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Kendall

Please share your essay requirements for junior or senior English

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 I think I need a clear goal with regard to the number of essays I should require for English each semester. I would love to get an idea about what other people are doing. I tried searching for senior english high school syllabus on google, but that didn't give me any with specific requirements. If your kids took an online class or if you taught this at home about how many did they write each semester? 

My kids are rising 10th and 12th graders

I would also be interested in how much they wrote in other classes, particularly homespun courses.

Thanks,

Kendall 

 

 

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My kids did about 6 polished essays for the year this year (9th), plus another 5 or 6 that we didn't polish, plus other writing assignments, some of which were serious and polished, but were creative or untraditional assignments instead of essays. We'll have a similar number next year for 10th.

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Freshman and sophomore year my kids are usually still learning how to write a good standard essay (~9th) and a literary analysis essay (~10th). I introduce essay writing to them before that and we practice it of course, but usually it takes til 9th grade before they are really proficient. So I don't require much more than a few paragraphs for courses other than English during those years because why ask them to produce something they're not really good at yet? Once those essay writing skills are in place, usually by junior year, they are ready for a lot more writing output.

Last year my junior did 6 literary analysis essays for English, in addition to all the speech writing he did for NCFCA Speech & Debate (which I will award a cumulative half credit for his senior year). For our homemade Comparative Government & Politics he wrote up an outline for a presentation for each chapter in his text (about 13 or so maybe?) and about a 10 page research paper at the end. He also wrote several short .5 - 1 page responses to Critical Thinking in US History prompts. Next year as a senior he will write about the same amount for English & speech/debate. He's also doing a homemade Journalism course that will obviously be pretty writing heavy, using a college text and its writing assignments for each chapter.

My older DS who graduated in 2018 did about the same as younger DS for his English courses, except for the year he self studied for the AP English Language test. That year he wrote about a bazillion timed essays 🙂. I never required much output for most history courses. We mostly watched Great Courses videos and discussed and maybe wrote a short research paper on a topic of interest. He was more of STEM kid and while he was a great writer, he mostly wanted to do math and programming so I let him.

DD is going to be a sophomore next year and she's ready to learn literary analysis so she'll be doing WttW and I think it requires somewhere ~5 literary analysis essays.

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Mine write an essay per week, but those are short essays (1-2 pages), kind of like what SWB outlines in her high school writing lecture. Those essays span all subjects. We take breaks for other things, like poetry weeks and research papers. Last year, in 11th grade, he wrote 25 essays, but again, those are short ones. 

Other writing he does: 2-3 paragraph summaries of various subjects 3x per week (one history, one science, one literature). Research papers twice a year. I think that's it.

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In online English classes, my eldest has done everything from 3 3-5 pg papers in a year long class labelled honors by the provider to 5 3-5 pg papers of various styles plus one research (6-8 pg?) paper in a one semester (not labeled honors) course. In home grown classes, she mostly wrote summaries, short responses, and "five paragraph" (type) papers. I outsourced her English after Freshman year. Senior year, she took a 400-level literature class at the local college. They wrote one essay as part of the midterm, one for the final exam, and one due at the end of the course. There were weekly discussion board posts and short answer test questions, but only the three papers. She also wrote a few one page papers in her foreign language class. She has no love for writing.

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An average writer and a struggling (mild LDs) writer here, who both hated writing (and the extreme effort involved in mentoring DS#2 with writing LD was so exhausting that I shot for quality rather than quantity -- so we didn't manage anywhere near what others mentioned above 😵 😉 . BUT, each year of high school we DID do a weekly timed essay from a past SAT essay prompt (probably the single best/most helpful thing we did all high school for the writing).

Other than for English, we did not do much writing for other subjects, beyond: Math lessons, Science lab reports and tests, a few research papers for History and a few summaries/timeline items and short answer responses from time to time. DS#1 took Spanish as dual enrollment and had a small amount of daily writing for homework practices and for tests. And then we some real-life writing (see list below). I can't remember *how much* we managed in a year, but other kinds of writing we did that were helpful:

- learned note-taking from a lecturer 
- argumentative/persuasive writing (for bill debate for extracurricular of YMCA Youth & Gov't)
- personal essays for scholarship applications 
- multi-page research paper with citations and works cited page
- 1-3 paragraph reader responses to Literature
- literary analysis essay
- real life writing: created resumes for applying to jobs
- business writing: cover letters (to go with resume) and letters of thanks (for scholarship consideration)
- how to put together a power point/slide show to go with an oral presentation 

