Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Life At Table 73

Johnny And His Gun Fest continues here in Louisville. We all sit in tables of five with a "leader." Sometimes the leader tells us that we suck and sometimes the leader gives us candy and sometimes we hurl candy at the leader. Today my leader told me that I have been scoring too generously. Allow me to reprint that for the benefit of certain former students.


The candy is very important. At first we had a few paltry M&Ms in a styrofoam bowl, but the more we got to know Johnny and his gun, the more sugar we started piling next to one another. This is the candy we've amassed so far at Table 73:

mini Reese's peanut butter cups
gummy orange slices
fake Peppermint Patties
caramel Kisses
peanut butter Kisses
Swedish fish
Werther's Original Coffee Caramels

Nothing helps.

Sometimes we have calibration sessions in which the entire room scores the same essay just to make sure we aren't all sucking simultaneously. Names and schools are removed to protect the horrible; the essays are all given to us in a packet, designated by letter, and we are all very careful to discuss the work in terms of "the student" and "the essayist," even though I personally would take the microphone and announce, "Let us all turn to the piece of $%&@ that is Essay H."

Overall, I've been pleasantly surprised by the quality of most of the students' essays, but others, alas, make me want to stab myself in the carotid artery with the point of a Kiss, be it caramel or peanut butter. Actual quotes:

"The writing is flowy, yet awkward."

"I will now discuss very important literature. In the novel Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone..."

"In this sentence, the author uses words."

"Each year, as they go camping, the father and son hunt aquatic beings together."

"In this poem..." (Which would not be funny at all, were the student not discussing a novel excerpt.)

"Emily Bronte's Withering Heights..."

"Thank you for reading my essay."

you're welcome at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com


Jcat said...

Calibration sessions. Oh, how I still cringe at those words. The ones where I worked always turned into a 20 mintue debate between 2-3 people on why the rate they would give is the 'correct' one even when the Rater Overlord states that this particular essay is 'on the line' and either would be acceptable. My favorites were always the ones who said, "I agree on rate X, but not because of what that guy said, but because ..." Thank you, for wasting our time by pumping your ego, you're killing my scoring efficency rate.

red pill junkie said...

"Each year, as they go camping, the father and son hunt aquatic beings together."

What kind of aquatic BEINGS? Mermaids? Nessie? The Kraken??? ;-)

Tamara said...

haha you have made my day. So funny!
I just took the AP English Lit test and I'm thinking that was possibly my best essay.
I love to hear all the crazy quotes from others' essays.

Jenib said...

LOL. Bless you (It was better than saying, "Sucks to be you!" at what you are spending your days doing). My reason for dropping by was to comment on your Mother's Day offering at MSNBC for mother/daughter movies (Yes, I realize this is pretty late). I laughed. I cried. It was great. Thank you.

Kristen said...

Thank God the state of South Carolina pays for its students to take the AP exams, because I'd hate for so many parents here to waste their money for their kids to write essays like that (and I guarantee, quite a few much much worse than those).

D. said...

Flowy, yet awkward? Inspiration for bridesmaids' dresses, perhaps?

Starnarcosis said...

I'm not surprised about the student who thinks Harry Potter is very important literature. One of my daughter's high school English teachers thought watching the Rankin/Bass version of The Hobbit was an acceptable substitute for reading the book. Another, when asked what writers she admired, replied "I think Danielle Steele is just terrific, don't you?"

Anonymous said...

But instead, Kristin, my dear, YOU are paying for the students to produce essays like this. Your tax dollars at work.

Most of them are really pretty good, though. Take heart :)

amy lou the reader said...

"I will now discuss very important literature. In the novel Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone..."

I'm litterally CRYING at my desk, I'm laughing so hard.

That was hilarious. I love Harry Potter, but to classify it as "important literature" is...inaccurate at best.

patty m. said...

These would be funner if I didn't teach 7th grade English and find myself staring in disbelief at lines like the following:
"I hope you enjoyed my paper."
"This is the end of my paper."
And, yes indeed, "Thank you for reading my paper."

This, after spending hours of class time modeling proper closing techniques, bleeding red ink over rough drafts that include these lines, and finally, desperately, in the class periods before final papers are due, dropping to my knees and BEGGING the students to avoid addressing the reader or referring to the paper itself in their writing.

I feel your pain, MB.

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