Writing - Help with critiquing essays

Julie in MN
Posts: 2928
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: AHL Essay grading question, for the "experts" ;)

Unread post by Julie in MN » Fri Aug 10, 2012 10:34 pm

I'm agreeing that grading can wait until all the drafts are done, and not sure where he's at on that.

I like his choice of essay topics. It's not too big nor too small. His supporting paragraphs seem almost there (with a few minor typos or edits, but I wouldn't worry about those yet). But like Crystal said, some thinking through the thesis would be helpful. Here's what I see so far:

1. Intro
2. Bikes are faster
3. Bikes are cheaper
4. Bikes are healthier
5. Conclusion

That's a great outline. And I like getting all that info lined up before I have my son go back to his thesis and see if it expresses exactly what he ended up "saying" in his essay. Like Crystal's dd, my son sometimes starts along one path but realizes he has more to say about a slightly different path. So it's easy enough to rework the thesis a little bit, once he gets going.

Starting his intro paragraph with the fun and bike tours and mountain trails is okay, but the transition from that to his thesis is where I feel he's a little precarious. That transition needs to allow for folks who don't really buy into the fun of bikes, as well as those who do. It needs to pull all the readers into wanting to know what he has to say about bikes being actually a better choice -- you want the reader to practically ask you why they are a better choice, and want to read your essay about it. I'm pretty sure the rubric Crystal described will give you some guidance here, but basically he could draw the reader in with the mountain biking and such, but follow it with a big whammo about the topics in his essay. i.e., Even MORE than fun (which this essay isn't about), biking is __________ (here's what the essay is about -- brainstorm a better word than "useful" and hopefully a word or phrase that encompasses fast/cheap/healthy).

Crystal and I like this stuff when it isn't our own kid, I think :)
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

momxnine
Posts: 54
Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2012 6:09 pm

Re: AHL Essay grading question, for the "experts" ;)

Unread post by momxnine » Sat Aug 11, 2012 5:55 am

I feel a little better this morning after sleeping on this. I must admit I was discouraged last night thinking about this writing thing. This was "supposed" to be his finished essay, but I guess he didn't do it right and I'm not smart enough to know what was wrong with it. I've never written an essay in my life that I know of. Maybe way back "in the olden days," but that's too far back to remember. :-)

Yes, I've graduated some kids, but those kids were totally different from these last three. :-) My oldest daughter is a natural writer, so no problem there. My twins could have cared less about writing and I was so busy with "littles" that I didn't worry about it. My oldest son dropped out, left home and eventually had to get a GED. (He's STILL struggling!) My next two girls were also natural writers, so it came easily to them. Then I have my three boys.... I guess *I* am the one who is supposed to be learning something, so God sent my three boys "in my old age," but I don't think I learn very fast and I'm totally exhausted dealing with them. My verse is "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." I have to think about that a lot. I guess I should inscribe it onto some sort of headband that can hang in front of my eyes at all times or something. :-)

Anyway.... back to the topic....sort of....

None of these boys likes to write. I thought Luke's essay was good, especially for him. I don't even understand what a thesis statement is myself. After reading the comments though, I can see what you're saying, so I'll try to work with him on that. I'm going to print out all the comments from the other thread and see what we can come up with to get this figured out.

I guess a part of me is thinking, "Why do they have to know this, when it's not their 'thing'?" But then the other part of me says, "We have to know how to write/communicate so that we can spread the gospel and be able to tell people about Christ." I doubt seriously if any of my boys will go to college, but only the Lord knows that for sure. One, they're not interested, they're all pretty much "hands-on" kids and two, we've pretty much taught them over the years that being self-employed is the way to go, not necessarily college, although I know that for some kids it's necessary because of the field they want to be in. My ds(16) wants to go to college to learn graphic design/fashion design. We are NOT encouraging him in the fashion design department, graphic design would be okay, but as much as he hates school and learning, I'm not even sure if he would be able to sit in a classroom and accomplish it. He just recently took a sewing machine repair class and wants to do that as a business (a hands-on thing), so right now, that's what he's thinking. We'll see....

