A note regarding student essays for IB submission

Students –

Before we get too far involved in our next unit, I want to take a moment to appreciate two things about the student essays that were submitted.  Many of you invested time and effort into your essays and the vast majority of you work hard to help your peers to revise their essays.

The first thing I should do is start with an apology – many of you worked hard to make revisions on your work and there was very little way for me to acknowledge that reality as I scored your papers.  As I was using turnitin’s ap for the first time to read, evaluate, and score your essays, there were some positives (like I could read and score them more quickly than on paper), but also some disappointing things I realized.  Turnitin’s ap doesn’t have a way for me to select any positive comments.  The only options are ‘vague’, ‘wordy’, ‘word choice’, ‘support’ and the like.  As far as I can tell (and I’m still a novice), there are no positive comments in their menu, so there was no way for me to give you positive feedback in an efficient manner.  It was the case that many of you had strong papers – even if the IB rubric limited your scores for one thing or another.  I’d really like the opportunity to talk with you about your paper if you have the time/desire to chat about your writing.  Find a time to meet with me before/lunch/after school and we can go through it.  I believe that many of you have great potential as writers and I’d appreciate the opportunity to show you how to take your writing to the next level. 

The second thing is that I am disappointed in a few of you.  Far more than a handful of students made very little effort to improve their essays.  Despite the reality that I saw MANY quality peer editing comments, far too often student authors ignored the suggestions altogether.  Here’s what I saw when I looked carefully at the drafts:

  • several student authors ignored comments from editors that did an excellent job reading papers.
  • several students changed less than twenty words from their ‘first’ draft to their submitted draft.
  • several authors wrote ‘second draft’ or ‘third draft’ on a draft that was essentially unchanged from the previous draft.
  • several authors had two or more edits on the same draft (that is good), but failed to have editing on other drafts.  In effect, this left them with editing on only one draft instead of three.

Perhaps these few students ignored my previously published comments on the February 10th blog post which clearly stated:

your work will be evaluated based on the effort and changes you make …  All students (even those who have previously submitted the essay for evaluation in the fall) should be making substantial changes…  Please don’t think that sticking with the same (difficult) prompt exempts you from needing revisions to your initial draft.  Your grade will be determined with these two things in mind:

  • the quality of peer editing you seek out
  • and the quality of the changes you have made based on that feedback.

I am mostly done with the process grades for the essay drafts.  I will upload them when I have the oppoutunity this weekend.


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