Monday, October 7, 2013

Reading Their Writing

I love reading what my students write.

I hate assigning a grade to what my students write.

Unfortunately, refusing to assign grades is not an option. I did stop using rubrics last year, and I don't regret it.

Here's how I handle 'grading' writing now: I read and respond, sometimes marking corrections and always writing a note with what works and what needs improvement. I make a note for myself about one or two writing issues for each student. Writing then falls into one of three categories. Great/You're Done means any changes are minor or just suggestions. I enter 90% in the gradebook. You should redo this/Recommended Redo means the writing should be stronger or there are some mistakes with things we're still practicing in class. The score is an 80%. Required Redo means there are the kinds of obvious mistakes that 8th graders shouldn't be making, or a lack of effort is obvious in the writing. This means the writing doesn't meet the minimum standard for the assignment. The score is 70%. Students can redo any assignment, especially writing, as many times as they need to.

Some of this, of course, is specific to my school and my students. Our grading scale doesn't include pluses or minuses, so a 90% is an A. Although this means an 80% is a B, most students hate having a score that low and will redo it. No one finds a 70% acceptable, so they'll redo that too. And I only have 26 students total this year, so reading student work multiple times is not an impossible task.

This year I'll assign a deadline for resubmitting work, probably a week after the paper is returned to students, and the new grade erases the old one. At times I'll still have too many papers to read, but I can never complain given our class sizes. I remember clearly what it was like to have 150 students and 100+ papers.

How do you handle grading writing?

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