Today, while sharing some calibration papers with my students who are learning to become better writers, something clicked. Part of the lesson included the importance of knowing that their essays would be scored holistically outlining four basic areas: focus, organization, support, and conventions.
In order to illustrate some excellent writing styles, I read two essays to them out loud and then let them comment on what they liked about each and at least two areas in which they would do things differently now that they had read these essays. Well, they were taken with the precise word choices, as well as with the details, in other words they recognized the level of support. They also commented on the humor, enthusiasm, and imagery with its sensory details and depth. They were impressed. In fact, some of them applauded when I finished reading. What encouraged me the most is that most of them said they would do things differently. Definitely one big step in the right direction.
The essay prompt for the essays we were reading was a favorite place. A Level 6 essay student wrote about a place called Taco City. This student described the place as only being a couple of feet away from the beach and that it served the best Mexican food at reasonable prices. The student also said the place had a 30 year history surviving several hurricanes. I figured it was an authentic place and after a Google search, lo and behold the place actually exists.
To my surprise Taco City not only exists; it also a mere 25 miles away at Cocoa Beach, Florida. It is quite possible that I will take a short trip over there on the Beachline Expressway straight to Cocoa Beach. If you are planning to go to Cocoa Beach in the near future check it out. It comes with a very high recommendation.