The ds(14) has NO clue what he's going to do yet. He's my reader, but doesn't like to write. He's my "fitness" kid. He can do so many pushups at one time, you wouldn't believe it! Anyway, he doesn't want to go to college.

#9, #4 son (10) is VERY hands-on and can't sit still for more than 2 minutes. Who knows what the Lord will have him doing. Anyway, I don't know if I should just really push the writing things or just try to get them to do a decent job until they learn more how to write. I've never had them do narration or dictation or any of the Charlotte Mason ideas until we started MFW. They don't even know how to think AND get it on paper yet. I recently bought the course by Susan Wise Bauer called "Writing with Skill" for the older two and "Writing with Ease" for the youngest. It's really good and just teaches the basics of writing. They don't have enough of the basics yet to be able to do the hard stuff. :(

Okay, so that was a LOT of rambling and I'm still back to my struggle.... How to grade subjectively and teach writing to three young men who could care less. :)

Thanks for the links and the comments. We WILL get something figured out. :)
Blessings,
Vicki in SW MO.

Mom to 9, ages 10 - 31, Grammy to 4
Married 32 years, homeschooled for 25 years; 6 graduated, 3 to go

cbollin

Re: AHL Essay grading question, for the "experts" ;)

Unread post by cbollin » Sat Aug 11, 2012 6:43 am

Vicki,

The reason I was guessing it was not final draft was based on the stuff in the LIt/Comp guide where parent/editor works with student. But I wasn't sure if you had done that from the first post. So I guessed.. let's go with draft and she's ready to edit before grading.. yeah.. let's go with that.. I wasn't assuming it was draft for anything like it was a bad writing.

total side note... last night.. I was doing my once in a blue moon ironing. I had to deal with the fact that I had melted crayon on the iron. Oh, but I didn't know it was on there until it transferred to the skort I was ironing. I only use our iron for crayon crafts and pressing the hem on ONE skort of my daughter. well... I got the skort clean. I'm excited. wahoo! that has nothing to do with your essay. I'm just happy!

anyway... I agree with Julie that you should be encouraged on this. The topic was just right for the assignment. (That is something my academic nerd daughter still struggles with... narrowing down a topic. But your son has that skill in this essay.)
The basic structure with outline was well done. (5 paragraph structure). Each paragraph was on one topic. He had the transition words between paragraphs. He has a conclusion and it asserts his opinion. He struggled a bit on the intro paragraph. So does my kid. and Julie's son does too. and with all writing, everyone has typos and grammar points that are missed. Even professional writers. Even Harvard graduated English professors make errors in publications. so don't worry on that. catch what you can. Ask others for an eye on it. Run it through grammar check on word.

Thesis statements are tough. .. but part of the process with the AHL essays over the year is that you'll see improvement over time. Not everything gets fixed in week 1. Next essay... take a little more time on the intro paragraph (rough the paragraph out... revised.. wait on it.. ask for ideas.. ) and thesis sentence statement. Go back over with him in the lessons 1-4 a few of the exercises in the Lit/Comp guide on topic sentences and thesis sentences. Examples are in there. Some students read that on their own and "get it".. Others need to do what even college students have to do "ask professor or tutor.. help me get this". And you'll do fine in that role. You are a good motivated teacher who asked colleagues for tips. So.. I think you'll do fine helping them.

and for week 1 essay, you now have one big item to work on for final draft and for next paper. That will show big improvement.

For essay number 2......One of the other common things to work on over time is in the variety of ways to start a sentence.
print this page on this link and keep it as a reference near his writing books
http://library.bethel.edu/class/tutoria ... ucture.pdf

One idea out there among writing teachers is to try not to use more than 2 of the same type in a row. This is the fitness son. Tell him that writers like to start sentences differently and switch in a new style to break the reps up - just like you don't do 3 routines in a row that focus on working the pecs and never get around to working bi/tricep or delts, or rotators. You mix it a up a bit. And from one routine to another even in pec work... you do something that works the muscle group in a slightly different movement. Writing paragraphs is like that.
He's a fitness person.. he understands the need for proper warm up and stretches... intro paragraphs are like that. (I'm a fitness instructor.. it makes sense to me.. especially for design of an all strength training class.. )

then... after a couple of more essays, it will time to work on something new as he begins to learn those 2 skills.. time to work on new skills.

