Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I have shared examples of what I consider to be thoughtful and articulate student writing. In the spirit of fairness, I now offer some less stellar examples of what our (otherwise brilliant) students (occasionally) write.

Someone didn't study for the vocab quiz:
What a debris I saw!
Don't decisive your money.
Please dehydrate my shirts.
Do you have the skill of deliberately?
What a den guy!

I appreciate the humorous sentences on quizzes in part because they're easy to grade: Wrong. X. No. Nice try. O.

Then there are the essays. In addition to marking spelling and grammar mistakes, I also try to help students rephrase awkward sentences. But some sentences are so frustrating and downright confusing that I want to bang my head on the table. If I find a sentence impossible to decode, I'm left with the following arsenal of (slightly more) polite reinterpretations of "ACK!" and "HUH?" and "What the hell is this supposed to mean?!": Rewrite. ?. Unclear. Fix. What do you mean? I don't understand? Vague.

The most recent offender:
People are getting more selfish when they become more personal than before. Only concern is about them and their families. To adjust to the society, people usually use nomination to succeed in their lives. That explains how people think their siblings important. Birth order is magnitudinous factor of deciding who they are. By birth order, people have different responsibilities and roles, however, it does not only relate on it. Cultural factors and environmental factors influence people to build up their identities, and egos.

Magnitudinous? Yikes.

This was the final paragraph from that same essay:
Lots of Doppelgaengers are found out so different from one another when they finally know that they were born in one body, same parents, and same biological characteristics. They get shocked that there are another people who have different identities they have. If only birth order influences people, there will be no happenings like doppelgaengers.

I just crossed out that whole paragraph. Sometimes it's better to start over.

In class (advanced writing no less), the same writer tried to explain what was important for a successful friendship: "The affordable mind is important for a friendship." Huh. And what is the affordable mind? "The affordable mind is when a person realizes the mental condition of another." Huh. And what does that mean? She finally explains that it's important for friends to be able to understand each other. Much better.


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