Evaluation level essays do NOT actually need your teen’s personal opinion.Yep.
Even if it says ‘In your opinion…’
For most students, this is GREAT news!
Because it means they don’t need to be an expert in whatever the genre or topic it.
They don’t need to be a literature enthusiast.
And they don’t need to have some sort of sophisticated and unique insight into anything.
I just wish I’d realised this as a student.
I only figured it out 7 years into my teaching when I was marking Y12 Writing Tests and figuring out the mark scheme as a non-English teacher.
In Week 3 of Essays Bootcamp (available as part of Next Level Coaching), I told students exactly what they need to do instead.
And, all importantly… HOW to do it.
Excerpt from Essays Bootcamp in Next Level Coaching: Gemma explains exactly what examiners are looking for when awarding the top criteria for ‘discerning’ evidence. Including: – The proven Checklist of ‘decision-makers’. – A specific example of where students can go wrong with this – What your teen needs to look for so they don’t fall… (read more)
It’s easy to say: “I’ll include a metaphor here.”
“I’ll give some context in the intro.”
What takes more thought and effort is to say from the outset:
– precisely WHAT metaphor and why.
– exactly what IS the context and which elements are most significant for this task.
Sometimes students feel like they’ve planned, but really, they’ve outlined.
Having an expert (like Gemma, our English-Focus Coach!) there to help with these sorts of small but mighty details is what can take us to the next level in our work.
Because although deciding on these details in advance can be challenging, NOT doing so will lead to multiple challenges in the writing stage.
Brainstorming and then selecting them all at the beginning will not only highlight any gaps in knowledge (which are much better solved before the writing begins, rather than half way through, when the temptation then is to gloss over that fact and waffle our way through),
it will also allow much more discerning choices and selections.
And together these mean the task gets completed much more smoothly and quickly AND achieves more of the top level criteria and therefore a higher result.
What makes ‘use of evidence or quotations’ in an essay, exam or assignment ‘discerning’ rather than ‘appropriate’ in the mark scheme?
What takes an extended response to ‘pertinent’, or ‘perceptive‘, in the success criteria?
There are multiple elements and Gemma, our English-Focus Coach went through ALL of them with our Next Level students this week.
One of the mistakes students are making is incorporating quotes that are too long.
The quote can be appropriate.
It’s perhaps even been analysed well.
But it’s not considered perceptive or discerning because the EXACT words in the quote that are pertinent to the focus of the question have not been identified.
Here are some excerpts of that session where Gemma explains how and why MICRO-QUOTES should be used instead of full sentences.
I hate to admit it, but being ‘forced’ to read huge novels as a teenager put me off reading for a LONG time.*
I didn’t actually mind Shakespeare,**
but that was because I approached the analysis more like a dissection and translation exercise than an appreciation of literature.
(I liked structure and box-ticking even then!)
That’s why I loved Gemma’s (our English Focus Coach in Next Level Coaching) clear and easy system for knowing when to make paragraph breaks in any piece of writing.
I see LOTS of students struggle with paragraphing in their writing;
either because they’re under exam time pressure and forget them,
or because they’re not quite sure when or how they should insert them.
The TIP-TOP system works for any type of English task or exam response and in fact, for ANY subject at any level.
* I didn’t read a book for ‘fun’ again until I was about 24 years old and it was like re-discovering the joys of going for a walk.
[Fun when you’re a little kid (yay – an adventure!),
annoying and boring as a teenager (um, what for?),
joyful as an adult (let’s meet up – we’ll do a good walk and catch up).]
I think you officially know you’re an adult when you decide to ‘go for a walk’ or ‘admire the view’ without being forced to by your parents.
** We did Julius Caesar and Merchant of Venice, and I still remember the bit about revenge and the pound of flesh, and the “et tu Brute” bombshell.
(Can’t remember a thing about Oliver, and just ‘something about witches’ for The Crucible. Embarrassing to admit, but true.)
Some stress is good.
In fact, it’s helpful.
It keeps us focused, energised and alert.
I’m often telling students this.
Because the word ‘stress’ (understandably) has a heap of negative connotations.
And a lot of my training is indeed centred around reducing students’ stress.
But there are times (like having to write an essay in exam conditions!) that it’s natural to feel some stress.
The key is understanding when everything is going to plan and we’re just under pressure (time pressure of the exam and the pressure to perform well – the latter of which is even greater when it’s a seen essay Q that you’ve prepped for!)
Stress because we don’t know what we’re doing.