We haven’t yet had a week of class and already I’ve had a weekend knocked out to grading: my 101 students wrote in-class essays on Friday, and I just finished grading them.
On the plus side, these initial assignments are very useful for honing in on where the classes stand: where they need help, where they’re really strong, that sort of thing. It makes the rest of the semester go more smoothly and usefully for us all. The results this time were fairly predictable as far as their status as writers, but I was surprised (as I always am) by their content. As is usually the case, I simply asked them to tell me a story. Real, imagined, exaggerated, positive, negative, I didn’t care. Just give me a story, I said.
As expected, the vast majority of their stories were autobiographical, telling me about an important event in their lives, and I can tell you that they’ve had interesting lives, these young kids!