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Anyone want to critique an essay?

Anyone want to critique an essay?

This is the best one my 10th grade son has written this year. Just looking for feedback to see if we are on the right track. Usually, I'm the only one reading them.

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When you are planning on going outside on a clear night and looking at the night sky, there are some things to consider with your eyes. With good planning you can avoid ruining your observation session.

Your eyes can vastly change the amount of light that is filtered through them by changing the diameter of the pupils. However, the eyes have an even greater system of adjusting to different levels of light. This second system takes longer, and is more permanent than the first. We call this second system dark adaptation.

One example of dark adaptation is to walk into a house when the lights are off. Outside is bright, and when you step into the house, there is a vast lighting change. For the first minute or two, you will not be able to see anything. Then, slowly, you will start to see the outline of shapes and things, gradually becoming clearer until you can see reasonably well in the dark. We have called this "getting used to the dark" in the past. This is dark adaptation.

The actual process of dark adaptation is an intentional design feature. The eye contains two different light sensing cells, rods and cones. The cones are much less sensitive to light and are used during the day. The rods are much more sensitive to light and are used in the dark. The rods contain a chemical called rhodopsin that is light sensitive. When light hits this chemical, it causes the chemical to be destroyed, which then sends signals to the brain. The chemical is constantly being renewed, but in high illumination, light will hit the rods faster than the chemical can be replaced, thus, in bright places the eye will become relatively insensitive. However, in the dark, much less light will strike the chemical, causing the rhodopsin to build up. Because rhodopsin is light sensitive, you will be able to see better in the dark.

Because it takes a long time to dark adapt, about 30 minutes, once you can see clearly, you will not want to spoil it. This means that before you begin, you should do everything that requires a flashlight. Also, bathroom breaks or other doings involving going into the house are not a good idea.

Believe it or not, eating carrots will help with the dark adaptation process. Carrots contain carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A will speed up dark adaptation. You can also take vitamin A supplements, but with carrots you will never get an overdose.

Another useful tip is that the rods in your eyes are almost blind to red light. So if you need to use a flashlight after all, use one with a red beam. The redder the beam, the better. LED lights are good because they emit a very pure colour.

So by understanding how the eye works, you can get the most out of your observation session.

re: Anyone want to critique an essay?

I'd be willing to offer critique. Not sure I want to post it here with the format limits of this forum. if you want to contact me me at mfwrocks at yahoo.com (use standard formatting on that of course)
I can back and forth on that with my opinion. I tend to critique mostly with "macro" issues (content and flow) before "micro" issues of comma, paragraph, etc.


Because you are his teacher, would you be willing to share your opinion of his work on this essay? Was this first draft or final product? What did you notice that was "good" about it for his skill level? What things do you want to help him with? Writing is a process of course and knowing what you're working on will be helpful for critique and improvement.


To give you an idea of things you'd expect from my critique, if you email me:
Generally speaking, this is the first time I've read his work so I'm reading it and the first thing that jumps out is how jumbled and unconnected his points are. I don't know if the main purpose of the essay is to tell me how to have a quality observation session of the night sky, or to explain to me more about the eye from a physical perspective. I get the idea that he is connecting the two topics. But the flow of the essay doesn't bring me there smoothly. From the intro sentences, I'm expecting to have Steps to Help Me Plan a Non Ruined Observation Session. Instead, I'm getting biology information on eye structure and function. By the end of essay, I still don't know if I need to eat carrots 30 minutes before going out.

It's not a bad piece of writing for high school, but there are some structure points that could help it.

His concluding sentence seems like it would be a better "topic" or "theme sentence" placed in the first paragraph (if one omits the "so".
also, intro paragraph needs more input before that suggestion would be finalized. :)

Micro: sentence structures are fine. I see a variety of kinds of sentences (simple, complex, compound.) Does he have a "favorite" sentence in there? What about a sentence that he wrote that he thought was "well, good enough and moving on"

This post was edited on Oct 14, 2017 07:54 AM

re: Anyone want to critique an essay?

ps:

I wanted to suggest a link to an archived course online out there.

It's from Mt. San Jacinto College Collection and called
Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade

currently available on this link (but you may have to click to get directly to it)
http://www.hippocampus.org/HippoCampus/English

go to the section
composing and writing
paragraphs

also, you might want to look over the pdf book with that course for the same section. (They are the people I got the terms macro and micro revisions)

http://mitesupport.s3-website-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/nroc_community/Crafting_an_Effective_Writer_Course_Reader.pdf

Another resource (more homeschool market) would be IEW's The Elegant Essay. It has specifics to use for making introduction paragraphs and structure. Just like a piano player needs to do scales before learning to do improv pieces, a writer benefits from structure in essays.

re: Anyone want to critique an essay?

In general, this link can be helpful for learning about introductory paragraphs

http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/intros.htm

I think your son's intro paragraph could benefit from having a quick anecdote or surprising statement (such as the one with don't let your session get ruined).

