Class Topic : “Writings on Partition”
Class schedule : 75 minutes, Wednesdays and Saturdays, January – August 2019
Assignments : biweekly reading journal, weekly 2-page essay responses, 6-page final essay
As a 10th grader, Parth enjoyed history and historical fiction, and was eager to strengthen his analytical and argumentative essay skills.
He also had a deep personal interest in Partition, the 1947 division of India and Pakistan that displaced between 15 to 20 million people virtually overnight. Parth’s grandparents were Partition survivors, and he was eager to study it in depth — but his school curriculum gave it no attention at all.
Inspired by his passion for history and fiction, Parth and I designed a 26-week writing class focused on Partition. Our curriculum included fiction and nonfiction, including Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, Shobha Rao’s award-winning story collection, An Unrestored Woman, as well as historical texts and essays. Every week, Parth practiced analyzing the vivid characters in our readings and prepared for our discussion challenges (e.g. “Who is the most sympathetic character?” and “What would you have done differently?”). He learned to support his opinions with textual evidence in short weekly analytical essays.
For his final project, Parth wanted to write a “a real essay that people would actually read, not just 5 paragraphs.”
Yes! He was ready to write a college-level essay!
I gave Parth several open-ended prompts, and we worked on developing a dynamic, arguable thesis. After making his own grading rubric, he drafted and revised his essay until he felt it satisfied those high standards. His final 6-page essay, combining historical facts and analysis with anecdotes of his family’s experience, was moving and powerful. He was proud to share it with his grandparents — and got it published it in his school magazine.
Over 26 weeks, Parth worked hard to master an impressive set of skills necessary for college: annotating, writing descriptively and concisely, drafting an essay from scratch, and MLA citation.
“My feelings about essays have completely changed,” Parth told me, as we wrapped up our unit. “This essay was the most satisfying thing I’ve ever written, and I’m actually so excited now to do this in IB classes and in college!”