Stuff Students Say

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 30 2011

“Maybe you never heard of it…”

I spent a good portion of today catching up on grading and FINALLY putting everything into an online gradebook, Engrade, which so far I’m very happy with.  When grades are due in 2 weeks I should easily be able to avoid a repeat of frantically grading all day and then still missing the deadline.

Since I always put off grading essays (so time consuming!), I now have a ton of excerpts to share:


Expository Essays:  Write a thesis statement and then explain your opinion on the topic of year-round school or school uniforms.

“For example, International school has blue navy baggy pants and ugly t-shirts or mini-dresses…My friend Yasmin has to wear uniforms she hates it! It does not have swagg!”

“I think there shouldn’t be a school uniform because if the uniform got dirty, what are you going to do? You have no uniform to wear.  I think that the possible answer is you have to wash it every day. It is awful. I mean you don’t want to wash the uniforms instead of doing your homework.”

“I also think that teachers need breaks too. I wonder how they feel when school’s over, I think relieved. Teachers work very hard to teach us everything on the MCA’s they will be so down if we fail. Oh ya teachers don’t have breaks they have to teach summer school, HaHa!”  (I really liked where she was going with that point, until the last sentence…)

“When students don’t get rest their heads will hurt because of too much thinking.”

“Somalians don’t like wearing school uniforms because they say it looks ugly and has no swagg. Americans sometimes wear it. Because they like it and they love to wear it…But my dad said it is not about clothes, it’s about my education.”

“People don’t want to wear the same clothes again and the teachers will complain and spray too much air freshener and there’s going to be a problem.”  (Hmm, good point.)


Our class discussions must be sinking in, at least a little bit, because it seems like we’re making progress on the cultural tolerance front. My main evidence is that although my students whined and complained about reading their pen pal letters that mentioned Christmas, they did a great job of writing back respectfully and thoughtfully:

“No I don’t celebrate Christmas. But I do celebrate Eid. For Eid I get money from people.”

“I hope your good in class. Are you nice boys? If your bad Santa won’t bring you boys anything. Have a great year bye!! P.S. I have an XBox 360 at my house, nice, right.”

“You are happy that Christmas is coming, but I don’t celebrate because we have a different religion. Eid is something that all Muslims in the world celebrate. It is something that you didn’t hear before.”

“My last thing I wanna tell you is I love the pictures with the letters it’s so cute. In my religion when you adore someone’s picture or anyone that you meet you have to say this word “Mashallah.” Anyways I have two questions for you guys oops I mean girls: would you prefer tennis shoes or boots?”

“I am happy to hear that you are going to a party. I love to go to a party, but I don’t like to go to a party in the summer not in the winter. It is awkward.”

“I celebrate another type of holiday. Maybe you never heard of it.”

One Response

  1. Moseis

    You should not grade for everything. For example: grade for intro only, grade for conclusion only, grade for figurative language only. Since your kids should be working on several pieces at one time, their multiple revisions will allow them to implement all of the revision strategies you teach. Plus, you should assign more writing than you can ever possibly grade. As per Peter Elbow, you will have lots of bad writing before you start to get the good stuff. Also, try pointing and say back, which will also save you time with pointless grading. Instead of you spending countless hours grading, the kids will be reading their pieces to each other….. It’s really not about the grade; its about the learning.

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I used to be a journalist. Now I just quote students.

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