Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Correcting Writing Errors

I read an interesting post today by Dana concerning marking errors in student papers:
Exactly which method of writing instruction works best?
  • Explicitly marking each error in a student’s paper.
  • Marking a line, indicating an error, but leaving it for the student to identify what the error is.

Which method do you use? Which method do you think would help students learn errors and how to correct them?

I've posted on this subject very briefly before, although in a different context. In a class I took a year ago (Teaching Reading was the title), we read Breaking the Rules by Edgar Schuster. One of the book's premises (if I remember right, I can't find it on the bookshelf) was that students don't need to know the rules of grammar before they write. They can learn them along the way with minilessions and by trial and error.

Nina's comment to Dana's post was pretty much along the same lines of Schuster's and my thinking:
I would generally put a check to the right of a line and write down the section of Hacker that addressed the error. They were required to look up the info for a homework grade and correct the errors. Usually I tried to focus primarily on those aspects we’d covered in class. If a particular type of error occurred more than once, I’d make a note of it in my comments at the end of the paper.
The only thing I would add (and this isn't really adding, but elaborating, I guess; I just like listening to myself talk) is that errors in grammar and capitalization or any other aspect of "Standardized American English" can be a progressive thing throughout the year. Start with minilessons at the beginning of the year and in the first paper, only mark those errors that were taught in class. Before the next paper, do another minilesson or two and then add those to the list one marks in papers.

And while I'm thinking about it, here's another interesting tidbit I learned from Marty Marsh at Lesher Junior High, though I don't know the original source. If you use a pen when you correct papers, a study found students feel worse when the marks are made in red than in another color. Woah, Twilight Zoney . . .

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