/  By  / 

Essay of the Week: The heart of AP English

 The heart of my AP English class is the Essay of the Week. Each week, a lot of important work goes on.

Here’s how it works:

  • Monday = Drafting Day. Students write an AP practice essay in class and then type it on Google Docs before 11 p.m.
  • Tuesday = Review Day. Students get their essay read by three people: me, their personal online writing mentor, and their peer reviewer. Everybody leaves comments and suggestions for improvement.
  • Wednesday = Revision Day. In class, I do a Writing Workshop based on patterns I notice in the essays. Students revise their essay by applying what they’ve learned and by looking at their reviewers’ comments. In addition, eight students meet one on one with grammar coaches.
  • Thursday = Publication Day. Students print out their essay, turn it in, and cheer for their hard work. I go home and maniacally grade the essays and write brief comments.
  • Friday = Celebration Day. In class, I give back the essays and note trends. After a drumroll, I unveil the recipient of the Essay of the Week, which has become a coveted prize.
  • Weekend = Reflection. Students read the Essay of the Week, published on our class website, and write a comment. They also look at their “My Writing Growth” document, attached to their essay, where students and their reviewers chart their reflections.

It’s pretty amazing it all happens. After all, the process involves 51 people: 23 students, 23 online writing mentors, four grammar coaches, and me.

Perhaps even more remarkable is that the whole cycle takes just one week, Monday to Friday. The Thursday turn-in is crucial. So is getting the essays graded overnight. That way, Fridays are saved for celebration, I don’t have to grade over the weekend, and students can start fresh the next Monday.

It’s a huge effort, but it’s worth it. Students say it’s the most worthwhile part of the class so far. They work hard, they’re pushed, and they feel proud

Next steps: How can I bring the elegance of Essay of the Week to my teaching of the novels? How can I encourage students to value reading as much as writing? 

One comment

Please share your brilliant insights!