Grading essays is so much work. Am I right or am I right?
Too often, I find myself reading essays and not comprehending the content because I am so hung up on grammatical errors. My students still do not know when to use a comma, where to add apostrophes, or how to ensure correct subject verb tense. Focusing on ALL of these grammatical errors is the opposite notion of my beliefs as a writing teacher, even though I have been trained to markup essays in red pen. I remember how I would feel as a student receiving an essay back, marked up in the dreaded red color: completely and utterly defeated. I don’t want my students to ever feel that way. In my ELA classes, I focus on building student’s confidence and growing as writers. At the end of the day, I want my students to develop a love for reading and writing, and know that they can write really well!
There is no possible way to teach grammar mini lessons for every single skill for every single writing piece. If you feel like your head is ready to explode and steam could come out of your ears when you read your students’ writing, continue reading for a few tips.
1) I pinpoint a few key grammar skills to work on with each writing piece.
This will vary for each writing piece and sometimes each ELA class depending on their areas of need in writing.
- For example, in our narrative, I did specific lessons on word choice, sentence starters, and sentence length. Students revised and edited to show the changes they made to add stronger (and more age appropriate) words, to differ how they started their sentences, and to vary their sentence length. These skills were then assessed on the rubric.
2) Use grammarly.com
Grammarly is an extension for Chrome that allows you and your students to check grammar, states the error, and makes a suggestion for correcting the error. Students can copy and paste their writing into a document where it checks grammar or it can be done directly in the Google document.
- There is a free and a Platinum version.
- The free version is obviously a bit limited but does the trick for recognizing basic grammatical needs.
- The Platinum (paid) version allows educators to check student’s writing for plagiarism.
- Grammarly is also compatible with Windows and Microsoft Office.
- With a click of a button, Grammarly can check anything you do online, so I often use it for my writing as well (emails to parents, this blog post, etc.). I have to tell you: I feel much more confident with an easy check from Grammarly.
Above is an example of Grammarly. Errors are marked in red. Click on each to find out more about the error and how to fix it or ignore it. Below is an example of one of the errors.
3) Let it go, Let it go…
I channel my inner Elsa while reading essays and I have stopped marking up errors of grammar mistakes that we haven’t focused on correcting and addressing in class. However, with that being said, I HIGHLY encourage my students to use Grammarly to clean up their essays before submitting. This saves me a ton of time while grading.
4) Keep a Journal: After using Grammarly, I ask my students to record and reflect on their grammatical mistakes for each writing piece. We keep a journal, using Read It Write Learn It’s: Grammar Gurus Freebie that encourages my students to celebrate and fix mistakes, and avoid making the same mistake twice.
I hope you found this helpful! I would love to hear what you use in your ELA classroom below. Happy Teaching!