you have all year and next year.. and he'll grow a lot in skills. This week for the essay, you have one bigger thing to work on. That's plenty.

and my almost 17 y.o has no idea what she wants to do, and isn't all sure on college either. She thinks she wants to go, sorta.. kinda... she has no idea what she wants to study or do...

just be encouraged.. his week 1 essay is not a disaster. ((hugs))

-crystal

momxnine
Posts: 54
Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2012 6:09 pm

Re: AHL Essay grading question, for the "experts" ;)

Unread post by momxnine » Sat Aug 11, 2012 7:07 am

Thanks Crystal! I haven't read it yet, but thanks. :-) I have 12 pages of "writing helps" from the boards printed out to read on our trip today and my highlighter to mark stuff. I love highlighters! :-)
Blessings,
Vicki in SW MO.

Mom to 9, ages 10 - 31, Grammy to 4
Married 32 years, homeschooled for 25 years; 6 graduated, 3 to go

TammyB
Posts: 87
Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2006 10:27 pm

AHL - 1st Argumentative Essay HELP

Unread post by TammyB » Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:29 pm

BlossomsGirl wrote:DS has been working this paper this week and has declared it finished, even though he is about 100 words short of the 350 required. When I informed him that he needed to lengthen it he replied that he doesn't have anything to add to it and got quite upset. To his credit, he did work through the checklist, but he did not provide a title, name, or date. Do I stand by making him improve it or do I accept it as is. Writing has never been his "thing", and I hate starting High School like this.
Have you read it and pointed out specific places where he could provide additional information/proof to his argument? If you can find areas that need further explanation, I would definitely have him revise it.

Julie in MN
Posts: 2928
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: AHL - 1st Argumentative Essay HELP

Unread post by Julie in MN » Tue Aug 21, 2012 6:14 pm

TammyB wrote: If you can find areas that need further explanation, I would definitely have him revise it.
I agree with evaluating whether he has fully supported his statements. If he really has, then at my house a 9th grader could be done. I would probably give a little speech about how each college prof will be different about such things.

My son's friend tells a story about his 10th grade public school essay that was supposed to be a certain length and when the student turned it in, he told the teacher, "You'll like this one." "Why?" "Because it's a short read." Its less than half the length. He got a good grade (my son can't remember right now if it was A but it might have been). Another teacher might have failed him, but there is teacher discretion according to teacher goals etc.

Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

BlossomsGirl
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2012 10:04 am

Re: AHL - 1st Argumentative Essay HELP

Unread post by BlossomsGirl » Fri Aug 24, 2012 8:23 am

Thank you both. He actually went back and added more to the essay on his own. He is away on a camping trip right now, but he left me the finished product on the table. I picked it up and read the title, in which he only capitalized the first word, and put it back down wondering where the eight years of English grammar I have spent with him went.

I have now read through it. The paper is logical and his argument is sensible. His final paragraph has the word "advantage" used in it 4x, and is very short because he only restates one word from each of the three arguments.

His paper is about how electric motors are better than gas-powered motors for flying remote controlled airplanes. Apparently this is a big disagreement in his hobby. His argument is that they are quieter, cleaner, and smaller. I do see where he added a sentence about gliders just to make it longer as it sticks out as having nothing to do with the topic. I know he knows it just sticks out and its only purpose is to add length.

Overall, his spelling and grammar are fine, except for that title. His structure works, but his style is lacking. I am going to work with him on an attention grabber and a title / final clincher that works together. As far as the length of the paper, we will see if there is anywhere he can add to it, but I am going to give him the "professor talk" and not worry too much about it. I see it as a B to B- paper.

