I was nervous about letting my students flail around to find their way on our argumentative writing practice. After providing formulas and exemplars all year, I took away the lifeboats of a formula and exemplar for this assignment. Their uncertainty and stress broke my heart a little.
Three weeks later, we’ve finished.
It took a lot of patience on my part, and a lot of perseverance on theirs.
We spent the entire first week thinking and drafting, and then the next week, ran our pieces through workshop.
After our first revision, we ran through another workshop that was focused around the rubric.
During our assessment workshop, we used crayons to identify the background information, the arguments and counterarguments, and then the proposed solutions. After that, we wrote our (color-coded) feedback for our authors.
We revised again.
Our final products were near-perfect, but what’s better:
The freedom from a formula and exemplar encouraged my students to be creative in their (normally boring) argumentative writing work.
While most wrote essays and letters, some wrote raps, memoirs, and one student even wrote a one-act play. Another wrote a novella.
That kind of creativity wouldn’t have happened with a formula and exemplar.
That’s worth three weeks.