Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Grading the Writing Process

My department team was planning our standard alignment plans - basically figuring out what standards from the Common Core we'd cover each year and each semester a student is in high school.  The rest of my department (which is filled with brilliant educators who are ten times better at their job than I am, so this isn't a jab at them, just a disagreement) felt that the writing process (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.5) isn't a standard that should be graded, but discussed frequently with students.

And I'm all for discussing.  And showing them examples of my own writing that went through 10 drafts.  And showing them examples of great published writers who went through 20 drafts.  And probably doing some other stuff that showcases the awesomeness of the writing process.

But I'm also for grading it.  And I don't think it's a hard thing to do.

As it stands now (as this isn't refined or anything), a student who turns in an essay needs to do four things when they turn in their final paper in order to get a passing grade:

  1. Turn in their prewriting, in whatever form it was, with their final draft.
  2. Turn in their "zero draft," their initial attempt at starting/outlining their rough draft, with their final draft.
  3. Turn in their rough draft with the final draft.  The rough draft must be a complete draft - no first-half-of-the-paper rough draft.
  4. On their final draft, highlight all the changes between their rough and final.  (I stole this idea from Linda Christensen.)  Revisions must be significant - this isn't editing for spelling and grammar, it's revising.
On number four I "help" them out some (they would say "make them do extra work") - I make them write three different kinds of hooks and three different types of conclusions, then choose the best one.  Next year, I imagine I could do it with all sorts of different things.  Rewrite your thesis.  Reorder your introductory paragraph, trying the thesis statement at the beginning and the end.  Reorder your paragraphs in another logical way.

To exceed on this standard, students have to schedule a meeting with one of our peer writing tutors and show the changes they made after meeting with them.

I also let student revise their essays, often multiple times, which could be a grading nightmare, except for two things students need to do before I will grade their revisions:
  1. Turn in your original graded rubric returned to you (I scan my stack of graded rubrics and save the final, because about half of the students will lose their graded one).
  2. Highlight all the changes you've made between your final and the revised paper to be graded.  Turn in everything you turned in before.
Then I just look at what they added and determine if it addresses the concerns recorded on the original rubric.

But maybe this is foolish and silly.  Please correct me in the comments.