Julie in MN
Posts: 2928
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: AHL - 1st Argumentative Essay HELP

Unread post by Julie in MN » Fri Aug 24, 2012 11:51 am

BlossomsGirl wrote:Thank you both. He actually went back and added more to the essay on his own. He is away on a camping trip right now, but he left me the finished product on the table. I picked it up and read the title, in which he only capitalized the first word, and put it back down wondering where the eight years of English grammar I have spent with him went.
My son totally missed the whole title format, too. I chalk it up to not having seen a lot of titles yet, and if you throw in a few casual book titles where nothing is capitalized, then he might not really have picked up the typical format?
BlossomsGirl wrote:I have now read through it. The paper is logical and his argument is sensible. His final paragraph has the word "advantage" used in it 4x, and is very short because he only restates one word from each of the three arguments.
We had fun with one of my son's poem in WHL when he used the word "feel" in almost every line. We were correcting it orally and the first time, I said, hmmm, is there a better word we could use here? Then the next time I said the word "feel" a little louder as I was reading the sentence, and he knew we'd be looking for another word. By the last line, it was, "FEEL? FEEL? How many times is that now?" And we were truly ROFL. It was a good lesson for him, because he truly didn't notice that kind of thing before, and he does now :)
BlossomsGirl wrote:His paper is about how electric motors are better than gas-powered motors for flying remote controlled airplanes. Apparently this is a big disagreement in his hobby. His argument is that they are quieter, cleaner, and smaller. I do see where he added a sentence about gliders just to make it longer as it sticks out as having nothing to do with the topic. I know he knows it just sticks out and its only purpose is to add length.
It seems like a good topic and good support. His teenage solution of adding an unrelated paragraph is, well, a typical halfhearted try. I've tutored kids in a big program and there are lots of silly teenaged solutions out there. It's his first high school essay - I'd tell him I noticed, take it out if unnecessary, and move on.
BlossomsGirl wrote:Overall, his spelling and grammar are fine, except for that title. His structure works, but his style is lacking. I am going to work with him on an attention grabber and a title / final clincher that works together. As far as the length of the paper, we will see if there is anywhere he can add to it, but I am going to give him the "professor talk" and not worry too much about it. I see it as a B to B- paper.
You know your family and your grading system, but if he got the whole 5 paragraph essay format and had fine grammar, I'd think he'd get a B+ or A- on his first one, depending on how well he follows your final instructions :) Then by the end of the year, hopefully you won't be seeing those teensy ending paragraphs and such. Having had a veeery-diffffficult-student (middle dd), I may give more credit for effort than some.

Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

BlossomsGirl
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Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2012 10:04 am

Re: AHL - 1st Argumentative Essay HELP

Unread post by BlossomsGirl » Mon Aug 27, 2012 9:08 pm

Thanks Julie. I ended up giving him a B+ and had him "polish" it. (We did IEW last year) I find grading hard in the homeschool because I don't know, in all subjects, if I expect too much or not, and to further complicate it what may be too much for one child is really not enough for another.

Michelle

MelissaB
Posts: 369
Joined: Sun May 09, 2010 10:01 pm

HELP! Grading Writing

Unread post by MelissaB » Sun Oct 13, 2013 8:46 pm

Jeana wrote:I really don't have a clue even after reading the pages on evaluating the writing how to grade this paper. This is her first essay that has been written. We hadn't done the previous ones and now we are going back and doing those. Any help, criticism, etc. would be valued.

