Dave, what would you tell this writing student?

I just read this paragraph in an essay from one of the smartest, hardest-working students I have. I understand his meaning perfectly.

There some people who think money makes you upper class. If boy from the South Bronx projects, who makes five million dollars from records sales as a rapper, upper class even if he did not finish high school ,and reads at a 8th grade level. He will fix in with the high rollers of the rap entertains, but not would find it very difficult to socialize with the Kennedy’s or Rockefellers. Who are people of old money, educators, and very high society, however if you put Dr. Bill Cosby in the same room with the Kennedy’s and Rockefellers he would excel on all levels.


  1. Interesting. I think it depends on grade level. As a college professor, I would ask this student if he proofread his piece. If it was an 8th grader, I’d be floored and then I’d go back and ask him to read it aloud. His meaning is there, so we’d still need to work, but I’d basically skip a step and move on to cleaning up the piece.

  2. Does this student usually write that way? Or, given the subject matter, is the student simply being ironic?

  3. What surprises me is that’s common in freshman comp. What that tells me is there is little improvement from 8th grade to frosh comp, mostly because–while I said I’d be floored–there are times where I get moments like this… probably with a little more limited vocabulary…

    It makes me feel pretty good about the way I teach actually. I see improvement over the year in my students’ writing.

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