Chapter 7 Effective Practices in English: Specialty Supplies Primary Author



Download 0.67 Mb.
Page3/6
Date30.04.2018
Size0.67 Mb.
1   2   3   4   5   6

Grading Tips

One of the things that can be inordinately time-consuming when we give writing assignments is the task of grading all of those assignments! Instructors constantly search for techniques that will help them to manage the huge grading load that occurs with writing assignments. Following are a few practical tips and techniques that may help to give you a little extra time away from the grading pen.


Much information has been written about not marking every error in student papers. However, many English instructors feel a compelling sense of duty to mark those errors for their students in the hopes that students will appreciate their vast efforts and learn much from this marking. While we all wish this were true, it is probably not the reality for most students. Developmental students often see the proverbial “bleeding” paper as a sign that they “just can’t write.” With dread and embarrassment, they may try to hide their ink-soaked papers from their peers by quickly stuffing the graded paper into the bottom of their backpacks.
This sets up a situation of extreme frustration on the part of the instructor who can’t understand why all his or her grading efforts are not being appreciated by students. So a great deal of tension can result on both the part of the student and the instructor where grading is concerned. Rather than struggle with this tension, perhaps we might consider a different technique.
Think about the mechanical errors that really frustrate you—the ones that are considered to be your greatest “pet-peeves.” Some of these errors may include fragments, run-on sentences, using a comma between two complete sentences, etc. You get the idea. Make a list of all these errors that you consider to be vitally important to provide clarity to writing. Once you have made the list, look at it again. Are there any errors that you believe are more important than others? If so, try prioritizing the errors. Mark a 1, 2, 3, etc., by the errors you believe to be most important. When you are finished with this prioritized list, strike off the bottom 5 or 6 errors. What you have left is a list of errors that you believe to be vitally important to create clear prose.
Try an experiment with this list. For one writing assignment, give out this list of errors to your students. Tell them you believe this list is vitally important to providing the clearest essay writing possible. Then perhaps you might consider doing some learning activities with your students that revolve around this list. Help them to understand how to avoid these errors and why correcting these errors is essential to effective writing. Then perhaps you can give some in-class writing assignments where students focus on avoiding these errors. Students might even get into groups and go on “safari,” hunting for the ferocious errors that lurk around each corner, just waiting to pounce on and destroy a good essay.
After working with students on your error list, try having them write an assignment and hand it in. It is your task to grade these essays, marking only those usage errors that are on your list. At first it may be difficult to avoid marking every error, but force yourself to make this change for this assignment. When you hand back the essays, you can give students an assignment to try to find any errors you marked that are not on the list. After they try to find these errors on their own papers, then perhaps you can have them work in groups and try to find errors on each other’s papers. In the process of this teacher-error-hunting, encourage students to talk about the errors they see that are on the list, too. In this way, you have turned a grading activity into a real-life learning experience, and you have cut down on the amount of time it takes you to grade your essays as well. You can even draw out this activity throughout the entire semester by referring again and again to your error list.
This exercise focuses primarily on usage errors because these are often the most time-consuming errors that instructors mark in papers. However, please do not forget the larger, more important issues of the paper: the content and organization. For papers that lack development and specific examples or facts, you can develop activities such as the one above that address these concerns as well and help you to cut down on the time you spend in grading.
Another way to cut down on the amount of time you spend in grading essays includes having students share first drafts with one another and find significant errors in both usage and global concerns of the paper. This way, when you receive the draft yourself, you will not have to spend so much time in marking all the errors that could easily be found by peers.
Finally, remember the advice given in the editing section of this chapter. You do not need to correct every error. Correct it the first time it appears and, if you must, perhaps the second. After that use a symbol of the error and place it in the general vicinity of where the error occurs. Give students the responsibility to find and correct the error.
There is no one easy answer to shave off significant amounts of time in the time-consuming task of grading. However, apart from these ideas, many texts that discuss methods for teaching writing also include sections on how to lighten the grading load. Try doing a Google search to find some of these texts or check with your textbook publishing company or your local bookstore to see what books on this subject may be available.
Research Backed-Practices

