Five Signs Academic Writing is Stressing You Out

Academic Writing and Mindset: 5 Signs of Academic Writing Stress

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I found this gem during a one-on-one tutoring session. I flipped the paper casually over and found this desperate declaration written on the back. The student was mortified. I died laughing. This is one of the reasons why I made this blog. I want students to embrace how they feel about something-even if it is boring or challenging-and take that mindset and make it great.

Here are five tell-tale signs that Academic Writing (aka expository, information, anything assigned with a given topic, etc) is stressing you out:

Sign #1: You aren't looking at samples. You have no idea what to do.

Sign #2: You have lost yourself. You are so caught up in the format you can't be creative. You don't sound like you!

Sign #3: You aren't planning out your writing. You are winging it. 

Sign #4: You have no idea how you are being graded or assessed. 

Sign #5: You have stopped learning new ideas and strategies to tackle the same problems. There is always more than one way to do something. Have you tried a different approach?

Solution to Sign #1: You aren't looking at samples. You have no idea what to do.

SAMPLE ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAYS AT THE MIDDLE SCHOOL LEVEL

Looking at quality samples can help you figure out a destination. Sometimes writing an entire essay (especially if you leave it until the last minute) can be a daunting task. Ask for some quality examples or look up some great examples of the type of writing you are expected to do. Teachers often look for different things by nature, and knowing where the end result is going, is the key to getting their successfully!

 Solution to Sign #2: You have lost yourself. You are so caught up in the format you can't be creative. You don't sound like you!

ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY SPECIFIC EXAMPLES:

The details can trip you up easily! Sometimes, I will find that when students don't know HOW to do something, they default into robot-mode writing.

Robot-Mode Writing: When students take a guess as to what they SHOULD sound like, and end up sounding chopping, displaced, and making no senses...at all. 

The easiest places to get caught up in this are when citing evidence, transitions, and topic sentences. It is easy to get repetitive in these sections and lose sight of YOU. Don't get lost in these areas. Try this: write out the robot sounding guess draft and then try to go back and insert your own creativity, word choice, and diction. This should still have your style!

Check out some great examples of students who held their own:

Example of a good transition in a 7th grade argumentative essay.
Example of a good transition in a 7th grade argumentative essay.
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Sign #3: You aren't planning out your writing. You are winging it.

Not planning out your writing is like not planning out a trip or vacation before you take it. Even though that sounds fun in theory, it is not going to work out if you want to be efficient and mindful of destination (aka academic writing). My favorite way to plan out my academic writing is with the use of thinking maps.I love that thinking maps uses the 8 different ways that our brain organizes information to help us think out ideas.  Here are some great examples:

THINKING MAP EXAMPLES:

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Sign #4: You have no idea how you are being graded or assessed.

All teachers grade differently. However, you will find most teachers use a rubric to help with consistency and easy of the stacks of their work. It is important to know what each rubric category means and to ask ahead of time for those quality examples (see above). The Smarter Balanced Rubric is associated with the MSTEP test and is used most often in my building to assess academic writing. Check out the examples below of how students took a very complicated rubric and made it into a simpler, easier to read version.

SMARTER BALANCED RUBRIC STUDENT INTERPRETATION:

elarubricargumentativegrade6-11 (This is the gross old version)

Student interpretations:

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Sign #5: You have stopped learning new ideas and strategies to tackle the same problems. There is always more than one way to do something. Have you tried a different approach?

Never stop learning! Students can have professional development, too! I like to look for new ways to do something that is hard. An example would be how to insert evidence into a paragraph. Using sentence stems can help me visualize how to put my evidence into a paragraph in a new way! Here are some notes from some trainings:

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT NOTES:

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