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EmilyGF

writing sample - DS-almost-13 - narrative historical "essay"

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HI all,

 

I've always been worried about DS13's writing because language has never come naturally to him. So this is his weak area and I'd love it if I could get some feedback on his writing. Is he on track for his age/grade (7th)? He read two (short) books about the Battle of New Orleans before writing this. He wrote this for his writing class and is generally interested in sea battles, which is why he branched out to a land battle. (I'm not super thrilled with amount of writing class feedback, which is why I'm posting.) This is his rough draft.

 

**************************

(Writing sample removed for DS's privacy.)

 

Edited by EmilyGF

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The biggest issue I see is that he starts off with a statement that he wants to prove--this battle was significant because the Americans needed a land victory in order to gain Britain's respect--and then he spends most of the rest of the essay telling the story, NOT proving his point. One of the best lessons I learned in writing was to evaluate every single paragraph in light of the thesis statement. Does this paragraph work toward my goal of proving this point? If not, it needs to be adjusted, or it needs to go. 

 

Regarding his age and whether this is on track--many, many kids that age struggle with this; it's not out of the ordinary at all. I'm not a writing teacher, but I taught middle school history for several years. And he DID formulate a thesis statement that he can argue (some kids really struggle to do that!); he just needs to adjust the body of the essay so that it lines up with that thesis. 

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I'm not sure what the purpose of the assignment was. If it was to write a thesis paper, then I agree - he didn't succeed. He has a statement that could be a thesis right at the start, but then he just narratively tells the story of the battle.

 

As a summary, it's fine. I don't see it as being "behind" other kids this age. His grammar, mechanics, and vocabulary are all fine, but he has very repetitive sentence models, so if I was going to work on something to improve the paper, I might work on that. The organization is fine overall.

 

Again, I don't know what the intention of the writing is, but I think this type of writing - tell me about the ___ writing - is hard to make engaging. It's not an engaging paper, but summaries aren't engaging for the most part. I think the best thing you could do would be to make him write a thesis paper on it - prove that the battle was the most important one in the war or was a turning point or whatever. Or, it would be to change the assignment to be something with a clear audience or format. When I've wanted my kids to write a basic summary, sometimes I've had them write it as a children's book text. But you could have him write a newspaper editorial from the time about the battle. Or he could get creative and write an eyewitness account from someone there or a diary entry from one of the principal players. All of those formats are automatically going to have more to play around with in terms of the writing because they have a clearer purpose than this "summary." This is basically a narration.

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Thanks! He was supposed to get feedback in class but apparently the time ran out. He's going to be revising tonight/this week and I think this input will be helpful (I'll take out what isn't).

 

I'm not a writing oriented person and I actively remember hating English class assignments, so I have a hard time critiquing what my kids write. My husband does a lot of writing, but I think the way you write varies field to field. While he's highly respected and successful in his field, he once sent a copy of something he had written to his brother and his brother wouldn't even read it, responding, "This is unreadable." 

 

Emily

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I'm not sure what the purpose of the assignment was. If it was to write a thesis paper, then I agree - he didn't succeed. He has a statement that could be a thesis right at the start, but then he just narratively tells the story of the battle.

 

As a summary, it's fine. I don't see it as being "behind" other kids this age. His grammar, mechanics, and vocabulary are all fine, but he has very repetitive sentence models, so if I was going to work on something to improve the paper, I might work on that. The organization is fine overall.

 

Again, I don't know what the intention of the writing is, but I think this type of writing - tell me about the ___ writing - is hard to make engaging. It's not an engaging paper, but summaries aren't engaging for the most part. I think the best thing you could do would be to make him write a thesis paper on it - prove that the battle was the most important one in the war or was a turning point or whatever. Or, it would be to change the assignment to be something with a clear audience or format. When I've wanted my kids to write a basic summary, sometimes I've had them write it as a children's book text. But you could have him write a newspaper editorial from the time about the battle. Or he could get creative and write an eyewitness account from someone there or a diary entry from one of the principal players. All of those formats are automatically going to have more to play around with in terms of the writing because they have a clearer purpose than this "summary." This is basically a narration.

 

I noticed the bolded as well. I think he'd probably benefit from listening to someone else read his writing aloud (while he doesn't look at it) - that can help him notice things he might otherwise miss when rereading his own work.

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Thanks, Farrar and Amanda.

 

I'm going to remove the writing sample now since he's old enough to care. :-)

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