My Alyssa is in 5th grade this year. This is her wonderful little narrative essay that she wrote for her English class:
Three days after my sister's due date we were getting our monthly checkup. The doctor said, "The baby might be sick so we'll go ahead and put you in the hospital and start labor tonight." I jumped for joy. Waiting nine months for one baby is a long time.
At the hospital that evening I'd brought a few things. I wandered around the waiting room and looked at the babies in the nursery. I watched boring tv and had my first cup of coffee (which tasted horrible). It seemed like we waited forever. For a while I read.
Suddenly I was awoken by my grandmother poking me. She said, "Come see your new sister." I hopped out of the squashy chair and walked quickly to the door.
In the room I saw my mom, dad, aunt, and some more grandmas. Sitting down on the end of Mom's bed she handed me the smallest, cutest, pinkest, blue-eyed baby in the world. Aislin is her name; she just stared at me awe inspired. It's the best memory I have.
Now tell me that's not the cutest thing you've ever read (no bias here)! She got 100% on her essay and it's in her "great work" folder at school. Yes there are some grammar errors, dangling modifiers, etc. But she's in 5th grade.
Now let me share with you how my students, all of whom have graduated high school, put together a thesis sentence. This exercise was on a quiz. I gave them a bad thesis sentence and they had to revise it into something more specific and narrow. The sentence was, "I hate Tom Cruise." (I actually do, but no offense to his fans). So I was looking for something along the lines of "Tom Cruise is not one of my favorite actors because he "over-acts' and is not believable as a character." This is what "D" gave me (word for word):
I hate Tom Cruise because he is a woman organizer and thinks he's all that.
Most of them weren't much better than that. As I said, these are high-school educated students.
And they will be running the country when I'm old.