____________________________
 

For my 1.0 credit high school Lit. & Comp. co-op classes, the Writing is almost all geared to go with the Literature, and we usually do the following per SEMESTER:
- 1 week = several complete sentences / 1 complete paragraph (i.e., the sentences needed for making a complete paragraph)
- 1 week for EACH = 2-3 very short (approx. 1-2 paragraphs/100-200 words) essays or reader responses
- 1 week for EACH = 2-3 medium/short (approx. 3-5 paragraph/300-500 word) essays of various types
- 1 week = revising/polishing one of the previous essays/responses (I would LOVE to actually schedule this TWICE per semester)
- 6-8 weeks = 1 multi-page (3-5 pages) essay -- OR -- 1 multi-page (5-8 page) research paper with citations

Types of assignments -- we don't get to all of these every year, but I try to touch on a wide variety in each semester:
- descriptive essay
- definition essay
- process essay ("how to")
- comparison essay (compare/contrast)
- cause and effect essay (describe situation, present causes/effects, draw conclusion)
- persuasive: argumentative essay (describe problem; propose solution; defend it)
- literary analysis essay: character analysis
- literary analysis essay: literary element(s) in the work
- literary analysis essay: key quotation
- literary analysis essay: theme
- personal application essay
- research/write your resume
- short factual oral presentation (with or without supporting slideshow)
- expository (factual/report) research paper -- I find this is the best one to do when just starting to learn formatting and using citations
- analytical research paper (describe multiple viewpoints, analyze all points, draw a conclusion) -- with citations

Edited by Lori D.
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Thank you, all! This was so helpful. I'm going to set some kind of goal, with rough deadlines because working on any writing one piece can just stretch and stretch for weeks and weeks. 

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It might help to know what "rigorous" schools require.

1-2 essays per semester.  That is all.  Really.

Seriously, I have no idea how anyone ever learns to write anything at all.

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54 minutes ago, EKS said:

It might help to know what "rigorous" schools require.

1-2 essays per semester.  That is all.  Really.

Seriously, I have no idea how anyone ever learns to write anything at all.

This does help. It will especially help me feel better when we have a medically difficult year and only get 5-6 short polished pieces and lots of regular short writing that isn't polished. Which we did. This year will be better. 

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So for reference the literature college class DS took last semester were 2 for the semester (plus one close reading exercise on a few lines from a poem. 

I think here,  it will be more as to what sort of papers. I’ve had it up to here with the literary analysis but we need to tackle research papers at some point soon. 

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My son is doing comp II right now per week. He has a weekly paper (2 page w. references), 3 weekly (200-500 word) discussion posts, 2 (5-page papers w. references). He never was a writer so we focused on grammar, spelling, word usage, putting together a strong paragraph. Then how to make that paragraph an outline and flesh it out. He hardly wrote in 9-10 grade but concludes ENG 1101. ENG 1102 are both easy. It's a community college so it may be easier then a university.

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Hmmm, looking at what my rising Freshmen have left in WWS3 it comes out to 4 short papers (400 wds), 5 medium papers (500+ wds), 5 long papers (700 wds), and one super-long paper (1500 wds), plus some weeks of other writing-related tasks. Neither is a huge fan of writing, no wonder last year was a struggle! In addition to English, I'm expecting some additional writing in History. This thread is making me think that we would be better served by dividing the remainder of WWS over the next two years and then bumping up the writing in other topics and  doing some "practice" (repeat assignments) of the topoi they have previously learned. Whew! That could really make next year more manageable and a lot less stressful. I feel a bit of planning mojo returning. 😀

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On 6/25/2019 at 8:19 PM, EKS said:

It might help to know what "rigorous" schools require.

1-2 essays per semester.  That is all.  Really.

Seriously, I have no idea how anyone ever learns to write anything at all.

I think doing 1-2 serious, polished essays per semester is fine and great if it's done with lots of other shorter writing and focus. And I'm sure this is true of some schools. But this is absolutely not true of the more rigorous private high schools around me or the "good" public schools in the honors/AP track classes. It's a lot more. 

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2 hours ago, Farrar said:

I think doing 1-2 serious, polished essays per semester is fine and great if it's done with lots of other shorter writing and focus. And I'm sure this is true of some schools. But this is absolutely not true of the more rigorous private high schools around me or the "good" public schools in the honors/AP track classes. It's a lot more. 

My only experience is with 9th/10th grade honors English (in a well regarded public high school), 11th grade IB English (first semester; well regarded private IB high school), and DE Comp I and II (at a well regarded CC).  All of them have conformed to the 1-2 polished essays per semester model.  And actually, my two writing-intensive graduate programs (all 25 courses worth) conformed to it as well.  I honestly don't think that a teacher with 100+ students is going to have time to give proper feedback on a whole lot more than that.