This isn't easy to back and forth on forums. :)

re: Anyone want to critique an essay?

Thanks for the detailed feedback, cbollin. Some of my current thoughts:

Could you clarify what you mean by jumbled and disconnected? Do you mean that the idea in each paragraph doesn't have anything to do with the next one? Or do you mean there is a lack of transition words between the paragraphs?

I can see that his thesis, or topic sentence, isn't quite right because it doesn't include anything about how the eye works. But aside from that, I did sort of think the flow was ok, because the first 3 paragraphs after the intro give background info on the dark adaptation before getting to the part about things you can do to not ruin observation session. I don't know, I could be way off, but it made sense to me. Would it make more sense if he changed his thesis to include something about the background eye info, kind of like the concluding sentence does? (I think maybe you mentioned that.)

Thank you for the helpful suggestions.

re: Anyone want to critique an essay?

Lack of transition words between paragraphs is a structural help for those learning essays. But is a minor point that comes near the end of edits.

But I was talking about something else. To me it is jumbled because as his audience, I have no idea what he is trying to get me to do or help me to learn. It feels like puzzle pieces are all there, but it's my job to put it together. However, it's supposed to be the other way around and the writer puts it together for me.
Is it an information article?
He spends a lot of time trying to explain cones, rods and chemicals.
Or how to plan a good viewing session. ?

I agree with you that he has some structure to it with
1. try to explain the science
2. then give ideas how to plan.
Yes, he does have a flow to the essay. First point is to take advantage of dark adaption. Then, something about eating carrots. then a third point about using right flashlight. He does make 3 points. Wait for adaption. eat your carrot. take led light.

I apologize if my wording made you think it was a horrible set up. I didn't intend for that. I mean more that the introduction leaves me expecting the very next thing to talk about is how to plan. I'm not expecting a lecture on rods and cones. In fact, I hate to say this out loud, but that part was distracting to the essentials of planning.

It is jumbled because he set up the intro to be about ways to plan, but the vast majority of the essay sounds like he is answering a question in biology about cones and rods. And the ideas how to plan could be done in a more organized way.
(Now that you know about the design of how the eye functions, you can plan a better star viewing time by getting vitamin A before viewing, make sure you don't need to return to lit house before the session is up and only bring a red LED flashlight. )


This is disconnected to me:
There's an assertion that "This second system takes longer, and is more permanent than the first."
This is a disconnection to me because the word permanent is too strong and over states it. If it were "permanent" then having a flashlight or going to the bathroom in a lit house would not be a problem. If it is permanent then it can't be "spoiled" as he asserts later.

Now, all that means is permanent was not the best fit word to use. :) This is really hard to do over the internet. I could have said that in about 10 seconds.


The part with the carrot? He really left me hanging there. Does our body get the vitamin A that quickly that I should eat a carrot 30 minutes before going outside????)

For me? I think he was writing more to Explain Information about cones and rods instead of what I expected from the intro with "planning".



Now with all of that said? I do think you are very much on the right track with his writing. His sentences are fine and all of that. Much of how he writes reminds me of my oldest. She ended up being prepared enough for college to do well in English. Her ACT essay score was low average and is comparable to what your son has here in grade 10.

re: Anyone want to critique an essay?

Now with all of that said? I do think you are very much on the right track with his writing. His sentences are fine and all of that. Much of how he writes reminds me of my oldest. She ended up being prepared enough for college to do well in English. Her ACT essay score was low average and is comparable to what your son has here in grade 10.
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adding: I like that his sentences and wording is audience appropriate. So that's good. I know my oldest struggled thinking she had to sound "smart" when writing by using fancy vocab.

There's a lot to "feel good" about the process and being on the right track.

You asked about possible thesis... I'm thinking of options. Hopefully the good writing teachers will reply so you get more than my opinion on it.

re: Anyone want to critique an essay?

I still think it's a good piece. Even if I go heavy in this post, you don't have to work on everything at once.

If this were my child, I'd have her rewrite a small part of the carrot section.
from this:Carrots contain carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A will speed up dark adaptation. You can also take vitamin A supplements, but with carrots you will never get an overdose.


to: Carrots contain carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A which can speed up dark adaptation.

I would leave out the never can overdose on carrots. uh.. apparently that might not be accurate. With the whole fat soluble thing with vitamin A, it will be stored and might have some skin color orange.

Without more information on WHEN and how much to eat carrots, I might tell my kid to leave that out entirely. Better to make 2 good points and leave it instead of trying to find a third one.

did you know that Anthocyanins (such as found in some berries) can also help with accelerating dark adaptation? I didn't either until this afternoon while double checking on the carrot overdose thing. cool. see? he's on the right track with his writing. lots of good stuff to say.


some of that critique may be more nit picky on content than your child wants to hear. remember, you don't have to work on everything on every essay.


**note: on second thought, I might use the snack info and have the carrot sentence with the believe it or not become the opening hook in the intro. more to follow.

This post was edited on Oct 14, 2017 02:28 PM

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