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kristin0713

feedback - 7th grade

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I'm looking for general feedback on this and either reassurance that my DD is writing on grade level or suggestions on what to do for 8th grade to prepare her for high school.  She will be taking the BraveWriter Middle School Writing Projects class in May and my plan is for her to do a few more BW classes next year if that goes well.  But if she needs more help than that, I am totally open to other writing classes.  (I just don't know which!)

She wrote this paper over many weeks by writing freewrites about roller coasters at Disney World, then typing up the freewrites and editing them individually.  This is based on our vacation last fall.  She loves to read travel books and magazines and I think you can see that influence.  I offered some suggestions and helped with revisions but it is largely her work.  Today she printed the final copy. I know it's long, so thank you in advance for reading! 

Edited to add -- she does use appropriate paragraphs, but that didn't come through in my copy/paste. 

___________________________________

Coasting with Disney

Have you ever sped down a highway in the dark while riding a limousine? Or taken an expedition train through Mount Everest and seen a yeti? What about riding on The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and seeing the Dwarfs’ very own cottage? These experiences and more can be found at Walt Disney World.

Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom is an awesome roller coaster. You ride a train through snow-capped mountains. When you are going up, you stop at the top and the track appears to be broken. This coaster has forward and backward drops and a frightening yeti looming over you. The end of this ride is through a mountaineering gift shop.

If you like wild rides, then Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Magic Kingdom is one for you. It is a roller coaster that takes you through lots of rocky canyons. The first time it takes you up, it gets very loud and you go through a dark cavern with bats hanging from the ceiling. The twists and turns are pretty fun!

I also love Rock’N’ Roller Coaster in Hollywood Studios. After a 3, 2, 1 countdown, it shoots you out at an exhilarating speed! This thrilling highway takes you upside down twice. There are road signs along the way as you ride through the dark while listening to Aerosmith music.

Space Mountain is also a roller coaster in the dark, but there are little lights on the walls. You can kind of see through the darkness. You sit in a three seater rocket and it shoots you through a tunnel with blinking blue lights! This coaster has small drops and fast turns. At the end, it takes you through a tunnel with flashing red lights before you slow to a stop and the ride is over. This roller coaster is located in Magic Kingdom’s Tomorowland.

The newest roller coaster in Magic Kingdom is The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. You sit in a train while twisting and turning throughout rocky hills. At one point, it takes you through a dark diamond mine filled with sparkling gems. It feels like you’re underground and you can see the dwarfs hard at work. Dopey looks adorable with diamonds on his eyes! At the end, you see Snow White and the dwarfs dancing happily in their cottage. You also see the evil witch standing outside the door with her poisoned apple. This is a really fun ride!

Brand new in 2018, Slinky Dog Dash joined the Disney lineup of coasters. It is located in Hollywood Studios’ Toy Story Land. While you are waiting on line, you can see pictures that Andy drew. You ride through Andy’s backyard in a coaster that looks like Slinky Dog. This is a lot tamer than Rock’N’ Roller Coaster, but it is still wild. You must be at least 38 inches to ride. This ride has small drops, and at one point, Slinky Dog backs up with a 3-2-1 countdown, and then... SURPRISE! He dashes!

Animal Kingdom’s Primeval Whirl is a mini roller coaster located in Chester and Hester’s Dino- Rama which is a part of Dinoland U.S.A.  The ride sets you up to feel like you are going back in time as you sit in a mini time machine. This ride spins and bumps along the track. The jerkiness made me feel nauseous, so if you get motion sickness, you might want to skip this ride.  The illusion of time-travel is represented by clocks, spinning black and white discs, and pictures of dinosaurs. You must be 48 inches tall to ride this wild mini coaster.

Fantasyland has many tame rides, but the Barnstormer is an exception. This coaster is located near the Dumbo ride in Storybook Circus. You ride in a red airplane with wings on two of the seats.  At the beginning, you soar through a big sign that has a picture of Goofy dressed like a pilot. This ride is fast and has small drops. A great time to ride this mini coaster is during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.  There will probably be barely any lines, or maybe none at all. If you’re lucky, you might also meet Goofy dressed in a Santa suit. You must be 35 inches tall to ride the Barnstormer.

Well, there you have it folks. Those are all the coasters in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida. From dark, speedy Rock ‘N’ Roller coaster to the small yet wild Barnstormer, all these coasters are special in their own way. FUN! FAST! THRILLING! Those are just some words to describe these AWESOME coasters in Disney World. And it’s all thanks to Walt Disney and the fact that he never gave up on his extraordinary dream.

