consequence is the inability to take criticism if it's not mitigated with positive comments, carefully inserted there for balance, all very nicely "packed". I think positive comments, too, need to be earned.

Ester, I know you and I don't see eye-to-eye on some of this academic stuff, but I just want to explain a little more what it looks like from my side of the academic seesaw.

 

I do definitely agree with telling children the truth. I think children know when they don't know something, and it's even reassuring in a way to tell them that, yes, you are not doing well on that. I'm not big on grades, but I might even tell my child that something is not acceptable... yet. And I love it when MCT writes that he will not waste class time on elementary school mistakes, meaning things that the child did due to simple laziness -- I believe in raising the bar. But I will never, ever stop there. I will always reassure the child that there are at least *some* hills that he has already conquered, and that I am ready to help him conquer the rest.

 

I feel that the standard modus operandi DOES need to include praise. If all I do is criticize, then I am like the Army drill sergeant, tearing them down in order to create only one unified version of a soldier. I've seen that in bosses -- "Memos should always look like X." The writer is left empty, to make some robotic effort to write like *X* writes, and will of course fail in the process. I just don't think I've done my job if all I've done is tear down. Supporting the writer and building on his own voice isn't pandering, it's an essential part of my job.

 

Deep down, I look at my job as an evaluator of written work as helping the writer to express what he is trying to say. I'm giving him the precious resource of how his writing looks from the other end of the pen. Sometimes that might involve looking at the teacher's requirements or the reader's needs. We might eventually realize that more needs to be said because it isn't enough, or that dangerous territory has been entered because there are too many assumptions. But it absolutely requires feedback to include comments on their strengths, not just their errors. They need something to build on. Something good and solid and successful from within themselves, not something dictated from within me. I feel obligated to find the praiseworthy abilities within my student -- even when my youngest makes it so easy for me to just focus on his errors :tongue_smilie:

 

In my opinion :001_smile:

Julie

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Good idea.

 

 

 

Ester, I know you and I don't see eye-to-eye on some of this academic stuff, but I just want to explain a little more what it looks like from my side of the academic seesaw.

 

I do definitely agree with telling children the truth. I think children know when they don't know something, and it's even reassuring in a way to tell them that, yes, you are not doing well on that. I'm not big on grades, but I might even tell my child that something is not acceptable... yet. And I love it when MCT writes that he will not waste class time on elementary school mistakes, meaning things that the child did due to simple laziness -- I believe in raising the bar. But I will never, ever stop there. I will always reassure the child that there are at least *some* hills that he has already conquered, and that I am ready to help him conquer the rest.

 

I feel that the standard modus operandi DOES need to include praise. If all I do is criticize, then I am like the Army drill sergeant, tearing them down in order to create only one unified version of a soldier. I've seen that in bosses -- "Memos should always look like X." The writer is left empty, to make some robotic effort to write like *X* writes, and will of course fail in the process. I just don't think I've done my job if all I've done is tear down. Supporting the writer and building on his own voice isn't pandering, it's an essential part of my job.

 

Deep down, I look at my job as an evaluator of written work as helping the writer to express what he is trying to say. I'm giving him the precious resource of how his writing looks from the other end of the pen. Sometimes that might involve looking at the teacher's requirements or the reader's needs. We might eventually realize that more needs to be said because it isn't enough, or that dangerous territory has been entered because there are too many assumptions. But it absolutely requires feedback to include comments on their strengths, not just their errors. They need something to build on. Something good and solid and successful from within themselves, not something dictated from within me. I feel obligated to find the praiseworthy abilities within my student -- even when my youngest makes it so easy for me to just focus on his errors :tongue_smilie:

 

In my opinion :001_smile:

Julie

 

I have been thinking about this thread a lot and doing a fair amount of re-reading in response to something that happened in our home yesterday. My oldest son, a sophomore and the only child not home schooled this year, was filling out next year's schedule. He was very frustrated. He had received his writing score for the state test and it was one of the highest in his Lit. & Comp. class, yet his teacher had refused to sign off on allowing him to take the AP Lang. or Lit. classes. He was experiencing the disconnect of being told on one hand that his writing is good and being told on another hand that his writing is not good enough. It was a difficult and somewhat painful task to explain the situation to him.

 

We use swimming examples often here, because it is something we all understand. I told my son that the good test score was like being an ex-club swimmer on a high school team. You look good because you have had more training and possibly more motivation than the majority of the other swimmers. However, put that swimmer with the regular club swimmers and he would probably fall to the bottom of the pack because he has nowhere near the experience or training that the top swimmers have.

