A colleague asked me about this for A-Level, so I produced a small work pack in a PPA. Interesting task, the kind of stuff that paperwork often isn’t!

One way of planning and writing evaluations

 

The issue with (many) evaluations is that they lack a focus. The reader can’t sense the prior thought that must have gone into them. This is despite the effective vocabulary. However, this is easily fixable.

Students can decide if they have written an effective evaluation if it fulfils the following criteria:

1)    Does the first sentence give a value judgement of topic being described? It is usually in the form of a statement. For example, “the VW Campervan’s iconic reputation is represented in TV and film.”

 

2)    Does the rest of the essay build from this statement? (see points 3 and 4 for what this means.)

 

3)    Does the conclusion have a statement that shows what your evaluation has been building up to?

 

4)    If you only read the first sentence of each paragraph, could you understand your argument?
One way to plan an evaluative essay/piece of writing is with the following exercise. It is effective.

 

 

 

 

 

First think of 15 ideas to do with your topic. Perhaps students might want to create this from the essays they have just written? This is an example for Alistair’s essay:

Standard parts Can be broken down Made of ferrous metal Large slide doors are ergonomic Lasts a long time
Runs on petrol – not good for environment Have run for 60 years Most famous vehicle of the 60s Used in film and TV Converted to be used as ambulances etc
First to have certain shaped parts Various colours Adjusted to fit folding beds High priced when released so sign of affluence Still iconic now

 

Next he needs to choose the five most ‘important’ points. You can direct their focus on this (e.g. what 5 points will help you to understand the VW’s cultural value; what 5 points will help them to understand the physical design), or they can choose themselves. As many of these 15 points are often linked, they might want to choose the 15 most distinctive points.

Lasts a long time Converted to be used as ambulances etc Used in film and TV High priced when released so sign of affluence Large slide doors are ergonomic

 

From these points, the student then chooses their most important point that will form the focus of their evaluation. From the above, I might choose (this side of breakfast):

High priced when released so sign of affluence

 

This would be the focus of my essay: that although the VW’s CV initially represented affluence, its longevity has made it iconic.

I would then order my five points so as to build from this focus. For example:

High priced when released so sign of affluence Large slide doors are ergonomic Used in film and TV Lasts a long time Converted to be used as ambulances etc

I need to have thought about how these points might link together. For example, my links might be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1: High priced when released so sign of affluence 2: Large slide doors are ergonomic 3: Used in film and TV 4: Lasts a long time 5: Converted to be used as ambulances etc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extension

Next I would see how each of the remaining 15 points might then link into the 5 ‘category’ points chosen above. This is a continued example.

High priced when released so sign of affluence

Runs on petrol – not good for environment

Large slide doors are ergonomic

Standard parts

Can be broken down

Made of ferrous metal

First to have certain shaped parts

Used in film and TV

Most famous vehicle of the 60s

Various colours

Lasts a long time

Have run for 60 years

Still iconic now

Converted to be used as ambulances etc

Adjusted to fit folding beds

 

From this plan, the student can write a ‘five part’ essay, with links between each part of the evaluation (and the detail to contain in each section.)

Note that each section is not uniform in size. Clearly the section on the ergonomic design might be two paragraphs (or more), and it (by itself) doesn’t evaluate the product. But it is good for the student to see this. In fact, the part of the essay that might be most evaluative is the shortest: (that the VW campervan can be adjusted, which might help explain its longevity and, therefore, its iconic status.) It does, of course, rely upon the ‘groundwork’ already provided by the factual analysis earlier in the essay.

Extension 2
Sometimes it is useful for students to, either verbally or writing, to write a topic sentence for each section. Each paragraph essentially needs a statement in its first sentence that explains, or (rather) sets-up the rest of the paragraph’s analysis. This sentence must be short. It must be clear.

Examples of topic sentences:

1: High priced when released so sign of affluence 2: Large slide doors are ergonomic 3: Used in film and TV 4: Lasts a long time 5: Converted to be used as ambulances etc

 

1)    VW campervans, contrary to their image now, were initially purchased by affluent people.

2)    The costly parts for the VW campervan meant that it was robustly design.

3)    Its design was also iconic, as the VW campervan was been used in TV and film.

4)    The physical longevity of the VW campervan has meant that it is has continued to be in the public eye.

5)    This longevity has been extended by the adaptation of the VW campervan.