Today’s quick tip is for teachers, especially those teaching grade levels where you need to provide feedback and commentary on essays and general writing assignments. I taught middle school Language Arts, which encompassed grammar/spelling, writing and literature. I had approximately 120 students pass through my classroom door each day, AND I loved to teach writing. This meant that I was often overloaded with grading, and it was the type of grading that requires more than a simple answer key or the help of a teacher’s aide. In order to respond in depth and in a timely manner to all students, I used a streamlined way of providing them with general feedback. This way I could spend the bulk of time evaluating content, sentence structure, flow, how students organized their writing and grammar (I always made these comments by hand).
- Purchase a pack of Avery (or other brand) address labels in white.
- Choose some phrases and/or comments that you commonly use when commenting on student assignments. Some common phrases I used include,
- “Boring!” I used this when students failed to utilize rich, interesting language in their essays. How many times can a kid use “good” to describe something?
- “Check for spelling errors.” I might put this next to a paragraph with lots of errors.
- “Awkward.” I would use this if students used words out of context or had written a funny sounding sentence.
- “Proofread for content.” I would use this if a student missed the mark on what the assignment meant or did not address all the requirements for content. I would sometimes follow this up with a written note on what was missing from the content.
- “Great use of descriptive vocabulary!”
- “Excellent. You addressed every element of the assignment!”
- Print as many pages as needed with each comment (you may also have different labels for different grade levels or subject areas).
- As you are reading assignments, place them in strategic areas of the paper or at the beginning/end of the assignment.
- Make sure you explain what each label means before using them. Support student growth by encouraging students to come to you for assistance and/or clarification.
- This system will also allow you to informally track where your students are having the most difficulty. For example, if you need to use a certain comment over and over again, you may find that your students do not understand that aspect of the assignment. If you catch a lot of spelling errors, you know you need to review this area as well.
As teachers, I know we all want to install in our students a lifelong love a learning. Part of how we do this is by providing them with valuable, well thought out and pertinent feedback. I hope this tip will help you be more effective when providing student feedback on writing assignments. I’d love to hear your tips too. Happy grading!!