Fellow English teacher Heather recently asked, “How do you do grades?” With her permission, I’m posting our email conversation in a Q&A format. Maybe you’re new to the classroom or, like Heather, just looking for a new approach. Either way, here’s a look at how I keep scores. Continue reading
Don’t get mad, but I’m starting to think that much of the misery of grading papers lies in the types of assignments we give. Take, for instance, the research paper. Here’s a typical assignment: Choose a person of influence and explain three ways that person improved the world.
This might become an interesting paper if the writer is actually excited about the subject; more often, though, my students don’t care one bit about Sam Walton, Andy Warhol, or Oprah Winfrey. Continue reading
The only way I’ve found for students to really grow as writers is for them to write a lot and get meaningful feedback on their work. The reality, though, is there’s only one of me and 170+ of them, so my time with each student is limited. One way to maximize writing growth is a technique my students have dubbed, “Crazy Essay Week.” Continue reading
About eight years ago, I stopped giving out-of-class writing assignments and, instead, decided to have all major papers written in class. I told my students this was because I wanted to prepare them for the high-stakes timed essays of the AP, EAP, and SAT exams. This, however, was only a half-truth. My larger motivation was that I’d grown weary of the stress and lost prep periods dealing with case-after-case of plagiarism. Continue reading
In April, the Modern Language Association folks revamped their suggested citation formatting to be a better fit in our digital age. The release of the 8th edition of the MLA Handbook gives us quite a few changes to help students manage the mound of electronic resources now available and, while these changes are super-helpful, they made my old lesson materials completely obsolete. So what did I do on my first week of summer vacation? I took to the pool with a copy of the new MLA handbook. True, the excitement never ends around here. Continue reading