I just graded my 9th graders' first "essay," - I stress essay in quotation marks because most structurally don't even resemble an essay - and they suck. Oh my do they stink of yuck.
Two things have occurred to me.
1. The prompt was poorly worded and that's why crap came in.
2. These students have never been taught how to write a simple essay.
My guess it's a combination of both, and for that reason, tomorrow I will give each student who made an attempt to write the essay credit. For those who just simply failed to turn one in - those lazybones will receive a delightful ZERO.
I'm in a bit of a quandary about their grades and am working up a scheme to sort of hit the reset button for them. Kind of like a second chance. I'm at fault in this too. Because I'm just sort of learning this managed curriculum, I don't necessarily understand all the thought behind what I'm being asked to do, which in turn can corrupt or weaken my explanation of certain ideas/assignments, case in point: this recent essay.
I think even just in writing this entry, I've made up my mind. I'm going in early tomorrow and am going to "weed" the gradebook.
Then I'll be giving them all good pep talk about what earning an A really means, and how being smart isn't something you're born with, but what you earn after a lot of hard work. Especially in this class.