So, while knowing the writing process and using the tips and tricks listed above, may help you when assigning writing to your students, let’s look at what research has shown us about how best to teach writing. Writing teachers, constantly on the lookout for effective pedagogy to help their students learn, are now moving toward a greater awareness of research-backed strategies for classroom instruction


Research tells us that there are several effective methods for helping to increase the success of developmental writing students. Not comprehensive by any means, this list includes such practices as integrated reading and writing, reciprocal teaching, Reading Apprenticeship, and the use of reading and writing centers. (Center for Student Success, 2007, p. 41) The research data reveals that these practices can help to increase the success, retention, and persistence of our developmental writing students.
While in the past, drill and practice were frequent companions of the developmental writing classroom, today, however, instructors now know that these practices are not very helpful in raising the skill level or success rate of our developmental writing students. (Center for Student Success, 2007, p. 38) Instead, the practices listed above as well as active learning, guided discovery learning, group learning, contextualized learning, learning communities, and other innovative practices have, through research data, proven to be much more effective. (Center for Student Success, pp. 41, 54, 57, 58) Following are a number of helpful strategies that are provided for your use in the classroom, the department, or the institution. They are provided in hopes that you will use them as is or borrow from them in order to build on or enhance the effective practices you may already include in your classroom, department, or institution. In some cases, helpful faculty comments or stories have been provided to serve as starting points for processes that you may wish to implement on your own campus.

Writing Strategies

Guided Discovery Learning

The following exercise provides an example of one effective method, guided discovery learning. In this exercise, designed for students in a writing course one-level below transfer, Andrea Neptune, Sierra College, helps students learn to develop a specific, detailed body paragraph. Students verbally respond to each of the following questions during an in-class writing exercise. They are guided into “discovering” how to make a well-developed paragraph through their own responses to the questions. Rather than tell students how to develop a paragraph, the instructor guides the students to discover the process of paragraph development on their own. In order to reinforce the learning that has occurred during this lesson, students take home a handout to use as a reference tool for their learning.


Questions for Development

Topic Sentence:


1. CLARIFICATION: What do I mean?

2. EXPLANATION: Why do I say this? Why is this true?

3. CAUSES: Why or how did this start?

4. EFFECTS: What are the results?

5. EXAMPLE: Can I show the reader?

6. COMPARISON: What is he/she like?

7. QUOTE: Who says so?

8. STATISTICS: How much?



9. CONCLUSION: How can I end?
Writing a Paragraph Using Questions for Development

Student Handout

Example: Below are examples of how you might answer the Questions for Development so that you can then use your answers to write a well-developed paragraph.
TOPIC SENTENCE: My son Trevin is a mischievous child.
1. CLARIFICATION: What do I mean?

By mischievous, I mean that he is very curious and is always getting into things that he shouldn't.
2. EXPLANATION: Why do I say this? Why is this true?

At the age of two, he is continuously climbing up furniture, spilling something over, or playing with something he shouldn't.
3. CAUSES: Why or how did this start?

Since the day he was born, Trevin has been described as being "100% boy." He is very energetic, he loves play balls of any kind, and he never cries when he falls down.
4. EFFECTS: What are the results?

On a daily basis, I have to clean up some mess that he made or scold him for something he did.
5. EXAMPLE: Can I show the reader?

For example, once Trevin took an entire saltshaker and dumped it out on the kitchen counter. He has also smeared blue toothpaste all over our beige carpet. He even figured out how to open the "child proof' locks on our cabinets and spilled over the garbage!
6. COMPARISON: What is he like?

He is just like an adorable puppy chewing on a new leather shoe and like Dennis from the cartoon "Dennis the Menace"--cute and adorable, devilish and exasperating.
7. QUOTE: Who says so?

Whenever his father says, "Trevin, stop!" Trevin will pause, look at his father in the eye, and begin running in the opposite direction. His grandmother says that he is just like his mother; as a child, I once poured her perfume down the bathroom sink and dumped chocolate cake on the kitchen floor. Grandma eagerly calls to hear the "Trevin report" on a daily basis.
8. STATISTICS: How much?

If Trevin is left alone for more than 5 minutes, he finds some kind of trouble to get into, and he probably gets told "No!" at least a dozen times a day.
9. CONCLUSION: How can I end?

