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lisabees

Essay

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I think she has many good ideas, but the essay lacks a clear structure and rambles. What is her thesis, exactly? I couldn't figure that out.

 

To start with, I'd suggest that she work on developing a strong thesis and clear topic sentences for her paragraph. I think paragraph one is about how her parents have influenced her views; paragraph two is about body image; and paragraph three is about vocation/avocation. However, she lacks strong topic sentences. She expresses these ideas in her introduction but doesn't explain well enough how they tie together or what her main point is. The reader needs to know why she is writing this.

 

If she uses a quote, she needs to give the attribution.

 

It reads like a draft to me. I think she could tighten it up quite a bit, making sure there are clear connections from one thought to another. Since she has already gotten a grade, is she done with it, or will she do more editing?

 

 

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Thank you, storygirl.  This was her final copy.  She handed it in late, after many discussions and revisions.  I gave sdd (and parents) a rubric beforehand and she barely scored a 3 out of 5 on most sections.  

 

It was an essay grading service that I used to see if I was on the right track - sdd hasn't seen either grade yet.

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Does she know you submitted it somewhere to get a grade? If not, I might consider that information just for you, and not tell her. Simply because I wouldn't want her to think that there was no room for improvement.

 

DD14 has a really hard time with writing, specifically with generating thoughts and ideas. I have counted effort as part of her grade this year, when she has put in a lot of work on a paper but has not produced something I would consider a good final paper. I actually backed her down a bit and am having her work on building good paragraphs, because she was having a hard time with five-paragraph papers.

 

If your step-daughter really worked hard, and this is her best work, I might work with her one more time to polish it up together and then grade that version. I would have her isolate the sentence that she thinks is her thesis and make it clearer and stronger. And I would have her do the same thing with her topic sentences. I'd have her take out the quote or provide a citation. And then I'd call it good and give her some credit for hard work, in addition to whatever was required on the rubric. I usually attach comments to my daughter's papers, in which I praise something and give her something to work on the next time.  But I haven't graded her down for skills that she is still learning but hasn't mastered.

 

However, writing is very hard for my daughter, and she needs extra support and scaffolding. If I had a student who was a stronger writer and could do better work, I would grade harder. Your step-daughter might fall into that category.

 

In addition to a rubric, for her next assignment, you might include a graphic organizer that she has to fill in, where she writes in her thesis, topic sentences, and supporting details. I'd have the sentences written out fully, but the details could just be bullet points. Or you could require her to outline first. I really do think she has some good things to say, and giving her some tools to help her organize her thoughts might help.

 

Writing was my strong suit in school, but all of my kids struggle with it, and I find it hard to teach and grade. Using outlines and graphic organizers has helped them.

Edited by Storygirl
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Thanks again!  No, she doesn't know that I submitted her essay.  It was mainly for me!  And actually, the grader commented on many of the things I did, but still gave her an almost perfect score.  

 

I required an outline and SDD just wouldn't do it for me.  I am hoping she sees the value in it now, as she really scrambled in organizing and writing without a structure.  It was a long and frustrating process for both of us.  

 

Tomorrow, I've decided to play a game in which I give her a variety of prompts and she responds with a thesis and three supporting points.  No pressure.  Just fun.  She liked that idea.

 

She is very articulate and insightful; we just need to get it transferred to paper!

 

Thank you so much for your many thoughts!

 

 

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She is very articulate and insightful; we just need to get it transferred to paper!

 

 

 

Many creative people struggle with this when they are first honing their craft. One thing you can mention is that there is always the option of recording your thoughts and then simply transcribing them. Not only will it get the exact thoughts on paper, it will get the writer mentally conditioned to do this without the need for recording them first.

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Have you tried asking for her to come up with an outline after she writes her first draft? I was never able to think of the structure first--I always had to get my thoughts out through free-writing first. After that, I could come up with a structure and then rework the essay. Maybe something like that would help?

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Thank you both.  This is an thread from April. :)  She will be doing Cyber School this year.

 

She did write two very nice pieces after the above mentioned essay.  

 

Thanks for your thoughts!

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Just facing a very similar problem, need to teach a 16 y.o. to write essays during his summer vacations, I got less than three month left. Young guy has a very weak knowledge about what introduction and conclusion mean, what is thesis and essay body. But the biggest problem is lack of ideas, inspiration, kid writes max 5 sentences and says he can't any more .. I gave him a task to read 30-40 pages daily, I hope the rule "the more you read, the better you write" (explained here bid4papers.com/blog/read-more-write-better/ ) works in our case. I think one can't learn writing good without good vocabulary, basic knowledge of essay parts, good grammar and developed imagination, of course. One needs to generate ideas, and good reading is huge motivating power, other authors are very motivating. I try to explain my student that reading is a new fashion, let's see the result in 3 months.

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