Would you like a grading strategy that puts the responsibility for learning in your students’ hands? You can do that by leaving feedback in the form of a question, rather than a statement.
Let me show you what I mean.
I tried something new while I was grading my tenth grader’s persuasive research essays last week. It was not a pre-planned strategy; instead, it was one that was born out of frustration. In the end, though, I’m liking it because it put more responsibility in the students’ hands – right where it should be.
Why was I frustrated? One of the skills I focused on for this assignment was embedding and citing quotations. We did quite a lot of work on it before the final copy was due. The kids had access to handouts and a slideshow that showed them how to do it properly. They just had to take the time to review it when they did their final revisions.
So, when I discovered a quotation that was just plopped into the essay without an introduction or citation, I highlighted it and wrote “What’s missing?” If the punctuation was incorrect, I asked, “Where does the period/comma go?”
The next thing I noticed was a great number of fused sentences and fragments, so my questions changed to: “Why is this a comma splice?” and “Why is this a fragment?”
Now this would just be a complete waste of time, if I didn’t plan a “next step.” After the kids got their essays back, they were required to choose one component of the rubric to redo, something I do with each major assignment. However, this time, they had to respond to my questions as well. I reminded them of the handouts they had in their binders, and told them to go find the answers – and then fix the error on their essay. Of course, if they still didn’t know what to do, they had to ask me during work time in class.
They resubmitted their essays on Google Classroom, and had to highlight the areas where the changes were made – and respond to my questions in the comments.
Now this might seem like I’m just adding too much work to my already sky-high pile. However, I really believe that it’s worth it because I’m holding the kids responsible for using the feedback I give. Also, the highlighting makes it easy for me to see the revisions, so it’s actually a pretty quick process. The other reality is that when I started allowing for redos, I had to drop some other assignments – and that’s OK, because now my students are learning more in the long run!
Do you have any feedback strategies that really work? Let us know in the comments!