Although my hair may be completely gray by the time Trevin turns 18, at least I know that our lives will always be interesting!



Example of a Paragraph that Has Been Put Together Using Answers to the Questions for Development

My son Trevin is a mischievous child. By mischievous, I mean that he is very curious and is always getting into things that he shouldn't. At the age of two, he is continuously climbing up furniture, spilling something over, or playing with something he shouldn't. Since the day he was born, Trevin has been described as being "100% boy." He is very energetic, he loves play balls of any kind, and he never cries when he falls down. On a daily basis, I have to clean up some mess that he made or scold him for something he did. For example, once Trevin took an entire saltshaker and dumped it out on the kitchen counter. He has also smeared blue toothpaste all over our beige carpet. He even figured out how to open the "child proof” locks on our cabinets and spilled the garbage over the floor! He is just like an adorable puppy chewing on a new leather shoe and like Dennis from the cartoon "Dennis the Menace" --cute and adorable, devilish and exasperating. His grandmother says that he is just like his mother; as a child, I once poured her perfume down the bathroom sink and dumped chocolate cake on the kitchen floor. Grandma eagerly calls to hear the "Trevin report" on a daily basis. Whenever his father says, "Trevin, stop!," Trevin will pause, look at his father in the eye, and begin running in the opposite direction. If Trevin is left alone for more than 5 minutes, he finds some kind of trouble to get into, and he probably gets told "No!" at least a dozen times a day. Although my hair may be completely gray by the time Trevin turns 18, at least I know that our lives will always be interesting!

One way to assess this method is to give students a pre and post test, asking them to write a paragraph in the beginning of the semester and then, after teaching them to use this method, giving the same assignment at the end of the semester. Use a carefully constructed rubric to score the paragraphs each time. After comparing the results, you would be able to see if students have grown in their abilities.


Learning Communities

Learning communities have become increasingly popular because they can often provide students with a sense of community that may be lacking in regular writing classrooms. This connection and sense of community can often be the catalyst for providing increased student success and persistence for developmental students participating in learning communities. (Center for Student Success, 2007, pp. 58-59)


Geneffa Jonker, Cabrillo College, shares with us one model for a learning community that connects both writing and reading. In this learning community, two teachers work together, a reading instructor and a writing instructor, to teach a four-unit writing course and a three-unit reading course, both courses two levels below transfer. The writing course incorporates what used to be a separate one-unit writing lab component concentrating on grammar and usage conventions. Realizing the importance of writing in context, Cabrillo writing instructors subsumed the lab within the larger framework of the class where grammar and usage conventions are now taught in the context of essay writing itself.
The reading component of this learning community, the three-unit reading course, provides the majority of reading assignments within specific texts; however, the writing component provides supplemental reading assignments, such as more extensive reading and research projects. Both courses are taken as co-requisites so that the same student cohorts work closely together throughout the semester.
The learning community centers upon a theme; the theme at the time of this writing revolves around community building, both globally and locally. It is this sense of community building that becomes vitally important within the learning community itself. Students have the opportunity to get to know one another and to rely upon one another for help, support, and encouragement.

An example of the importance that community building plays on student success becomes quite evident when Geneffa Jonker spends time working in the Writing Center. She notices that developmental students who are involved in the learning community come more often to the Writing Center to receive help. She also notices that these students do not come alone. They come with a buddy from their learning community. It would seem that the connection students receive from their learning community helps them to feel comfortable in receiving additional help from support services. This is a fantastic and invaluable component of the learning community that enhances and broadens the potential for even greater student success.


Community building occurs even more in the learning community when students attend two or three “community gatherings” which are held during the semester. These gatherings include joint student presentations including such activities as poetry reading, short plays, or skits. Students sometimes even use a specific novel as text and then project what they believe will happen with characters or with the entire story line during the next ten years or so.
Another fantastic assignment that occurs in the learning community revolves around CNN News anchor Anderson Cooper, who has reported on such life-changing events as Hurricane Katrina and the horrific human suffering that occurred in New Orleans as a result of this catastrophe. During class, students are given the opportunity to watch YouTube clips of Cooper’s newscasts, and then one of their writing assignments revolves around writing letters to Cooper regarding some of his news broadcasting. Assignments in this class are real-life, down-to-earth activities that allow students the opportunity to see how the content of this class relates to their own personal lives. And the assignments center on the all-important theme of community building.
Please see the Appendix 1 for a specific community building handout that Jonker uses with her class.

