Current/Recent Reading List

10 March 2007

Put It In Writing

Tuesday marks the day of the 10th grade writing test, a day of much rejoicing in the English department, because we can finally turn our attention away from writing cause/effect and extended definition essays. Of course, a day of mourning will follow in May, when the results come in.

Still, the arrival of test day will come as a relief to me, because I can get a break from reading these awful drafts for a while. Since the test falls in March, you can imagine that all I've hammered away at since the second semester started is writing, writing, writing. Granted, the kids need to practice and learn, but more than anything else I do, teaching writing has that beat-your-head-against-a-wall aspect to it. How can you help kids who refuse to write? Or who can't speak English? Or who try really hard but can't put together functional sentences to save their lives? Or who don't understand that, when they are prompted to analyze the causes or the effects of something, they are not being asked to just give some of their general opinions on an issue? Well, it is not that we won't continue to write this semester, but at least we can really start getting into literature.

The official bureaucratic rhetoric is that this is not an English test, but a writing test which the entire school should have been preparing kids for. So, theoretically, the whole school should feel responsible for the poor scores that we are bound to receive. But we all know which department has most of the weight on its shoulders. So be it. If our scores suck a little less than they did last year, I will feel a measure of triumph.

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