Ever felt like you would lose it trying to grade your student’s writing assignments? You are not alone, so use some of these tips on how to grade writing assignments to ease your mind a bit.
Please don’t judge me. I LOVE grading papers. I am not lying when I tell you that people send me their resumes, letters, thesis, college papers – and all just to proofread.
That is why it was a surprise to me, after years around the homeschool community, to find that one of the most dreaded things for moms to do is GRADE A WRITING assignment.
I mean we know we want our children to write and write well. We understand that lots of practice will help them improve their writing skills. BUT… who is going to grade all of those assignments?
Let’s be real with ourselves for a moment here. Giving writing assignments is inevitably giving ourselves more work. Why are we punishing ourselves like this? I am sure some of us have wondered this very thing.
What do we even look for when grading writing assignments? Are we grading the content or grammar, or both? How? Should I take points off for punctuation? Add points for creativity?
Then we have to explore the basics like an introduction, body, and conclusion. All that will be in addition to determining what the focus or style of writing is, such as creative writing, opinion papers, essays, research papers, book reports, ahhhhhhhhh.
The truth is that all our kids are different; we all may want our kids to internalize certain things during the writing process and journey.
Here is another truth. There are no common core standards to comply with. Forget about state mandates because you are the mandate and you are the principal.
Now, take a breather. You MUST avoid burnout because grading writing assignments, especially as your students grow older, can make you want to pull your hair out at times.
Learn some tips on how to grade writing assignments from a once Early Learning Teacher to Secondary English Teacher — turned home educator.
1. Absolutely #1… is making a Checklist and Rubric.
With a checklist and rubric, your student is able to check off when they have met criteria and evaluate their own writing in a sense, before it even gets to you.
Trust me that using a checklist and rubric can be a learning curve, but once your student uses one you will wonder why you hadn’t assigned one sooner.
The checklist and rubric can be provided to your kids alongside their assignment and when it is time to revise after it has been graded.
2. Not all writing has to be assignments
I am just meaning that we don’t have to give our students huge book reports, research papers, or reflection papers in order for us to know that they are writing well.
Shorter assignments mean they require less time for you, but more attention to detail.
Give short assignments, writing prompts, or quick and fun writing activities. This allows you to see their writing, but also check for understanding of tasks, snapshots of grammar issues, and more.
3. Create a simple system for short assignments.
Develop a point system for short writing assignments. For instance, you can give a 10/10 (10 out of 10), stickers for younger students, or use the check, check minus, or check plus system. Then of course at the end of the year or term, they can drop their lowest score!
This will provide students with quick feedback, so leave the in-depth grading through a rubrics and such for less frequent longer assignments.
4. Homeschool editing swaps.
Get with some families who are willing for their kids to swap papers in order to proofread before submitting to you.
5. Refrain from writing a report on their book report.
Basically, KISS that paper and KISS it now. Keep it simple, Sally. Your feedback should be quick to the point or even a question mark should you not make out what your child is trying to say.
It is up to them to ask you why they were graded a certain way if they feel they deserved better.
6. Make your own or use a free grading form alongside each writing assignment.
Grading forms drastically reduce the time it will take you to grade your student’s paper. I have in the past found myself reading the assignments two or three times before I started grading it, then I would forget what I was supposed to be looking for.
That is a big waste of time if I ever had one. Let’s get rid of that anguish (I am dramatic, I know). Grab a form as you read the writing assignment and start checking off items as you go.
All you need to do afterward is give the grading sheet to your student so that they immediately know exactly what they need to fix and why.
Here are a few writing assignments, tools, and ideas for you to start using your tips today:
FREE Writing Activities! | Around the Kampfire
72 5th Grade Writing Prompts | Journal Buddies
FREE (K,1,2 grade) Writing Activities | Miss Faleena
All Age FREE Writing Prompts | Freedom Homeschooling
I totally understand (and many others of us) understand that there are soooooo many better things we can be doing with our time other than grading papers.
We get it. We are in agreement with you, but in the meantime enjoy what you have taught your child and how they are able to express it on paper.
Jeannette is a wife, mother and homeschooling mom. She has been mightily, saved by grace and is grateful for God’s sovereignty throughout her life’s journey. She has a Bachelor in English Education and her MBA. Jeannette is bi-lingual and currently lives in the Tongan Islands of the South Pacific. She posts daily freebies for homeschoolers!
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