 

 

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1 hour ago, EKS said:

My only experience is with 9th/10th grade honors English (in a well regarded public high school), 11th grade IB English (first semester; well regarded private IB high school), and DE Comp I and II (at a well regarded CC).  All of them have conformed to the 1-2 polished essays per semester model.  And actually, my two writing-intensive graduate programs (all 25 courses worth) conformed to it as well.  I honestly don't think that a teacher with 100+ students is going to have time to give proper feedback on a whole lot more than that.

I just know from talking to my kids' friends and my local teacher friends that teens around here do a good many more on average. I think it's a better model to do less honestly. I know AP students need to prep for timed essays, so that's another issue - not polished essays. But I do think the feedback suffers big time. In general, I don't think teachers give students sufficient feedback. We didn't do many more than that - probably more like 2-3 per semester - but they were all short and none of the English papers (and only one history one) involved research other than the assigned materials.

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2 hours ago, Farrar said:

I just know from talking to my kids' friends and my local teacher friends that teens around here do a good many more on average. I think it's a better model to do less honestly. I know AP students need to prep for timed essays, so that's another issue - not polished essays. But I do think the feedback suffers big time. In general, I don't think teachers give students sufficient feedback. We didn't do many more than that - probably more like 2-3 per semester - but they were all short and none of the English papers (and only one history one) involved research other than the assigned materials.

 

I would love to know how private schools handle English. We have a significant weakness there and frankly I have no idea what a “rigorous” semester load looks like in a typical school. 

What sort of weekly writing would it involve? 

Edited by Roadrunner

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I typically stop other assignments in a course during the week (or 2 weeks) that my kids are working on a paper in that subject. Since I focus on teaching across curriculum, I don't consider essay writing strictly an "English" assignment.  Their English credits are lit courses with instruction in how to write/improve writing, but their essays may come from lit, history, science, religion, etc.  In terms of how much they write in general, I would guess they are writing a paper about every 3-4 weeks with assignments having 1-2 weeks to be completed (depends on how much additional research they are required to do for the assignment).

FWIW, I never assign short responses. So my kids are either writing papers or we are discussing.  THere really isn't much in between by 11th grade. 

Works here.

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1 hour ago, Roadrunner said:

 

I would love to know how private schools handle English. We have a significant weakness there and frankly I have no idea what a “rigorous” semester load looks like in a typical school. 

What sort of weekly writing would it involve? 

"Private schools" can mean so many things. When I was teaching in private school, it was a much more low key school, serving kids who were smart, but square pegs for "regular" school in a really small environment. But obviously that's just one sort of private school. When I've heard from families around here, it seems like at the hoidy toidy schools, doing significant writing pretty much every day is relatively common, though that's not all essays - it could be short answer stuff, response papers, timed essays, or more polished essays. Across the board from all sorts of schools, I hear that students are having a lot of "find out about ___ on the internet and write about" assignments as common homework assignments, which is downright dismaying to me.

My feeling is that there are a ton of ways to get to competence in writing and no one set of assignments, style of assignments, or pacing of assignments is the one right way. If students have so much work that they're beleaguered and hate writing or can't really process or get sufficient feedback on it, then that's obviously bad - and that's a problem I see in "rigorous" schools around me. However, I think lots of shorter assignments, fewer longer assignments, more creative assignments, more formulaic assignments, doing tons of polish on a single paper, doing more research papers, doing more document based essays, really focusing on one paper, trying lots of styles of assignments... lots of things can work. And from my time in the education world and classroom, I think this still varies wildly in the classroom too. I think the key thing is that students need feedback and a guiding, encouraging voice with their writing. There's no way to get around that piece of the puzzle.

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44 minutes ago, Farrar said:

"Private schools" can mean so many things. When I was teaching in private school, it was a much more low key school, serving kids who were smart, but square pegs for "regular" school in a really small environment. But obviously that's just one sort of private school. When I've heard from families around here, it seems like at the hoidy toidy schools, doing significant writing pretty much every day is relatively common, though that's not all essays - it could be short answer stuff, response papers, timed essays, or more polished essays. Across the board from all sorts of schools, I hear that students are having a lot of "find out about ___ on the internet and write about" assignments as common homework assignments, which is downright dismaying to me.

My feeling is that there are a ton of ways to get to competence in writing and no one set of assignments, style of assignments, or pacing of assignments is the one right way. If students have so much work that they're beleaguered and hate writing or can't really process or get sufficient feedback on it, then that's obviously bad - and that's a problem I see in "rigorous" schools around me. However, I think lots of shorter assignments, fewer longer assignments, more creative assignments, more formulaic assignments, doing tons of polish on a single paper, doing more research papers, doing more document based essays, really focusing on one paper, trying lots of styles of assignments... lots of things can work. And from my time in the education world and classroom, I think this still varies wildly in the classroom too. I think the key thing is that students need feedback and a guiding, encouraging voice with their writing. There's no way to get around that piece of the puzzle.

