Essay of the Week is built around the idea that for students to write better, deeper, and more lively essays, they need to have regular exposure to the essay form in its many shapes and styles. This is why each week, in the tradition of Kelly Gallahger’s Article of the Week, I share an Essay of the Week with my students that I post here.
The essays come from a wide range of places and the only criteria is that each must in some sort of way embody the classic Montaigne definition that an essay is an attempt to try on or test out an idea. Beyond that the use of ‘I’ and contractions are just fine, if not preferred, and having five paragraphs is an option, but it certainly is not the only one. I also try to pick essays that still impart some sort of knowledge about the world in the same way an Article of the Week does.
To learn more about my Essay of the Week, here is an in-depth post. And here are are my Essays of the week for 2021-2022:
September 13-september 17:
- The Summer After 9/11, A Photographer Documents A City’s Healing by Lucas Foglia and Michele Abercrombie: I’ve been thinking about how to talk about the 20th anniversary of 9/11 with a room full of children who weren’t even alive when the towers fell. This multi-genre piece of photos mixed with a personal essay and an appeal for empathy in this current moment seems like a great place to start, especially because it also serves as a mentor text for what a multi-genre essay can look like before some of my students do the multi-genre Coming of Age contest for the New York Times.
September 7-september 10:
- Gordon Lewis’ “The Man Box“: This week we will be starting our first unit on storytelling. This winning essay from the New York Times Narrative Contest (which will be an option for students to do in this unit) is a wonderful example of how the line between narrative and essay can be thin and fuzzy and how a story or essay can benefit when that line gets blurred. Further, it is a student (and a former student from my school), which helps my students to see that they can do this too.
August 30-September 2:
- John Green’s The Anthropocene Reviewed: John Green is best known for his novels (followed closely by his Crash Courses), but his new collection of essays (the link is to the podcast version; there is also a book) are compelling, entertaining, timely in their topics, at times heart-wrenching, and generally awesome examples of essay writing. They are also John Green, which means there is a high likelihood they will be a hit with my students.
- Malala Yousafzai’s “I Survived the Taliban. I Fear for My Afghan Sisters”
- John Lewis’ “Together You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation”