Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Writing Sample

My students completed their end-of-the-year writing sample today. The prompt was a familiar one for me: Your school has some extra money. They could spend it on sports equipment, computers, the cafeteria, or something else. What do you think the money should be used for?

My philosophy has always been that if I teach my students to be good writers, they will be able to write good essays, but over the years, I've read a lot of essays about sports equipment, computers, and cafeteria food. I've also read many about game rooms, student lounges, and pools. The majority of them have been well-written, if a little dry. I guess there's something about the format that students find uninspiring.

Even so, I have also read lots of terrific pieces too. Probably the best one ever was a very convincing argument in favor of zombie-proofing our building; it had me in stitches, no pun intended. I've also read essays on why we need more Kleenex, a proposal to repaint our building brick-by-brick, and even a tongue-in-cheek proposition to replace all the teachers with robots.

Today, however, there were two writing pieces that can be nothing else than heartbreaking signs of the times. One student wrote about how we should invest all our money in enhancing the security of our building. His opening line? "We've all heard about the tragedy at Newtown," and his closing was, "In a peaceful world we wouldn't need these things, but now we do."

The other student wrote a fanciful essay all about constructing a huge shelter under the gym where all of us could go in case of any natural disaster or human threats. We would have bunk beds, walkie talkies, classrooms, and food to last us at least two years.

Maybe a student game room wouldn't be such a bad idea.


  1. Oh how the times have changed...

  2. Ugh. I agree with elle1955, times sure have changed. And I think "heartbreaking" was the perfect word choice.
    Those 2 students sure were honest and creative in their thinking, though.