Posted in Experiences, Hari Katha, Learnings, Research, Writing

Annual exam

Hari will have his first standardized test for the year tomorrow. The learning and practice for the test has happened over the academic year at school. Additional preparation at home is neither required nor expected. I have not spent a minute coaching the child at home.

Tomorrow’s assessment will be long composition. A writing prompt will be given based on which children will have to write a two-page essay. Most of the school day will be spent in writing a first draft and editing it before it can be finalized. The essay will be graded based on idea development, organization and use of rich language.

This was last year’s writing prompt.

You are finally old enough to baby-sit, and your first job is this afternoon! You will be spending the entire afternoon with a one-year-old. When you open the door you realize that instead of watching a one-year-old child, you will be watching a one-year-old elephant!Write a story about spending your afternoon with a baby elephant. Give enough details to show readers what your afternoon is like baby-sitting the elephant. 

And here’s description of the essay that got the perfect score. I am not reproducing the essay here, but check out the comments to give a sense for what’s expected – pretty sophisticated writing, I would say!

This richly developed and carefully organized composition begins with the engaging introduction, “‘WOO-HOO!’ I’m finally old enough to baby-sit!” and immediately draws the reader into an unfolding adventure. The plot continues to develop as it is discovered that the object of this babysitting adventure is an elephant from a family zoo. Effective description of the elephant follows with phrases such as “with ears too big for her head” and “all I could see at the moment was a gray lump wriggling around and trumpeting loudly.” The voice of the writer is apparent as the audience experiences the feeding of this “cutie-pie.” Subtly, the writer strategically places her salad recipe on the counter, leaving it to play a later part in the conclusion. After lunch, the story continues to the backyard kiddie pool where splashing and bathing prove exhausting. The writer uses effective word choice to show that the job is not that easy: “She cried and twisted, yelped and pulled. I put up a fight sometimes, but this was one tough elephant!” It is evident that the relationship between the two deepens in the writer’s thoughts: “she snuggled up to my hand,” “wow, she is adorable,” and “I pulled up her blankets and patted her head.” There is an effective interaction of dialogue between the sitter and the family when they arrive home, as everyone is shushing everyone else in an effort to keep the “baby” sleeping. The writer is praised and invited to babysit the next Saturday. Suddenly, the salad recipe left on the counter is of great interest to the mother. She would like to use it to make a salad to feed “the other herbivores at the zoo.” She also notes, “[G]et rid of the hay[,] add some chicken and almonds and you’ve got a salad for the rest[a]urant!” The writer’s conclusion finishes with the clever comment, “Well, as for the other animal I’m sitting for on Saturday, I’m praying it’s not a tiger. A monkey would be nice though.”

I have always felt like I can get better at writing by following tips taught at Hari’s school. They are taught to have a strong beginning, a powerful ending, to appeal to all the senses , to use vivid words, and what not. I love love how writing is taught in schools here…!!!

Wish Hari all the very best for tomorrow.

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