 

I don’t have a liberal arts kid and I have never attended an American school (hence my questions). So would a page or two a week (some summary and some analytical) be enough? Mine has done very little writing but can proficiently put together a thesis based Lit essay with supporting quotes.... That’s it. I don’t want to do minimum in high school, but still want to do more than an average but not the load a liberal arts kid would have. So for example if we were to do a Great Books class where there is a response paper (a short one) most weeks, some reading guide writing and 3-4 longer essays per year, would that be less than average for an academic child?

Edited by Roadrunner

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9 minutes ago, Roadrunner said:

 

I don’t have a liberal arts kid and I have never attended an American school (hence my questions). So would a page or two a week (some summary and some analytical) be enough? Mine has done very little writing but can proficiently put together a thesis based Lit essay with supporting quotes.... That’s it. I don’t want to do minimum in high school, but still want to do more than an average but not the load a liberal arts kid would have. So for example if we were to do a Great Books class where there is a response paper (a short one) most weeks, some reading guide writing and 3-4 longer essays per year, would that be less than average for an academic child?

I think that sounds like plenty. I wouldn't worry too much about what others do - I mean, it's good to understand the context, but there's a reason our kids aren't in school - it's not necessarily the best way. I think the question is whether that's enough to grow a good writer. I'd say, absolutely.

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On 6/28/2019 at 6:28 PM, Farrar said:

My feeling is that there are a ton of ways to get to competence in writing and no one set of assignments, style of assignments, or pacing of assignments is the one right way. If students have so much work that they're beleaguered and hate writing or can't really process or get sufficient feedback on it, then that's obviously bad - and that's a problem I see in "rigorous" schools around me. However, I think lots of shorter assignments, fewer longer assignments, more creative assignments, more formulaic assignments, doing tons of polish on a single paper, doing more research papers, doing more document based essays, really focusing on one paper, trying lots of styles of assignments... lots of things can work. And from my time in the education world and classroom, I think this still varies wildly in the classroom too. I think the key thing is that students need feedback and a guiding, encouraging voice with their writing. There's no way to get around that piece of the puzzle.

 

This is so helpful! Thank you for putting it so well!

 

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On 6/25/2019 at 7:19 PM, EKS said:

It might help to know what "rigorous" schools require.

1-2 essays per semester.  That is all.  Really.

That really isn't typical. As someone who teaches Writing I at a state U, I can tell you that only a few of my students come in with this kind of writing history and they are typically from either urban or rural schools. Most of my students can turn out a 3-5 page paper without blinking an eye because they're used to doing LOTS of them. Some have done a couple of 8-10 page papers per year the last couple of years of high school (in addition to LOTS of essays).

To get an idea of what you're preparing for, I assign 5 papers in Eng110. They range from a project proposal w/ annotated bibliography and a 3 page essay at the easy end to an 8-10 page researched argument paper. My students also turn in journals (writings on assigned topics - not personal journals) weekly that range from 200-400 words. These vary in style but start simple with summaries and work into more complex analysis. 

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1 hour ago, Mom22ns said:

That really isn't typical. As someone who teaches Writing I at a state U, I can tell you that only a few of my students come in with this kind of writing history and they are typically from either urban or rural schools. Most of my students can turn out a 3-5 page paper without blinking an eye because they're used to doing LOTS of them. Some have done a couple of 8-10 page papers per year the last couple of years of high school (in addition to LOTS of essays).

To get an idea of what you're preparing for, I assign 5 papers in Eng110. They range from a project proposal w/ annotated bibliography and a 3 page essay at the easy end to an 8-10 page researched argument paper. My students also turn in journals (writings on assigned topics - not personal journals) weekly that range from 200-400 words. These vary in style but start simple with summaries and work into more complex analysis. 

I'm glad that your experience is different.  I explained upthread what I was basing the 1-2 essays per semester claim on.  Here is what I said:

On 6/28/2019 at 1:42 PM, EKS said:

My only experience is with 9th/10th grade honors English (in a well regarded public high school), 11th grade IB English (first semester; well regarded private IB high school), and DE Comp I and II (at a well regarded CC).  All of them have conformed to the 1-2 polished essays per semester model.  And actually, my two writing-intensive graduate programs (all 25 courses worth) conformed to it as well.  I honestly don't think that a teacher with 100+ students is going to have time to give proper feedback on a whole lot more than that.

To clarify, I am assuming that one semester college/graduate courses (3 units) are the equivalent of two high school semesters.

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