This week we are reading one of my favorite poems by Marge Piercy, To Be Of Use. I like it because Piercy writes about the value of working hard for something and “straining in the muck and the mud” when work gets difficult. This is a theme that we will apply for the next few weeks as they work hard on their newest essay--an argumentative essay. I plan to push them to dig into the muck and mud of writing to produce their highest quality writing yet. I blogged about this process last year for Oakland Schools if you’re interested in more detail of what I mean.
We’ll do a benchmark, timed argument essay on Tuesday. I’ll grade it so they know where they stand, but it won’t “count.” They need to start getting a feel for writing under pressure, and I need to know what types of raw skills they have with timed, argumentative writing. Wednesday, I’ll give the unit essay assignment, and we’ll begin discussing different ways to approach it in class. I’ll begin writing conferences in class on Friday for students who are ready. Encourage your students to talk through their arguments with you. Often students need to talk through their arguments and be pushed to consider alternative points of view. Their positions (and essays!) will evolve and grow in complexity the more they talk.
We are also doing a great deal of reading this week to practice our ability to discern an author’s argument in a text. Students will read two contemporary pieces--an excerpt from Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich and an essay about the philosophical side of the medical field--and an “old” piece entitled “Labour” by Thomas Carlyle. Many students are struggling with reading and understanding the complicated, older texts. Please encourage them to tackle these early and take advantage of the extra resources (especially the guided reading videos) on Google Classroom.
Last thing: rhetorical analysis essays are being returned on Monday. I tried to get them done by last Friday but just couldn’t swing it. Please talk to your students about their essays. I try really hard to give lots of comments so they understand their score and know what they need to do next to improve. If they don’t understand those two things, encourage them to come see me and we can talk about the essay one-on-one.
Have a great week--enjoy arguing with your students ;)
Mrs. Hattie Maguire