 

It all depends upon the standards that you wish to pursue. My son's writing is good compared to many of his peers, but it is nowhere near strong enough to weather an AP course.

 

I agree Julie, that you need to build strong foundations, but not just with praise alone, but with actual skills. Being one of the top writers in his class left my son feeling good, temporarily. Not having the skills to take AP Eng. Lang. will leave him feeling bad for quite some time. Sometimes, kindness in the short term is most unkind in the long term. Holly's son has a wonderful voice which shows great promise...with good, solid coaching of the same level to which her son aspires academically.

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I agree Julie, that you need to build strong foundations, but not just with praise alone, but with actual skills. Being one of the top writers in his class left my son feeling good, temporarily. Not having the skills to take AP Eng. Lang. will leave him feeling bad for quite some time. Sometimes, kindness in the short term is most unkind in the long term.

 

Absolutely they need to see their weaknesses & work hard on them. That's what we do in homeschool every day. But I thought this thread already had that covered well ;) , so I just added that I don't believe you can or should ever work on weaknesses without praising strengths.

 

I can't believe your son would continue in swimming if every day he was given 100 things he did wrong, pronounced failed, and never given any support for the areas he did well in just because he's nowhere near the top tier as of yet? If he'd keep going under those circumstances, kudos to him.

 

Julie

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Julie, I absolutely agree that a praise, enthusiasm and excitement about the things the child did well are very important parts of education. No discussion about that. :)

 

My point is that I don't like giving unmerited praise or to purposefully mitigate criticism with the kind of "praise" you have to struggle to find in the first place (when all that's good about a work are things that are assumed to be mastered by now: you don't really expect me to praise the facts such as the one that the child can write and spell? we crossed that bridge in elemenentary, I cannot go back there and "dig it out" in order to find something to praise, just like I no longer praise the kids for tying their shoes or braiding their hair on their own. :)) - and then it feels like a "gift", leaves an awful taste on both sides, because children accustomed to a fair approach find it patronizing and nearly insulting (as if they were too "weak" to face the music when they do something which on the whole wasn't good or appropriate for their level of education, in the context of previous skills acquired), and the parent struggles with their conscience and with the feeling of academic dishonesty, even if relating to one's own child. Sometimes the feelings of a parent and of a teacher conflict, but I truly try to be maximally professional. I know that on the long run, I am not doing them a favor by constantly treading on eggshells - even if I agree that we do have to take into account the emotional component too. But, that's the balance that every parent has to find for their own child.

 

These papers are hard to "grade" because you cannot take into account the student's development which would normally enter the picture too. You get here an isolated moment, outside of the context of the big picture. Isolated moments are always problematic, what's a true milestone for some child will be a big fat F for another child - I get all of that, really. And maybe in an essay like this a child has improved with regards to a specific task and that deserves to mentioned - but I cannot know the whole context here, I can only discuss the isolated moment, I work with the assumption that the parent, who gets the whole picture, will know how to go about, if go about it, and when. The best we here can do is approximation in the context of "grade level" and what, in our experience and standards, children should be capable of doing at which stage. And remember, these critiques are primarily for the parent. It's often not even advisable to overwhelm the kid by addressing all of the issues at once - it's to point general directions what to work on, what are minor issues and what are more serious issues. Often a baby step approach is needed when we get to actually work with the kids, after we've discussed that out of their earshot as parents - although I still hold to the opinion that high school age is the one where we can be a lot more blunt and a lot less sugarcoating even with the children.

 

I'm not talking about exclusively criticizing, nor an army approach, nor sweating every small detail at all times. :) On the contrary - the atmosphere of learning has to be wonderful and accepting, without tensions in the air, with mutual respect and respect with regard to the student's development and pace... but it also has to be fair and honest. Not every mistake is the same, nor is the same mistake same when committed in two different contexts. It takes a balance and knowing your child. We do agree about these points - but the only way for me to asssess a concrete paper here is to disregard all but a vague grade level, I work with the assumption that while "digesting" the responses they get the OP will know which ones are relevant, which will be relevant at later stage, etc.

