Every year around this time I drown in rough drafts. My research paper assignment is process-based so it’s pass/fail. However, much to the chagrin of my 9th graders, that doesn’t mean it’s an easy assignment. Because my students tend to think that the writing process consists of draft, spellcheck, and turn in the final draft, I force them to slow down and write more.
I ask my students to write an argument essay focused on who or what is to blame for the deaths in Romeo and Juliet. Instead of a literary focus the students approach it through a science lens. The students research adolescent brain development and the biochemistry of love and decide if either of those is an excuse for the decision Romeo and Juliet make in the play. I love the assignment and in the end my students usually do, too.
What I don’t love is reading 74 rough drafts in 3-5 days. Oh my goodness. After working through drafting a thesis statement and prewriting (extensively) the students compose their first rough draft. I then read all of the essays and provide extensive feedback. I also assess the papers based on a rubric that doesn’t have any scores on it. Once the papers are returned (thank goodness for Google Classroom!) the students revise based on my feedback. Then they will submit a second draft which will be peer-edited. They will revise a second time based on that feedback. Then they will submit a final draft. It’s a long process but so worth it in the end. I firmly believe my students learn more from the process than they would just writing and submitting a paper. As 9th graders they have a lot to learn and this is the best way I’ve found to do that. Coupled with their daily NYTimes writing and their blogs they write constantly in my room.
But oh my goodness has it been a long few days. Every moment I’m not doing homework or walking the dogs or teaching I am reading rough drafts. I have about 25 left and I want to finish by Thursday morning. So I’m off to read 1-2 more before bed….