The papers are finished. I’ve just marked the last few character essays on A Tale of Two Cities. Though many students nailed the assignment, others struggled to find the organizational structure needed to make the essays work. Others organized well, but then failed to move beyond the obvious.
I didn’t want to grade them. Oh, I know what you’re thinking. But it’s not that I didn’t want to read them.
No, what I always agonize over is putting a letter or number grade on the papers, even when I have relied on a rubric to guide my thoughts. Writing, learning to write, is hard work. It takes time. And I’m not sure my evaluations are all that accurate, anyway. I can’t tell you how many times I have graded an essay only to take a second look the next day and questioned why I had marked it that way.
So. I am trying something new next semester. I am going to have students write and conference with me as they work. Then, when they are finished, I will meet with them again, sharing the strengths and weaknesses of the essay. If they want to re-do, they may. In fact, they may re-write until they get the grade they want, as many times as they want.
I wonder how many students will take me up on this. I wonder if having on-going conversations about their writing will serve as a better approach than simply writing comments in the margins that I am not even sure they read or understand. I wonder if I’ll be overwhelmed with writing conferences during those rare free moments of the day.
It’s worth a try.image credit: www.flickr.com/photos/nirak