Saturday, January 23, 2010

Why Am I Checking This Essay?

 Why am I Checking This Essay?

Thanks to all of the wonderful people out there that have been passing my last post around. It came to me while I was driving home from school and it just sort of developed. I hope the rest of my posts are as well received as my last one.  Also, I want to give a shout out to a student of mine. Katie P. (AKA The Turtle) designed the new header for my blog. She did a great job and deserves a shout out.

I've been working on Persuasive Writing with my students and I could not figure out why they were making the exact same mistakes they made a month ago. I took an informal poll of my class. I wanted to know how many actually review their papers after I have checked them. Not surprisingly, the only students who did (a grand total of 2) were my best writers. I then asked the class, "How many just check Pinnacle (our online gradebook) to see the grade?" Again, not surprisingly, the remaining 28 students who struggle with writing raised their hand. The downside of submitting papers online and using an electronic gradebook is the fact that students are not forced to review their personal mistakes. It's easier to see a grade and be content that it was good enough. There had to be a way to fix this. So, I came up with a process to help these students see their mistakes firsthand.

The Guided Essay Correction Process

Day 1 - Go over the fine points of essay writing you want the students to know.

Day 2 - Give the students an impromptu essay in class.

Day 3 - Pass out red pens and have students check their essays based on the exact same criteria established on Day 1. Walk through each part of the essay and allow time for corrections. (Tech Integration Possibility - Use a document camera to show examples to students as they check their own paper.)

Results - Students will see their own mistakes first hand and have a better understanding of what they need to work on in the future.

I'm not suggesting all essays be checked this way, but guiding students through checking an essay can spare you some red ink later.


  1. I don't grade student submissions online the first time through. I make comments for revision in a different color, and fire it back to them. I then give a deadline for the final submission, ask them to double check it, and then submit for grading. It helps catch about 50% of the errors.

  2. Thanks for the idea. I will try to start incorporating that idea into my longer essays.

  3. I remember as a student having to resubmit essays with the suggested revisions. That way (1) we had to read the corrections on the graded essay, (2) we had to understand them in order to correct them, (3) we had to spend time correcting them----all in hopes of remembering not to make the mistake in the next essay.

  4. Nice work Katie P! I noticed the new header...knew that there had to be a story behind it, it is too personalized not to have a story :)


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