These students are ardently writing about Animal Farm, a political satire written as a cautionary tale against the evils of totalitarianism. For a writing teacher, this is a beautiful sight: sixteen energetic students writing and typing with confidence, using transitions, making connections between the text and the outside world, and working heartily right up to the bell. They have opinions and they aren’t afraid to share them.
They came to class with their books all marked up and tabbed. They brought in stacks of paper and laptops. They had outlines and graphic organizers ready to attack the topic. When we started the essay, they jumped right to it with a few questions, but plenty of confidence. You could hear pencils and pens scratching and keyboards clicking. It was a joyous sound.
To prepare for this day, we read the novel, held a Socratic-style debate about the nature of leaders, tracked the characters and their role in the allegory, and closely read for propaganda and irony. They marked their books as they found catchy slogans, repetitive messages and spin.
Once we finished the book, I gave the students their topic for the in-class writing assignment. They had a week to organize their thoughts into a graphic organizer, gather evidence and ponder more on the topic. Because they had been marking their books all along, they were armed with all kinds of evidence to support their opinions. They were ready and I could tell.
When they finished, they turned in some weighty essays, nice and thick, double spaced. No one seemed to be at a loss for written words, another bonus!
What a wonderful writing teacher kind of day!
Now I have 16 hefty essays to grade! I’ll need to inspect these to see if they are as good as they look… to see if the proof is in the pudding. Better get right to bed. I’ll need some rest to tackle these.