Thank you,
Jeana
  • Essay Week 6
    Exploring World History
    Abigail

    Dear sister,
    It is very good to hear from you. It has been quite hot here in Egypt! Father’s business seems to be Booming which is quite exciting, thanks for asking in your previous letter. It seems that the thought of a nice hot emmer wheat roll is irresistible nowadays. Even though, his cakes, and finer bread sales have been down…he thinks it’s because of all the people talking about Pharaoh Semerkhet the way that they do. Which I might add is not very nice things. Though, I have been to the house of pharaoh to deliver bread, and visit with his daughter. They seem like very nice people, and his decisions don’t seem as rash as the people make them out to be. Do you remember the famine that I told you about? The one that happened three years ago to the day…? If you do not I shall remind you, it started on the first of Akahat, and continued on until the 20th of Shemu. It was bad the crops failed, and all of the animals caught disease. I remember eating only the burnt crumbs off of the bread on the floor from years before. Now Semerkhet had just begun his reign then and was I have admit quite foolish. Here in Egypt we have different classes of people. We have the royal class, the commoner class (which is when you aren’t poor but you still had to work a little to put food on the table. But you could still be invited to the house of Pharaoh. ) and then you have the peasants who live on the streets. Well, while the peasants where dying constantly due to hunger, even more than usual, and the commoners (that’s the rank we would be classed) Lived but struggled to…Pharaoh lived in glorious riches…and ate three meals a day and never had to use the word hunger unless he was speaking of his cat Sumersat. I guess the people never ever forgave him for watching half the kingdom die. Pharaoh gives us the provisions to bake the finer breads and cakes, unlike the emmer rolls. So he gets the payment from them, that’s why father believes that that’s why no one want to buy it. Anyways, away from the negative…the other day I got to go and eat in the house of Pharaoh, how I got invited there is a long story that shall be saved for another letter. But OH you should of seen it, there was enough food to feed all of Egypt on one table there was: Antelope, gazelle, hippo, crocodile and ostrich. Also: Pomegranates, almonds, peaches, pine nut, and pistachios! I don’t think I will have to eat again for a month!!! Again it was great to hear from you sister, since you moved to Israel it has been quite lonely! Pregnant you say? That is so exciting; I cannot wait to meet the little one in the rainy season when you come to visit! Send love to your family, and I will do so to ours.

    With great love your little sister
Hi, Jeana,
My dh and I are both writers (he's full-time; I'm some-of-the-time now. ;) ).

Abigail's writing is very good. Her imagery and organization is super. It's written in a comfortable conversational-style manner that is easy to read, and full of great description and visual imagery. She's already writing naturally.

So, if it were our girl, I would watch for: 1.) spelling errors and 2.) basic grammar: punctuation at the end of sentences; complete sentences (not sentence fragments); and subject/verb agreement.

She's ready to go! Great work! :)

Melissa B.
Melissa B. (Arkansas)
Girls ages 16 & 13
Completed K, 1st, and Investigate {ECC; CTG; RTR; Expl.-1850; and 1850-Mod. Times}
"That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,.." Titus 2:4

Jeana
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 5:14 pm

Re: HELP! Grading Writing

Unread post by Jeana » Mon Oct 14, 2013 1:22 am

Melissa,

Thank you so much for your opinion. My weakest point in school was the grammar portion. I am good with spelling but punctuation and grammar just didn't click with me. I have learned a lot over the years home schooling but still a major struggle. Should I just pay someone to do this for me? Would it debilitate her to much for me just to do the best I can to learn and teach these things?

Again Thank you,

Jeana

Julie in MN
Posts: 2928
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: HELP! Grading Writing

Unread post by Julie in MN » Mon Oct 14, 2013 11:10 am

Hi Melissa, how exciting to have your experience & contribution regarding writing on the board. This is an area where I really feel homeschoolers can bless one another.

Hi Jeana,
Basically I agree with Melissa that the content is excellent (I'd give her an A) and after that, I rarely miss a chance to work on writing skills, as those can be worked on even with the most advanced writers. So basically, I'm just adding to those two.

As far as the content, it demonstrates she has grasped the historical setting from reading Cat of Bubastes, she shows a knowledge of details of the history era (may I say wow?!), and applied them to her assignment, which is what a history teacher is looking for. Remember that this is a history essay and not an English essay. In WHL, these are far more casual than the argumentative essays she will be working on for her English credit.

As for the writing skills, I'll just list a few I might focus on, +/-, since it usually works best to limit the focus (although I often forget to do that!).

On the plus side,
- She has many details, or in other words she demonstrates that she has something to say and a reason for the reader to keep going. This is a big hurdle for some students.
- She has a logical order -- she answers questions about her dad's business and expands on them, those details branch off to other interesting topics, she explains things and demonstrates a reason for explaining them (her friend doesn't live there), and she ends with an inquiry about her friend's life.
- She keeps to her style, which is a chatty letter to a friend.
- She tries a variety of technical skills, from parentheses to a semicolon and a colon, as well as handling the tense switches from past to present pretty well.