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Julie, I absolutely agree that a praise, enthusiasm and excitement about the things the child did well are very important parts of education. No discussion about that. :)

 

My point is that I don't like giving unmerited praise or to purposefully mitigate criticism with the kind of "praise" you have to struggle to find in the first place (when all that's good about a work are things that are assumed to be mastered by now: you don't really expect me to praise the facts such as the one that the child can write and spell? we crossed that bridge in elemenentary, I cannot go back there and "dig it out" in order to find something to praise, just like I no longer praise the kids for tying their shoes or braiding their hair on their own. :)) - and then it feels like a "gift", leaves an awful taste on both sides, because children accustomed to a fair approach find it patronizing and nearly insulting (as if they were too "weak" to face the music when they do something which on the whole wasn't good or appropriate for their level of education, in the context of previous skills acquired), and the parent struggles with their conscience and with the feeling of academic dishonesty, even if relating to one's own child. Sometimes the feelings of a parent and of a teacher conflict, but I truly try to be maximally professional. I know that on the long run, I am not doing them a favor by constantly treading on eggshells - even if I agree that we do have to take into account the emotional component too. But, that's the balance that every parent has to find for their own child.

 

These papers are hard to "grade" because you cannot take into account the student's development which would normally enter the picture too. You get here an isolated moment, outside of the context of the big picture. Isolated moments are always problematic, what's a true milestone for some child will be a big fat F for another child - I get all of that, really. And maybe in an essay like this a child has improved with regards to a specific task and that deserves to mentioned - but I cannot know the whole context here, I can only discuss the isolated moment, I work with the assumption that the parent, who gets the whole picture, will know how to go about, if go about it, and when. The best we here can do is approximation in the context of "grade level" and what, in our experience and standards, children should be capable of doing at which stage. And remember, these critiques are primarily for the parent. It's often not even advisable to overwhelm the kid by addressing all of the issues at once - it's to point general directions what to work on, what are minor issues and what are more serious issues. Often a baby step approach is needed when we get to actually work with the kids, after we've discussed that out of their earshot as parents - although I still hold to the opinion that high school age is the one where we can be a lot more blunt and a lot less sugarcoating even with the children.

 

I'm not talking about exclusively criticizing, nor an army approach, nor sweating every small detail at all times. :) On the contrary - the atmosphere of learning has to be wonderful and accepting, without tensions in the air, with mutual respect and respect with regard to the student's development and pace... but it also has to be fair and honest. Not every mistake is the same, nor is the same mistake same when committed in two different contexts. It takes a balance and knowing your child. We do agree about these points - but the only way for me to asssess a concrete paper here is to disregard all but a vague grade level, I work with the assumption that while "digesting" the responses they get the OP will know which ones are relevant, which will be relevant at later stage, etc.

 

 

So well put. When I taught writing in a fifth grade class (I was asked to come in mid-year because the teacher was not doing a satisfactory job) it took a while to build the kids' trust. They had to know that I was routing for them. I was their biggest fan; no one would be more proud of them when they GOT it! I always went over board to heap the praise on the good in every paper. Sometimes it would be just one crafted sentence out of an entire paper, or an impressive vocabulary word choice, but by the end of the week every kid had something wonderful from their paper on the board. I never put the kids' names with it, so they could have their private moment of joy.

 

I also so agree that the paper needs work. He has an excellent start; now keep working to make it even better!

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My point is that I don't like giving unmerited praise or to purposefully mitigate criticism with the kind of "praise" you have to struggle to find in the first place (when all that's good about a work are things that are assumed to be mastered by now: you don't really expect me to praise the facts such as the one that the child can write and spell? we crossed that bridge in elemenentary, I cannot go back there and "dig it out" in order to find something to praise,

Ester, I'm confused :confused:

Who is this child? Who is it you are saying is being given dishonest feedback? My son? The original poster's son? Either you're talking about someone specific, or you're talking in generalities.

 

If it's someone specific, then I'm sorry but I don't see the original poster (or my own son, either) as being anywhere near deserving of this kind of offhand insult.

 

If it's a generality, then I'm sorry but it feels as if you are implying that anyone who doesn't agree with you -- anyone who thinks that praise is a required part of an evaluation -- is giving their child unmerited, useless, kindergarten-level praise. That is a huge insult and a complete error in logic.

 

I think if you read back through this thread, you'll notice that my total concern (and that of several others) is simply this: you are giving harsh criticism without any encouragement.

 

The ironic thing, which someone pointed out to me on the side, is that you, yourself, respond *much* more productively when I say, "You are doing wonderfully, but there is just this one area you need to work on." Of course, I think this is natural. It is consistent with my own method and my way of talking with students and adults alike. It is the method that succeeds in pushing a someone towards greater excellence. And aren't our children also human beings, just like you? And we, their teachers, don't we need encouragement just as much as critique? Your reaction to harsh criticism of your own style just makes this whole conversation ironic, but I think it is worth a second look.

