How To Comment Student’s Writing And Not Demotivate Them
Perhaps every teacher can say that responding to a student’s writing is a time-consuming thing. That is what Nancy Sommers, a lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Education and a founder of the Harvard Writing Project, says.
She believes that responding to the writing can exhaust much more than other parts of teaching. She makes such a conclusion after her great research on responding to the student’s writing, which has lasted tens of years. Sometimes students just don’t know what to do with those comments.
Sommers states that the responding is very important as it may influence a development of a student’s writing skills. Therefore, a teacher should know what to say to their students and how.
Comments Does Not Always Help
A teacher uses comments to show a student where their arguments are fine and where they should revise their paper. However, a student may not understand what to do next. And here is why.
- Comments may contradict
A teacher may make corrections on your grammar and offer to think over the idea a little bit more. Here a student cannot understand what a teacher wants them to do. If a part of a text should be changed, then is it relevant to talk about grammar if the text is going to be rewritten?
- Comments are vague
Teachers want their students provide an exact idea with clear facts. However, if a paper seems not exact for a teacher, they can ask you to be more specific. But how can a student be specific if a teacher is not?
Anyway, it all seems like a teacher wants you to write a paper as they want. Then why do you have to want to keep on writing?
How To Teach With Comments
If a teacher would like to avoid moments mentioned above, they should ask themselves what they want their students to learn and how their comments can help those students with that, Sommers says. A big number of comments may not help students understand all the mistakes. And here is what Sommers suggests.
Comments on the first and the final drafts should be different.
As for the first draft, a teacher should check where the paper is and where a students should move with their research. A teacher can suggest strengthening or reorganizing the arguments. When the final draft is ready, a teacher should concentrate on strong and weak points of a paper and give some tips on further writing.
Fixing grammar is not a first thing to do.
A teacher should not correct every grammatical mistake. Otherwise, a student may be distracted from other, much bigger problems in their paper. Besides, there is no guarantee a student will remember those grammar rules in the future.
It would be better to make notes on common mistakes a student does. Thus, they can see what they have problems with, and concentrate on their solving. A teacher can also give some grammar assignment based on a student’s mistakes to help them improve their knowledge.
“Cooperate” with students
A teacher’s comments may influence a student better when there is a communication, not just giving instructions. When students hand in their papers, a teacher can ask them to write kind of a letter where they ask to comment on specific parts of the paper. Later, students can also write a short answer where they explain how they are going to use a teacher’s feedback, that is what they will change and how exactly.
Explain what comments are for
Many students do not understand why teachers leave comments on their papers. At the beginning of a term—the sooner the better—a teacher should explain that the feedback will help them improve their papers, and what that feedback will be like.
Use a classroom language
When teachers work with students, they build their own sort of communication so that they all understand each other clearly. That is why comments on a paper should use the same language. Therefore, students will easier perceive information and understand what they need to do.
It may concern freshmen more. They are new to college life and rules. A paper may be their first serious writing, and a teacher has to know how to motivate students. Apart from highlighting major mistakes, a teacher should show strong points of a paper too. In that case, a students will see they are moving the right way, but there are some things they should pay attention to.