Updated: Dec 16, 2019
What's going on everyone?
New to this Blog? You can follow along from the beginning by starting here.
Previous Week's Post: The post for Weeks 8-9 can be found here.
Want this Curriculum? You can find the full curriculum for this class here.
This Post Covers Days 22-28 of the Unit.
We are almost there! This will be the second to last post for the Walking Simulator unit. We finished playing What Remains of Edith Finch in the previous post. Before moving onto a final assessment, I wanted to give my students some practice grading a Part 3 English Regents Essay. It's always good to show students how they are being rated before asking them complete the assessment. That way they can become familiar with the rubric that will ultimately be used to assess their own essays. This is probably the section of the unit that I will most adapt/change going forward. I originally planned for each student to read and rate three different sample essays, but only ended up with enough time to barely finish one. This would not be an issue if time wasn't a constraint, but the semester is winding to a close and I couldn't get through everything I had planned.
Part 3 of the August 2018 Regents Examination in English Language Arts is an excerpt from the 2013 Duke University commencement address, given by Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. I had students read the excerpt in groups. From there they would read a response written by a student. It was their job to use the rubric provided by the state to rate this student's essay; 1 being the lowest and 4 being the highest. The four sections of the rubric are 1) Content and Analysis, 2) Command of Evidence, 3) Coherence, Organization, and Style, and 4) Control of Conventions. The example essay was rated a 4, but I didn't let students know that going in. You can see in the images above that the student rated each band of the rubric out of 4. Unfortunately because of time, this student was only able to provide numerical ratings without any written justifications. We did have time to share out loud why they gave these ratings, but it would have been nice to have them written down as well. The example above was pretty typical of the students across the classroom. This was more of an error on my end by miscalculating how long this lesson would take. This student gave 3s and 4s to the sample essay which is about right since it was rated as a 4 overall. One important take away that I wasn't expecting was that many students expressed difficulty in reading this student's handwriting. I reminded them that someone will need to be able to understand their handwriting as well and to write as legibly as possibly.
Let's take a look at some example essays my students wrote.
This student chose to wrote how the developers of What Remains of Edith Finch use conflict to discuss what causes the death of children throughout the game. Specifically this student is discussing "man vs. self," and "man vs. man." The student insinuates that the deaths all of the children throughout the game could have been prevented. They end with a connection to real life and how divorce can affect children. A divorce of two parents in the game inadvertently led to the death of a 13 year old boy. I would give this essay a 3 because while well organized, it does not perfectly connect the provided examples back to the central idea of a changing environment causing conflict among the family members.
This student decided to write about Gone Home. This student notes that the central idea of the game is acceptance. They did a good job of summarizing the game and how the developers challenged our preconceived notions of relationships. The student notes that, "people thought, or I thought it could be a boy from the military academy that she was enrolled to, but it was really a girl." From here the student goes on to explain the various forms of discrimination faced by LGBTQ+ people. One example provided was the military policy "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," where gay people were allowed to be in the military as long as they never mentioned being gay. The character Sam, as noted by this student, eventually leaves home in order to find acceptance since her parent were not open minded to her situation.
It is clear that this student understands the message of the game, but did not really discuss a writing strategy used by the writers of the game. Because of that, I would have to grade this paper as a 2, or maybe a 3 since it was coherent, provided examples, and the conventions in English were fine.
This student also decided to write about the central idea of acceptance in Gone Home. This student is different because they specifically mention that the developer decides to reveal this message through the use of a journal. They then take several examples of journal entries in the game that portray the character Sam struggling to accept herself. I particularly like the opening sentence, "Accept yourself can be difficult when society and time are pointing at you." They took the game and put in context to the time the story is set- the 1990s. I believe this essay is stronger than the previous one about Gone Home because of these aspects. Therefore, I would grade it as a 4.
Overall, I would say the final assessment went pretty well. I definitely think however, I will aim to provide more practice time reading samples essays in the future. Next week we will be reflections on the the Walking Simulator Unit from both my students and myself.
Thanks for reading,
Next week's post can be read here.