 

Sure, praise can get out-of-hand. My oldest son *constantly* had praise tempered with reminders that the competition was going to change drastically once he got to college. However, I don't think any of us ever told him he was a failure, or chose to refrain from praise lest he get too confident. If we had, I have to think that he might well have gone ahead and lived up to that label. Instead, with encouragement alongside of critique, he went on to succeed against the higher competition, to contribute to his school newspaper, and to take on writing tasks in his employment. Yes, he asked me to "rip & tear" sometimes, but really he never wanted rip-n-tear-without-a-balance-of-praise.

 

Personally, except in rare instances of flagrant lack of effort, I actually believe that if you cannot find one.single.thing of truly praiseworthy value in an essay, something that is not fluff but is a true strength to build on, then I'm sorry but I just don't think it's a good evaluation. If you are unable to give a single encouraging comment, then I would not submit it on these boards unless *explicitly* requested. I would consider the eval. easier to write and of questionable value in improving the writer. It may do more harm than good, and is not worth the risk.

 

Instead, I really hope this new board will benefit our children greatly, including your excellent skills, Ester.

 

the atmosphere of learning has to be wonderful and accepting, without tensions in the air, with mutual respect and respect with regard to the student's development and pace

All in all, this is what at least some of us are NOT seeing in some of these threads.

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If it's a generality, then I'm sorry but it feels as if you are implying that anyone who doesn't agree with you -- anyone who thinks that praise is a required part of an evaluation -- is giving their child unmerited, useless, kindergarten-level praise.

I'm talking generally, yes, regardless of this specific essay. The idea is that as a rule I don't specifically praise "crossed bridges" in a work that's generally not good just so I have something positive to say - in a response to your idea that one should always have something positive to contribute.

 

I saw such writings by my own kids (if you want me to speak on that example ;)) - bad with regards to the task. What am I supposed to compliment? The spelling? The fact that there are no factual confusions (factual confusion is the first, literal level of analysis - ergo, an elementary thing - I cannot specifically praise that in upper middle or high school)? The fact that the child knows how to cite, if we also did that ages ago?

Seriously, Julie, sometimes kids just. write. a bad. paper. And sometimes, when that happens, I'm not willing to specifically look for what I can praise - if all I can praise are milestones of earlier stages of education and not something we've been working on recently and we're trying to exercise here.

 

Is this example a bad paper? Like I said, I don't know. I don't know the whole context of education, I don't know which bridges are crossed and which aren't, the only way I can speak about the paper is high school generalties. How else am I supposed to do? :confused:

 

I'm not implying that, either. I just honestly don't believe that a praise is a required part of every evaluation, that an evalution is automatically a merciless, heartless one without it. And that's where we come to this:

you are giving harsh criticism without any encouragement.

:confused:

Is it my "job" here specifically to encourage? Or to give some kind of assessment and feedback, to the best of my time and abilities, giving the teacher a different view of it, counting with the fact that she is the one that educates and encourages and filters which points are relevant and which aren't?

you, yourself, respond *much* more productively when I say, "You are doing wonderfully, but there is just this one area you need to work on." [...] And aren't our children also human beings, just like you? And we, their teachers, don't we need encouragement just as much as critique? Your reaction to harsh criticism of your own style just makes this whole conversation ironic, but I think it is worth a second look.

Julie, if you allow... and I really, really don't want this to come across "the wrong way"... but that will be relevant the day I post a thread entitled "Ester's self-improvement: please contribute with your opinions and suggestions". :) When I decide, you know what, I want to face that music and I'm asking for it.

The criticism here is specifically asked for, in the title of the subforum - people want opinions. Various people have various opinions. The criticism of my opinions, yes, if you can disagree with it "professionally": you made a point that he has to work on X, I disagree with it as I think his X is fine, or I think X isn't a big mistake at this point. But you're not doing that - you're disagreeing with it "personally". You're shifting the discussion from good and bad points in writing to the discussion about Ester's personality and unwillingness to praise. Which I think is at least a little bit unfair. :)

If you are unable to give a single encouraging comment, then I would not submit it on these boards unless *explicitly* requested.

*sigh*

Okay, I won't. I'll comment only when I can find something good and point to it. Deal? :)

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I'm very disappointed at the direction this thread is going. There is definitely a shift in the discussion. I hesitate to post but there are a couple of points not made yet that I think are important.