On the "here are some things we could work on" side, it's hard to tell whether some of these are just typos or whether she needs explanation, so in case she already knows I'd just start out briefly,
- One paragraph is a big chunk to read without stopping. Paragraphs help the reader to follow the conversation. Paragraphs help the writer to evaluate whether some topics were skimpier than she realized, or whether her ideas flow in the way she intended. Typically a letter can have a paragraph saying hello and responding to the previous letter, a paragraph adding news, and a final paragraph asking questions and looking towards the next letter (if you used PLL/ILL, I remember looking at Helen Keller's letters). Of course a "personal" letter can be organized any way that reflects you, but I'd encourage her to consider using two or three paragraphs.
- She is placing commas "conversationally" where she might pause, which I did for many years and didn't get beat up too badly for it, but grammatically correct commas are placed only for certain reasons. I'm thinking of examples like, "Even though, his cakes, and finer bread sales have been down…" which grammatically should be "Even though his cakes and finer bread sales have been down," and then that would be followed by a contrasting portion, kind of like, "Even though it was hot, she was wearing a winter coat."

Here is another example where her commas could be improved: "If you do not I shall remind you, it started on the first of Akahat, and continued on until the 20th of Shemu." I think a grammar teacher would prefer this: "If you do not[there is an implied comma and "then" here, which are probably optional because the sentence will be so short] I shall remind you,[period or possibly a colon but not a comma] it started on the first of Akahat,[you don't need a comma here because the rest is still connected to the original subject "it"] and continued on until the 20th of Shemu."

She might try reading each sentence aloud as if it were all alone, to see how it really sounds.
- This is just a personal preference, but when I have to use the same words twice in a row (without purposely trying to make a parallel), I try find another way to say it: "that’s why father believes that that’s why"


I wouldn't do much more than that. Also, I don't usually edit the details of grammar etc. until we've done all the changes we want to make.

Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

Jeana
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 5:14 pm

Re: HELP! Grading Writing

Unread post by Jeana » Tue Oct 15, 2013 2:21 pm

Julie,

Wow! This is what I cannot do. This is where I let my children down in their writing. I struggle to find and be able to intelligently show where they go wrong grammatically. I wish I could just hire someone to do this for me. I just don't have anyone like that here. My daughter has amazing tallent but her grammar is lacking. I will show her this and I think she will get much encouragement. Thank you so very much for your insights and input.

Jeana

Julie in MN
Posts: 2928
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Location: Minnesota

Re: HELP! Grading Writing

Unread post by Julie in MN » Tue Oct 15, 2013 10:31 pm

Jeana,
Feel free to post if you need help. I think when folks are willing to share as they work through these things, it helps others as well. I have a heart for helping homeschoolers with writing, because I see so many trying all these expensive programs and classes or even sending kids to group schools, when I feel that all a student needs is feedback from "a reader" who tells them whether they have communicated well. Kind of like talking :)

Take care,
Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

Julie in MN
Posts: 2928
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Please help...

Unread post by Julie in MN » Thu Jan 23, 2014 6:51 pm

Amy C. wrote:Please help... me critique my ds's AHL paper. I know he has some comma problems and misspelled words but needing some objective feedback on the paper as a whole. I asked him about doing this and he is ok with me posting here. If you need to pm me you can. TIA!

A Comparision of the Greek and Roman Gods to the True and Living

Throughout the centuries sinful people have tried to replace the true and living God with various gods and spirits. These dead and failed replacements have always lead people to their wicked demise. This paper will compare these replacements to the true God. Jehovah God is the one and only, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, true, and living God.

First, in the many poems and narratives regarding Greek and Roman mythology, we see how the Greek and Roman Gods are protrayed with human attributes, emotions, and faults. These faults include anger, lust, greed, regret, and immature behavior. This leads us to believe that the Greek and Roman gods are not real, but figments of the imagination of ancient human minds.

Next, we learn from the poems and narratives of old, how the Greek and Roman Gods are not omnipotent, neither omnipresent, nor omniscient. The Greek and Roman gods do not have the power of Jehovah God. The gods cannot raise people from the dead nor change past mistakes. The gods frequently regret what they have done. However God has succeeded in all that and does not regret his decisions because they are perfect.

