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Marking so Students Learn

That IS the point right?


Like many of us, I went to public school. I wanted A's - I wanted to succeed, but somewhere along the line I missed the point. I strove for grades - not excellence. If I could do well with minimal work, all the better!


This is not the excellence we hope to instill in our students!




There are many methods to marking/grading/feedback that homeschool parents choose, and I would not dare to imply that what you have chosen is wrong - if it is working for your student! However, here is what I do in my classes, and recommend for parents who want to know how to mark their student's writing.


Why a Number Grade?

I will, for families who prefer no number grade, give feedback and no number grade, but for the most part I give number grades for my classes because students can quantify their growth. They can see in a measurable way if they are improving in an area.




Prepare for Success with a Marking Rubric

Rubrics are just simple charts that help a student know exactly what is expected of them. They can succeed if they do these things. This is vitally important for the youngest, or most struggling writers. The bar must be set so they can succeed.



No writer should be graded on material they have not been explicitly taught and Early Writers should have completely objective tasks in their writing so they can achieve a perfect score.

BUT... How will they improve?


Simple: You will teach the next step in writing based on their personal growth needs and then you will add it to the rubric! A very early writer rubric will have only a couple items on it that the student must accomplish. Perhaps writing 3 sentences describing something with capitals and periods for each sentences. Nine points and perfectly attainable.


As you see an area that your student struggles in you teach that next step. Perhaps it is having complete sentences with a subject, verb and complete thought, or perhaps it is spelling. Just remember that in the early stages your job is to create a successful experience! Brainstorm words they may need and make a list they can copy from so they can spell the words correctly, or teach and practice complete sentences first.





Teach your student to Edit

Students should use the rubric to check their work before handing it in! They can even grade their own before there is subjective grading added.


This is the first step to learning that writing is a process. Just because they have words on the page, does not mean they are finished. They must reread it and look for errors, and then use the rubric to be sure they have done everything they can to make it as complete as possible.


Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear. -Patricia Fuller

Change Your Rubric To Suit Your Student

As your student grows and learns keep adding - do not remove things until they have proven absolute mastery. Having easy things on your rubric allows your student to feel they have succeeded even if they do not hit perfection every time. It's good to not get it perfect for that is how we grow and learn, but it it is vital that the student feel that they can do well even if they are not perfect.


Keep the Growth Going

Writing is a progressive skill. It is not a grade-levelled skill. If you have a student that is struggling continue to work where they are and move forward. If you have a student that has soared do not clip their wings;

lead them to knew heights. Continue to add more levels to student writing by considering argument, quality research and sources, combining sentences with coordinating and subordinating conjunctions, comma placement, quality verbs, and increased vocabulary. Keep that student moving forward one small step at a time.


But I Don't Know What to Teach!

There are lots of great resources out there. I recommend Jump In by Sharon Watson, or Power in Your Hands by Sharon Watson, and "English Grammar Revolution" a website of great resources by Elizabeth O'Brien. If you still don't feel confident to teach or grade your student's writing reach out to people around you who can help. Often friends or relatives are willing to help teach or advise and it builds great relationships with this extended family unit! Feeling alone or looking for something more? I welcome you to explore the courses, tutoring and essay feedback services by Discern To Learn.


Start with a Free Download

I've started this process for you - you can download my Rubrics Starter document and edit it for all your rubric needs. On it you'll find rubrics for beginner students, early paragraph writers, early essay writers, and some examples of my middle school and high school rubrics used in my courses.


Never Learn Alone!




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