Edited by kristin0713

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She has a great voice. I love her "sales" style - which is one of my boys' favorite ways to write as well. She has great descriptive words. Her vocabulary and mechanics are solid. The organization is fine. She seems like she's in good shape for a middle schooler.

I would say the introduction might the one place that this piece could use a bit more work. It's slightly repetitive to the paper itself. The hook isn't the best, I guess. For example, from the moment she starts describing the specific coasters, it's obvious what she's talking about to anyone who has been to WDW and probably to many people who haven't. I generally think a hook should go bigger than the specifics of the paper. Where can you take thrill rides that go from the highest mountains to the darkest caves? Something that teases a little more. Or, even better, something that's personal or makes you think of the sensation of being on a coaster in general. Have you ever finished the day having ridden so many thrill rides that you feel like your body is still swaying along the tracks as you try to settle into sleep? But this is not to say it's bad. It's totally fine.

Looking ahead... this paper has a super simple organization, which is fine. It also doesn't have a thesis. It doesn't incorporate citations and I'm guessing that while she looked some details up, that the primary research was just going to WDW. It feels a bit like she's selling it - like it's a brochure, but the purpose isn't totally clear. The next step for writing is writing with a clearer purpose, incorporating research when necessary, and writing with a thesis. One of the things that thesis based writing does is make kids organize things differently. So, if you wanted to do a totally different version of this paper, you might have her answer which coaster at Disney is the best? A thesis paper would say, Expedition Everest is by far the best coaster at any of the WDW parks. Then she'd have specific reasons to argue for it and compare it to the competition.

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Farrar, that is so helpful!  You are right, her knowledge is almost all from going to WDW.  She watched POV videos and read through a Disney travel book to refresh her memory.  I think the lack of purpose comes from the fact that this started as free writes, and then she decided to write about EACH one and then she slapped on an intro and a conclusion. I should have guided her towards making it a brochure, that would have been more appropriate for this!  Your feedback about the intro is super helpful.  Thanks so much!

Ok.  So we need writing projects with a clear purpose.  I had picked out several to do this year from BW's WJ and PW, but we seem to have gone off on a rabbit trail of freewrites.  This is great direction for the next few months!  Thank you 🙂 

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I'll say... if you're enjoying freewriting, it's okay to keep going with that. One thing I left off is that each of these paragraphs is short... getting much more specific and detailed is yet another direction to take writing that is useful for growing it. Somethings like that can come out of a freewrite. 

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It sounds pretty good for 7th grade.  If you wanted to work on five paragraph essay skills you could also encourage her to just pick three of the roller coasters and have an intro and conclusion and a paragraph for each.  Probably try to pick three with the most contrast/unique features like maybe the longest, the scariest or fastest and then the most unusual or something like that.  It sounds funny but learning how to limit/select information is also a good skill.  We are working on it with my grade seven as well but he still tends to write stuff that’s a bit long.

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It’s a fine paper for 7th grade. She has good vocabulary, sentence structure, and mechanics. She also has solid topic sentences. However, the fact that the paragraphs were initially written independently does show.

If you want to do more with this topic, here are some ideas.

-Try rewriting the paper in the 3rd person and cut out half the exclamation points. Most academic writing is in the 3rd person. Taking out the “you” and “me” can be surprisingly difficult.

- Pick an overall structure for the order of the rides. In the current paper, these seems to be no particular reason for the order of the rides. For example, she could organize the rides by type, location, ridership, length, tameness/wildness, age, or some other feature. Then add in transitions based on the organizing principle. If you do this, I recommend using only 3-5 ride for the paper.

- Include more parallel information across the rides. While the current paper lists the name and location for each ride, some features are only mentioned in a few rides. For example, the type of car, seating arrangements, end point, and height restrictions are each described in multiple paragraphs, but not all.

- Pick one of the roller coasters and go more in depth in it. Brainstorm about the different sections of the ride. Look for more sensory details and emotional responses on each part of the ride to give a fuller experience.

- Write a paper that makes recommendations for different rides for different types of people. Instead of simply describing each ride, you daughter will have to analyze and evaulate the rides, which is a higher order thinking skill.

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These are great suggestions and have given me a lot of direction!  Thank you!  I think we are both ready to be done with roller coasters.  For her next paper, I'm going to help her develop a clear purpose and keep the focus more narrow.  

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