Finally, the various gods each are a deity over a mortal occupation or other part of creation. These mortal occupations are frequently human inventions. These deities include, gods or godesses of war, marriage, sleep, hearth, agriculture, hunting, wine, and thieveiry. It is necessary to point out the real God is holy and pure and God over everything, not just one area of a sinful mortal life or just one part of creation. He (God) created all things and sustains all things. (Col. 1:16, John 1:3).

Jehovah God is the one and only, omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient, true and living God. God is not a figment of the imagination of people with mortal attributes. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere at the same time, and is not a god over one part of creation. This information, I believe, disqualifies the Greek and Roman gods from even being compared to the true and living Jehovah God. There is no god but Jehovah.

Thanks!
Amy C.
Hi Amy,
You know I can't resist reading a student's writing. It's a wonderful thing that our students are learning these skills.

First of all, I know God loves your son for writing this paper. It is a fierce defense of his God, and I love that. His ending has me singing the Days of Elijah song.

However, at this point in AHL I like to see students pushed a little further in making an argument. According to the AHL instructions (p. 113), the student can't just assert his opinions but must give reasons for and against, and the argument must be acceptable to the intended audience. That's where I'm wanting to push this student a little.

I'm just one opinion and don't know your student at all, so take my thoughts with a large grain of salt, but here is my reaction:

1. INTRO: His opening is strong but it probably won't be acceptable to his intended audience. Instead, I prefer to start with something that most people will agree with or at least find intriguing. If he really likes his first sentence, then maybe it could be reworked to at least begin in an acceptable way, maybe, "People have worshiped many different gods and spirits throughout history, but really they are all just efforts by sinful people to replace the true and living God." That could work, but I'm not really sure it will be easy to connect to his thesis statement in this essay? I might begin with refining his thesis statement and then go back and figure out how to open his paper.

2. THESIS STATEMENT: I'll admit that some of my son's college professors have been fine with statements like, "This paper will...," so maybe you are also. However, technically that doesn't belong in an argumentative paper. So, instead of "This paper will...," his thesis statement needs to be tightened up to assert something about Jehovah God vs. Greek and Roman mythology. He is not going to bring in the Native American gods or any others, so I'm not sure that "Jehovah God is the one and only" will work here, either. If he likes that, maybe it could be a little teaser at the close of the paper, but I think it's too broad for the thesis statement or the brief outline of his supporting facts.

3. SUPPORTING ARGUMENTS: His supporting reasons are good but they are very general. Your son is in a position now that he's read about these other gods, and many college students haven't (or haven't read anything but sweet children's stories about Greek and Roman mythology). Therefore, he can be much stronger if he gives a couple of shocking examples from specific myths. It's also nice to add an example or two from the Bible that seems to be a similarly supernatural event and show how it is really very different - that is the part of the assignment that says to include reasons "against any positions that you oppose."

Now, I am not big on expecting 9th graders to be 12th graders. My son was still very casual in his writing in 9th. I also allow a lot of leeway in letting the student find his own voice. But I do try to nudge them forward in communicating their ideas convincingly :)

Hope that helps a bit,
Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

Amy C.
Posts: 203
Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2009 9:12 am

Re: Please help...

Unread post by Amy C. » Fri Jan 24, 2014 2:42 pm

Thank you, Julie! Writing has been our nemesis. I am seeing improvement. I just have a hard time scoring him. I am trying to strike that balance of offering affirming, positive remarks and encouraging (nudging as you called it ;) ) him to improve. Sometimes, especially with this particular child, it helps to have an objective person giving a critique and offering advice. I let him read your response and he said, "I can see what she is saying.". Not sure he would have had same response with me! ;)

One thing I had him working on was improving his use of words and sentences, moving away from "Dick and Jane" writing which I feel he has improved upon. I have also been trying to get him to "beef up" his points by giving specific examples to support his paragraphs.

Alas, writing doesn't come naturally to him, and I have a hard time coaching him. Thank you for your help!

Amy C.

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