 

When our dc get out into the world, people are not particularly worried about hurting their feelings. When they get to university many professors are not worried how their feedback/decision is interpreted by the students. I'm taking two courses at university presently. In one class, the professor told us that we had to hand in our assignments on time, and no excuses would be accepted (other than a doctor's note or a death in the family). If we fail to hand them in by the due date, he will take 20% off, not our assignment mark, but the total mark for the course. Yipes! In the other class, the professor gave three girls a "0" on their papers because they were almost identical. He didn't give them part-marks for correct grammar or spelling or because something in their essays was praiseworthy; he gave them a big fat "0". These types of situations are what our children may, and most likely will, face when they leave home. I question if we are doing them a favor when we try to make everything, "easy" or "nice" or "kind". And what better place than this forum to get valuable feedback to enhance our teaching and then "distill" the information to our dc to make them better writers. (I agree with the poster who said we should not show the comments to our dc. They are to help us become better instructors)

 

There are many excellent critiques on these boards by professionals. One would normally have to pay to receive such thorough comments from a professional. I hope we don't lose sight of this. It would be a shame if such skilled people were hesitant to post a critique because they were afraid of backlash.

 

I have a dd who is in 6th grade. I have been browsing the high school writing forum to gather information to improve my skills in teaching writing (in advance :001_smile:). There have been many wonderful critiques by obviously very knowledgeable moms, and Ester Maria's critiques have been invaluable to aid me in becoming a better writing teacher. I would be very sad to see her "water-down" her comments as then I'm left with sifting through "nice" comments to see what she really means. It was very generous of her to extend the offer of PM-ing her but, as my dd won't be in high school for a few years, the only place I can learn are these boards. :confused:

 

I don't mean to trivialize the OP's hurt feelings. It was an act of bravery to share your ds's writing with strangers of whom you know nothing and, in fact, have never met before. But I want to encourage you that if you can get past the emotional response (not easy..... I understand), perhaps you can see the enormous value in the critique.

 

I certainly do not question Julie's assertion that we should praise our children .... of course we should, much and often. I do question that we should expect everyone else to praise them too. While it would be gratifying, it simply doesn't seem realistic. :001_smile:

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:confused: I don't criticize the good parts of my kids' writing. What, is that not enough of a compliment? :tongue_smilie:

 

Ester Maria's critiques have been nothing but honest, insightful, and helpful. I'm busily printing them out to use as teaching aids, and am shocked that anyone would discourage her from posting on these threads.

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Wow. I was considering posting my sons' recent essays, but if people can't post unless it makes other people feel good, I don't see the point. I want honest feedback.

 

I actually 100% agree with Ester's critique and her follow up posts. I did not find it harsh, but rather a realistic and accurate detailed evaluation of the paper over all. How much of her critique applies specificly to the student, rather than the paper, is unknown to any of us as we are not the primary teacher and are not aware of the student's learning level up to this point.

 

I also agree with Elaina and Melanie. It is thoroughly out of line to suggest that unless the critique is positive feedback, one shouldn't respond. If the only point of posting a writing is to have everyone pat us on the back and say how awesome it is, even when it obviously is not, then there is no value in posting a critique. That is not a critique at all.

 

As for praise, that is a mother's job. Who is the praise for here? Most have already said they wouldn't suggest letting the student read the critiques here, but rather use them as a teaching tool. So the reality is some are suggesting ester was wrong for not praising Holly?:001_huh:

 

As much as I truly sympathize with being upset that my student/child isn't as far along as my impression of their work suggested, according to others, I would be equally glad to have that cold slap in the face now, than have them get it in a quality college class later.

 

I also want to note a huge mistake I think some are making. Whether you or I could write what he wrote is completely not relevant to the topic of whether what he wrote was a quality paper. As Ester noted, there are basic standards when it comes to formal analytical writing that cannot be be ignored if the work is to be judged appropriately.

 

Holly, yes, your son has far to go in his writing. It's not necessarily a negative reflection on you or him. It's okay. He is 15 and has time to go that distance in his writing. I agree with a previous poster further up that you should focus on structure and a couple other major key points and work from there towards building improvement over the next couple of essays.:grouphug:

 

Now I'm second guessing whether I should post some of my high school boys' essays. I think I am a very harsh judge of their writing, but I still worry I'm not harsh enough. An objective outside opinion could be very helpful. I'd be happy to have them rip the essays to shreds, noting the most imperative areas to start. I would never consider showing the thread to my sons, because it is not intended to help them as much as provide me teaching insight. At least, that is what I thought was the supposed purpose of this thread?

