Correcting Papers

Ran into Steve K., who teaches writing at a local college, at Victoria Station Café (Dave’s) yesterday. We’ve been talking on and off about the joys and tribulations of teaching writing. He showed me some of his student papers, and I showed him some of mine. He said that his students are making exactly the same grammatical errors in senior year of college that my ninth graders are making. I could see that.

How do I get my students to STOP making those mistakes NOW, so that they get better grades in high school and college? Is there any other way than to give them the writing practice now? I don’t know. There is, as Steve said, no magic bullet to shoot into someone that makes them a perfect writer in English. Darn.

We agreed that FMD was actually a pretty good writer, other than that he uses the passive voice too much (and maybe copies out of the book). AA had more than 27 misspellings in 100 words. Type a hundred words, and see how many misspellings you have. JH had no idea what the assignment was; he was so lost it was cute. WW is pretty good, but he tends to fictionalize things too much. BW doesn’t write enough. MG and CH both use “I” statements a lot, and it’s boring.

On the other hand, I’m greatly encouraged. There’s some good stuff going on in this writing, and all it needs is a little fine-tuning. That shouldn’t take too long, right?

2 comments

  1. You should look into Focus Correction Areas to help your students resolve their grammatical issues. Assign a paper and break down how the paper will be graded for the students. Weigh the area you want them to work on, like passive voice, very highly, like 40 to 60% or higher, and let them know that if a student makes one mistake and use passive voice even once then s/he fails the paper and must rewrite it. Repeat this over the course of a few papers.

    This system helped me a great deal when I was in High School. Talk to your coworkers about it.

    Good luck.

  2. You should look into Focus Correction Areas to help your students resolve their grammatical issues. Assign a paper and break down how the paper will be graded for the students. Weigh the area you want them to work on, like passive voice, very highly, like 40 to 60% or higher, and let them know that if a student makes one mistake and use passive voice even once then s/he fails the paper and must rewrite it. Repeat this over the course of a few papers.

    This system helped me a great deal when I was in High School. Talk to your coworkers about it.

    Good luck.

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