Monday, April 12, 2010

Sommers Article: "Responding to Student Writing"

Sommers raises some interesting points about commenting on students' drafts. I really liked the point that Sommers said about the reason behind teacher commenting. She states that the comments are not so that the teachers can feel as though he or she has done their job, but rather for the students to benefit from. Sommers says that commenting is important because it lets us know when we as writers have effectively communicated our thoughts and have had shared meaning with our readers. I never have thought about editing in this way. In this sense, it helps the writer develop even more control over his or her writing because it is letting the writer know what areas are unclear and need some work. As writers, we sometimes focus in on why a teacher commented on something, instead of the big picture- which is our purpose in writing the paper. I think that the best way to review a paper is to do it face to face and conference with a teacher. This way, comments can be specified (another weakness of teacher revisions that Sommers picks out). Face to face a student and a teacher can develop more shared meaning and weaknesses in the paper can be more clearly pointed out. A brief comment on a paper is difficult to work with when editing. As Sommers also states, many teacher comments are universal and too vague. They can be stamped on just about any paper and are not specific or clear. What do you think is a good solution to the problems that Sommers brings up?

Monday, April 5, 2010

I am beginning to think that grading is going to be one of the most difficult aspects of being a teacher- especially grading students' writing pieces.  For homework tonight, I reviewed a persuasive college essay.  I found many awkward sentences and slang language used throughout the essay.  I also took note of the writer's voice and tone throughout the paper.  The writer, a student criticized by the public and many members of his own family for street racing, used a bitter and angry tone throughout the entire essay.  I found myself bored to death hearing about this student and how much he hates that no one understands his love for street racing.  Looking at the holistic scale, I found it difficult to put this student's piece in a specific grading category.  When I did the "checklist" on the back, it made my job much easier because I could specifically locate which items for lacking in the essay and take points off.  But then I ask myself, should I really take THAT many points away because this kid is angry at the world?  Am I just not a good listener?  Ahh the duty of grading students is sure to be a challenge when I do begin teaching.  I've learned from reading this essay how important it is to "back up" a teacher's grade by providing a checklist of components that are required for points.  While this does limit a writer's freedom, it also helps them because the teacher can be more objective in order to justify a grade.