Help!! I moved from 1st to 6th this year and I love it. I am so happy that I made the move. The main problem that I have run into is that I don't have a system for keeping up with grading the student's writing. I have single handedly buried myself in good intentions. Does anyone out there have a system for grading 101 personal narratives before the end of the school year?
If it is the first writing assignment, give a grade for completion. Let them know the 100 is for finishing the assignment and tell them you will focus on more specific areas of writing as the year progresses. For now, you just want to see how they write. (Then LET THE ASSIGNMENT GO. )
Next, teach them to peer edit and fix simple mistakes (capitalization, punctuation, commonly misspelled words) before you even look at their next writing assignment. You help them with the more difficult process of revising. By the time they turn in the final copy, the paper is practically perfect and very easy to grade with a rubric.
Keep rubrics simple. Use six traits and focus / grade one aspect of writing at a time. Give mini-lessons beforehand so the kids know what you expect of them.
I did the same thing when I started in 6th grade. I found myself with more writing to grade than I could possibly manage. One very wise teacher told me that I don't have to grade everything they write. Writing in itself is a learning experience. We would not want everything we write to be judged.
There are lots of good threads on this website about six traits and 4blocks. There are also some good book recommendations.
1. focus on only 1 or 2 concepts per writing piece (description, grammar, mechanics, fig language, organization...) and look for that when you score (and you can always make note of the major items that are glaringly obvious and unacceptable, ie: lowercase i, lack of paragraph indentation, run-ons...)
2. create a rubric--i use our school district's Direct Writing Assessment scoring rubric to score all my expository essays. (it's NS--no score for not an essay, illegible, not enough writing to score; 1--oops can't remember the term; 2--developing; 3--satisfactory; 4--proficient; 5--advanced) the 3 areas being looked at (in order of importance): organization, style, mechanics. then there are descriptors for each score. it's a wholistic scoring system; i read the essay and give a quick score--students have been "trained" in how to score and what i'm looking for and what each score represents.
Tia hit the nail on the head when she said pick just one or two aspects to grade. Also a rubric will help.
When I grade a full-on writing process piece, I spend a long time on prewriting with a graphic organizer of some type. I walk around the room and give a grade for completion. You can tell how much effort goes into the activity and conference with students briefly as you make rounds. I usually give a checkmark-equals-100 grade for these if the kid puts effort into the prewriting process. I give 85 or 70 for lesser efforts.
The next step is 1st draft, and I emphasize the draft needs to be double-spaced and of a specific length (2 pages, or 3 paragraphs or whatever). Again I make rounds and give the same kind of grades for the effort.
Revising usually involves some mini-lessons on strong verbs, slotting, expanding, sentence combining, etc. I use overheads to teach the technique or a play or some other (hopefully) engaging approach to the minilesson and expect the students to make the revision strategy in at least 3 places. I usually teach/reteach 2-3 strategies per piece. I might make rounds again to have students show me their revisions, but not always at this stage.
Kids need to re-read the draft about now. I have some PVC tube-phones that kids use to read the drafts to themselves with a pencil in hand to make any changes.
The dreaded editing is next. I like to give students a check-off sheet to accomplish this. Scholastic publishes a book called Great Genre Writing Lessons that has some good check-off sheets. With a red pen, students must place a dot under every capital letter to ensure they capitalize correctly, circle 3 or more words with questionable spelling, draw a box around all end punctuation, etc. I might circulate and give a grade for editing. I just look to see that the paper has a lot of red on it. Getting a peer to read it is also effective to get the editing done.
By the time the kids write the final draft, I'm pretty familiar with all the pieces. If I get on the grading ASAP, it goes a lot faster than if I dread it and put it off and allow the papers to get cold. I have to admit I usually don't read whole papers--just the first paragraph or two and maybe the ending. I create rubrics using Rubistar on the internet.
Writing process papers takes at least 3 days for me. The sooner you start grading the better. It might help to stagger the classes so you only get 25 papers versus 100.
I would suggest your school purchase Accelerated Writer. The program teaches three different modes of writing: narrative, informative, and persuasive. Each mode has 10 traits. Some of them are clear focus, vivid images, and logical order.
Students are taught the modes and traits in a very structured and sequential way. They revise weak samples and write their own pieces. Then students evaluate each other on scan cards. The cards are placed in the scanner and the computer will give you print out on each child.
The program is very expensive, but we purchased under Title II funding because we have many title 1 students.
Check it out. I can't see grading 101 papers. That's ridiculous.
Next time try staggering the assignment... each class period will have the same assignment due about a week apart. This way you will have about 20 papers to read/grade per week. BTW I have done the same thing this year, I went from 1st grade to 6th/7th English. So far I love it. A great resource is "Teacher's Time Management Survival Kit" by Mamchak & Mamchak published by Prentice-Hall, Inc.
I use a rubric that I can download from the internet. Or just create your won rubric. Try focusing on one or two aspects of writing at a time. Is it grammar, mechanics, or compositions. Take one day at a time, it will get easier.