 

Of course, now if I do, I suppose I will REALLY get both barrels!:tongue_smilie:

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Hello,

 

I have to say WOW to the new direction this thread has taken. Ester has PM'd me privately. Now I understand where she is coming from. When I have more time this week I am going to sit down and re-read Ester's and others comments on my son's paper. I was shocked at the critique of Ester. It really overpowered her pointers that I didn't "see" them. I just felt like my son's paper was being ripped off. The usage of FAIL didn't help. I know Ester has realized she probably shouldn't have mentioned the word. I wasn't excpecting the type of critique I got. I am glad Ester is honest about it. Its just a shock for me to see that.

 

I am disappointed though that my son has a long way to go and he only has two more years of high school left. I know he has straight As in the classical scholar online history class. His teacher loves his super essays on history (its not lit analysis but historical analysis of a book they read for Roman history). Yes, he is doing two history courses (that is HIS choice!!) and he loves this teacher. He HATES tog. :glare: Anyway he said he is doing both since this teacher of his is not doing American history but ancient history.

 

I hope this thread do not get deleted. So perhaps we need to stop this thread so I can go back and re-read the postings. Just do not have time today or the next few days. ;)

 

However if you can point out (yes Ester you too!!!!) what I need to have my son start with in becoming a better writer let me know.

 

He is doing IEW American history writing with an official IEW trained teacher at a co-op. I am doing myself with him SWB's writing with several sources according to her book. We have the ARt of arguement book which I need to get started but too many writing projects that is getting in the way for us to use this book.

 

I really stink at grading writing. I can't seem to grasp what is a good paper or not. I am not a liberal arts type of teacher. I am more of a science teacher than anything else. :D My son is more of liberal arts type of a student. I have another son who is more like me. My dh is more liberal arts as well.

 

I truly appreciate what all of you have said. Ester too. I am sorry to say that I was shocked at reading Ester's critique. I understand now that she is not trying to be mean or harsh....it just came across that way.

 

Thank you!!!!

 

:grouphug:

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Holly, it is good to see you back here.:grouphug:

 

I think, in general, as homeschool parents we all try to do the best we can for our children with the resources and skills that we have at hand. Take from the thread what seems important to you and what you can work with at this point and leave the rest. There is time to grow. Continue to be proud of your son. The character that came through in his writing would indicate an engaging young man.

 

Thank you again for being courageous enough to share and discuss your son's work. Best wishes to you and your son on your writing journey.

Edited by swimmermom3
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Hey I do have one question.....

 

When doing a lit anaylsis paper should you mention the tools you used in writing this paper????

 

Just wondered as I felt that should have been bought into the paper....

 

Holly

Hi Holly,

I wasn't sure what you meant by "tools," so the answer would depend. Are you asking about having your son quote from the original poem? Or are you asking if he should mention other critiques about the poem that he used in his research? Both of those are excellent things to do. Direct quotes are excellent, or a general bibliography at the end looks good.

 

Or do you just mean the English books or teacher assignments or ??? Those are things that might help when you post?

 

Just wanted to try to generate some answers for you.

Julie

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Hi Holly,

I wasn't sure what you meant by "tools," so the answer would depend. Are you asking about having your son quote from the original poem? Or are you asking if he should mention other critiques about the poem that he used in his research? Both of those are excellent things to do. Direct quotes are excellent, or a general bibliography at the end looks good.

 

Or do you just mean the English books or teacher assignments or ??? Those are things that might help when you post?

 

Just wanted to try to generate some answers for you.

Julie

 

Talking about LIterary Analysis tools learned during the study of poetry. Probably not important. I have never done a lit analysis so not sure if they are supposed to talk about tools that helped them to anaylyze the literature or poetry.

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Talking about LIterary Analysis tools learned during the study of poetry. Probably not important. I have never done a lit analysis so not sure if they are supposed to talk about tools that helped them to analyze the literature or poetry.

 

Hi Holly,

My opinion is that if it fits "naturally" into his essay points, then it's great to include things like, maybe, the author's use of metaphors in describing the senses, and how effective or ineffective he found the author's technique.

 

The main thing is to be clear on the focus of his essay and the supporting point(s) he is making, and to keep those things as the priority, rather than falling into some artificial structure such as, "Here are the metaphors I saw, here is the forshadowing I saw, etc."

 

Just my thoughts. Hoping you receive others!

Julie

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