Number One Way to Streamline Grading in the Writing Classroom

As a writing teacher, have you been lugging home stacks of essays and narratives to grade during the weekend? Do you find that you are usually the last teacher to leave the campus at night because of grading demands? When report card deadlines approach, do you feel a sense of panic because you don’t have substantive grades recorded that show your students’ true writing progress?

Panic no more, my teacher friends! Here’s an easy way to record your students’ progress in writing.

Writing workshop follows a sequence.
·   The teacher gives a mini-lesson.
·   The students write while the teacher moves around the room checking on students’ progress and having mini-conferences.
·  The students share, either in whole group or with partners.

The key to effective grading is during the middle part of the sequence. 

Before class begins, print a blank roster of your class.  (I keep several printed ahead in a file folder in my desk.) While students are writing and you are quietly checking in with students to encourage and support, carry the roster on a clipboard as you move around the room. Jot down the grade and any notes you need to remember about particular students. By the end of the writing workshop, you have a daily writing grade that is meaningful, and you didn’t have to spend an hour after school to accomplish it!
A grade in writing class does not always have to be over an entire composition. For example, if the mini lesson was about introductions, simply grade the introduction. If it was over transitions, then grade only the student’s use of transitions that day.

In my writing class, numerical grades are always the same. This is the system I use.

                100 – Superior. I rarely score 100 for daily writing, but sometimes you have that creative, risk-taking student who goes above and beyond and writes something magnificent.
                95 – Excellent. The student applied the new knowledge to his writing.
                85 – A very good job. The student applied the new knowledge to his writing, but was careless about conventions or other previously learned skills.
                75 – An adequate job. The student attempted to perform the new skill, but was a bit awkward in its application.
                70 – Poor. The student did not apply the knowledge well, but is listening well and attempting to write. This student writes on a lower level than most of your other students and needs a lot of individual support.
                60 – Failing. This student did not try. (I rarely assign this grade.)

So, my teacher friends, make your grading life easier. Simply record the grades for the evaluations you are probably already making during class.
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