Gems from the English final

Every June, I ask my students to write a final exam essay in which they reflect on their year as 7th graders — how they’ve grown as readers, writers, and human beings.  Every June, the results are priceless.  Here’s a sampling of wit and wisdom from this year’s kids.

I’ve learned that reading and writing can change the world.

People who don’t pick good books are missing out on the whole other world that the book makes you a part of.

I’ve become more mature this year. I used to find fart jokes hilarious, but now they are so “two-year-old.”

Life goes on long past when school ends, but do we stop learning? No! Whether it’s learning not to touch the stove, or algebra, or how to balance a three year old on your back without them falling off.    To learn is life.  And yes, that’s the corniest sentence ever written.

When I write, everything around me just seems to float away.

Francis Bacon said, “Some books are to be tasted, some to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.”  It’s pretty funny that he talks all about food and his last name is a food.

This one is from a student who raised her hand during the test to ask a question. 

“Mrs. Messner, who’s the audience for this?”


“Just you?  Not some state test person?”


“So we should write with real voice and not just worry about getting points?”


Then she wrote this introduction:

Well, I can think up a much more interesting topic to write about instead of my growth in seventh grade.  I could write about the proper word for insect poop, frass.  I could write about who created this word and why they thought “frass” would be such a lovely word to call insect poop.  However, since I don’t want to end seventh grade with a big, fat F, I guess I’ll write about the essay topic now.

I loved this paragraph, even though it might make


Linda Urban’s author visit inspired me to write.  It’s great the way she can make a story happy, sad, and funny all at once.  She is a great speaker and an amazing person.  I really love the way she never gives up.  If you see her, could you please tell her I said thank you so much for giving us that speech and giving us great advice.

Consider it done.

And finally, two quotes that I will be posting on my own bulletin board – good advice for writers of all ages.

This year, I’ve learned to convert negative energy into positive.

And maybe my favorite – simple but so, so true…

Writing is possible if you practice.

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