Class Topic : “Writing 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 at a large public high school, Parth was eager to strengthen his essay writing skills and feel prepared for AP classes.
Parth loved history and historical fiction, and 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 wanted 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 covered fiction and nonfiction, including Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children and Shobha Rao’s award-winning story collection, An Unrestored Woman. Every week, Parth practiced close reading and annotation 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 about Partition.”
Yes! He was ready to write a college-level essay!
I gave Parth several open-ended, college-level 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 his high standards — because this really mattered. 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 writing and essays have completely changed,” Parth told me as we wrapped up our unit. “This essay was the most satisfying thing I’ve ever written. I’m so excited for AP Research next year, and writing in college!”