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  • Responding to Student Writing (and to Student Writers!)Tom ThompsonProfessor of EnglishThe Citadeltom.thompson@citadel.edu843-953-1418

  • Why do STUDENTS write?

  • Reality check:

    Make a list of the kinds of writing you do outside the classroom.Note to kidsShopping listEmail messageMessage about a phone callReminder to self to do somethingDiscussion on FacebookNotes for classDirections (how to get somewhere)Summary of a faculty committee meetingArticle for an academic journalShare your list with a neighborDBQArtifact to be gradedProof that I know something

  • GIGOTo elicit good writing, you need to start with a good assignment.

  • The Rhetorical Situation

  • What does the writer know about the subject?Writing to learn.Writing to show learning.Writer seeks to discover, clarify, or make sense of new information or ideas. Writer is the primary audience.Usually low stakes.Writer seeks to demonstrate learning to someone else.Teacher is the primary audience.Usually moderate to high stakes.

  • What does the writer know about the subject?without worrying about conventionsWriting to learn lets thewriter focus on the subject

  • Once the writer knows the subjectWhat rules am I expected to follow?What should the final product look like?

  • Step 1: Know WHY the student is writing.Learning content?Showing that theyve learned content?Practicing a skill or a format?Showing their mastery of a skill or a format?Step 2: Know WHY you are responding.To force students to practice?To help students improve a skill?To let students know how they are doing so far?To assess a performance for a grade?

  • You dont have to READ everything your students WRITE.You dont have to GRADE everything you READ.Both FORMATIVE and SUMMATIVE responses can be useful.

  • TextWriterReaderSubject(Teacher)(Student)(Students paper)(Teachers responses)(Classroom setting)Now lets talk about yourresponses what youwrite on thestudentspaper

  • Quality of ideas Appropriateness of the material Accuracy of content presentedOrganization of ideasDepth/development of ideasLikely audience reactionsStylistic/format issuesGrammar/mechanics issuesAspects on Which to Comment: (focus)From Straub & Lunsford, 12 Readers Reading

  • Ways to Respond: (mode)From Straub & Lunsford, 12 Readers Reading

  • Practice Time!Read the sample student paper and respond to it as directed:1st group: focus mainly on ideas; write only descriptive & evaluative statements

    2nd group: focus mainly on ideas; write only questions

    3rd group: focus mainly on format/grammar/mechanics; write only descriptive & evaluative statements

    4th group: focus mainly on format/grammar/mechanics; write only questions

  • Practice Time!Now, swap papers with someone in a different group and compare comments.

    Compare focus: ideas vs form. Describe your reaction as if you were the student author. (Which comments were useful? Why? Which comments were not useful? Why?)Compare mode: statements vs questions.)Again, describe your reaction as if you were the student author.

    What are potential benefits of each focus and mode? What are potential drawbacks of each?

  • Remember:Not all aspects of an assignment are equal. If something MATTERS more, you should pay it more attention. Dont worry as much about less important aspects of the work.Perhaps more importantly, not everything has to count not every performance has to be graded. Practice is important. Grades might be required at the end of the process, but they can do more harm than good when they interfere with that process.

  • Continuum of ResponsesNo response (Theyre just practicing!)Minimal response (Done/not done; check/check-plus/check-minus)Short conference (A few key questions or comments)Rubric (Scored by teacher, or maybe by student)Critical response, diagnosis, or advice (You write a lot!)

  • If you remember only ONE THINGUse a response method that is appropriate to the assignment and the goals.

  • Tom ThompsonEnglish DepartmentThe Citadeltom.thompson@citadel.edu843-953-1418Contact Information:

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