Integrated Reading and Writing

Another effective method for helping to raise the success rate of students in developmental writing classes is integrated reading and writing. So promising is this concept that information about various types of integrated reading and writing is included in Basic Skills as a Foundation for Student Success in California Community Colleges (Center for Student Success, 2007, pp. 41-44).


Linda Hein, adjunct English Instructor at Skyline College, uses Generation Me in her one-level below transfer integrated reading and writing class. Generation Me is a book written by Jean Twenge, in which she presents research data and draws conclusions about “Generation Me,” individuals born between 1971 and the early 1990’s.

Generation Me

Hein begins by asking her students to read the book’s introduction as well as chapters 1, 2, 3, and 5 during the course of the semester. Each of the chapters are thoroughly discussed in class. However, what makes this book unique is its direct applicability to the students’ own lives. In Generation Me, Twenge looks at how perceptions of morality, behavior, social values, religion, etc., have shifted. Twenge also examines the role of media, television, and self-esteem education (Hein defines this education by using Woody Allen’s statement, “90% of success is just showing up.”)


Hein takes Twenge’s information and discusses it with her students. At first the students are defensive and don’t appear to take criticism of their own generation very well (criticism hasn’t played much of a role in their self-esteem education). They are also quick to judge the Baby Boomer generation. However, as Hein helps her students dig deeper into aspects of their own generation, they soon become more interested than defensive, and they begin to exhibit clear signs of critical thinking.
To help foster even more critical thinking, Hein asks students to consider such concepts as the increase of profanity among their generation. Because students are reluctant to accept this concept, Hein asks them to go to a shopping mall and observe young people from “Generation Me” to see how much they use profanity. Hein’s students are often shocked at the prolific profanity they find. Not only does this exercise help students to critically examine concepts, but it also helps them to become more socially aware. When students come back to class and agree that Twenge’s findings were right, Hein takes her students a step further by asking them to think about why this is happening. Through this questioning, Hein teaches her students that they can argue with the conclusions of the author but not with the actual research data itself. Thus they realize that they themselves are stake holders in the information they learn. This is yet another positive ramification of Hein’s teaching: helping students to think about research, accept some ownership in their own learning of it, and ultimately turn this information learned into a solid research question of their own.
During the course of the semester, Hein teaches four different units that all revolve around Generation Me. (1) Hein uses information found in the introduction, and she asks her students to find something in their generation that embodies or represents themselves. She asks them to write an essay about how they define themselves. (2) Next she uses chapters 1 and 2 and asks students to argue Twenge’s conclusions. Do they agree with her conclusions or disagree with them? Students must select one and build a solid argument. (3) Hein asks students to look closely at the media. For example, she asks them what kind of inferences they can draw about the passive/aggressive behaviors of girls and boys by examining the qualities and characteristics of contemporary dolls and/or action figures (4) Students are asked to complete a research project by selecting information from chapter 4, 6, 7, or possibly 8, though she generally discourages the use of this chapter. These are chapters that have not been directly discussed in class; however, students are to read one of these chapters and come up with a research question, such as “What is the link between self-esteem and teen pregnancy?” In order to help with this oftentimes difficult task, Hein spends approximately two class periods in helping students come up with a suitable research question. In doing their research, Hein encourages her students to use primarily journals, and journals that have been written within the last 20 years. Hein also asks her students to use the appropriate MLA citations. The goal of this project is to familiarize students with the research process so that when they move into English 1A, they will have learned foundational concepts necessary to effective researching and writing.
While Hein has only used Generation Me and its corresponding units for one year, she believes that her students have produced much stronger writing as a result. Since the content is directly applicable to students’ own lives, they become much more interested in it and generally engage more readily and with more excitement and motivation. The assignment also helps them to build critical thinking skills, to become more socially aware, and to recognize and accept ownership for their own actions.




Download 0.67 Mb.

Share with your friends:
1   2   3   4   5   6




The database is protected by copyright ©sckool.org 2020
send message

    Main page