More ideas on grading essays

I’m always interested in how others handle the paper load that comes with being an English teacher. I’ve tried many different techniques myself ranging from jing videos to tablet pc mark-up options and Word commenting, as well as good old fashioned pen and paper (oh, how I LOVE my teal pens!). I also have had to learn to curb my copy editor mode and bite back the frustration of seeing a draft paper with all of my copious remarks land in the trash can 5 minutes after I hand the essays back.

As I think most teachers do, I strive to find new techniques to test out here and there especially if I think one might help with a particular assignment or even class. (I also like to get feedback from the kids on what helps them the most, too.) So, this year I’m interested in taking a closer look at one of the techniques talked about in my AP Lit workshop involving highlighters and set paragraphs.

Basically one of the suggestions was to go through and highlight all of the “good stuff” that you want to see more of in that student’s writing. Then, at the end of the essay, you attach your set paragraph that highlights what the student needs to work on and any issues with the work (i.e. grammatical issues or concrete textual examples).

While this method seemed to run pretty smoothly, I do think it would take a bit to develop that set “paragraph” (almost like a rubric of sorts I’m thinking?) as well as modify it for different assignments. Yet again, it seems efficient, and I like the idea of highlighting all of the good (versus marking up all of the bad).

What other ideas do you all have to help handle the paper load?

ps I just commented on another blog discussing the idea behind the writing critic and the writing judge. (Here’s the article referenced.) To help me be a “critic,” I like to try to give my students three things they did well and three things they need to improve upon for next time. I also really like having kids review my mark-ups and then grade themselves as well as blind peer reviews. Finally, I can’t help but advocate for writers’ workshops! I love seeing the kids engaged and helping each other become better!

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2 thoughts on “More ideas on grading essays

  1. I like this idea of highlighting positive things! I try to give kids credit when they do things well, but sometimes it’s hard to remember when we’re so focused on what they need to learn (and seemingly aren’t).

    What I’ve done to handle the paper load is to not grade everything and focus on one or two things at a time. Oh yes they WANT a grade for it; that’s a discussion to have up-front, since they’re not used to it. But I’ve found that it’s easier for me to get through a paper quickly if I just read it for content and respond with a comment or two without hassling over points and grading. Also, I just focus on whatever techniques or concepts we have recently learned. As the year goes on, I can hold them accountable for more, but I really try to just focus on whatever we’re currently learning (be it grammar or writing concepts), which again helps me get through the paper quicker. This is hard, because I want to draw their attention to everything I see that stumbles. But that’s overwhelming for both of us. It’s hard, and I haven’t quite perfected it yet, but I’m determined to try!

  2. I also like the highlighting idea. I grade everything turned in; however, I keep most of it. It’s the commenting, not the grading, that takes so much time. I give all students a weekly paper with their scores on the assignments from the preceding week so students always know what they made on papers that weren’t returned. I comment only on papers that will be revised.

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