It's midnight. Tonight I made a big pot of gumbo, wrote an English test, and planned the next two weeks of my composition class. We'll be working on the art of the cause and effect essay.
During the first semester, my comp students wrote "personal essays," almost exclusively. Every essay was in some way related to their lives, their rituals, their personalities. Now we're moving beyond "the self." We've spent the last two weeks talking about summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting other sources. I'll be assigning a research paper soon. The cause and effect essay will be a way of practicing the research paper.
For this essay, they'll need to read a couple of sources, do a bit of research, and quote and cite sources in the course of the essay. They'll be doing this on a regular basis for the rest of the year. Writing an essay is one thing; writing an essay that incorporates other sources is a whole 'nother ballgame, and I want my students to be well-practiced in doing this before they head off to college.
Tomorrow is the last day of the grading period. School may be cancelled ... looks like we have some snow coming our way.