We do a lot of writing in my classes. At this level, we are hammering how to organize their essays: topic sentence, detail sentences (or paragraphs) and conclusion sentences (or paragraphs).
It’s not enough to TELL them that they must do those things, you must show that their grade is related to whether or not they have met those goals.
Here’s the rub: it’s hardly worth my time to seriously mark up the final version. If they haven’t followed the lesson, haven’t taken my “walking around the room” advice, haven’t followed the mark-ups on the edited version, why spend the time to rehash? They just aren’t going to do it!
I have to agree with the following from the Prone to Laughter blog :”A current grading technique (and I don’t know why it took me years to come up with this) is to underline everything important. The thesis, a key piece of analysis, a topic sentence that clearly states the heart of the paragraph. The advantage here is that it creates a strong impression that I’ve read and commented upon the paper, without actually requiring much effort from me. Though I don’t know why I scribble on final essays anyhow. Circling typos is also useful for this.”
It takes a lot of time to grade writing, but good teachers give a lot of writing work and grade it anyway! My inspiration this year has been the honors English teacher of my own children who goes above and beyond in her teaching of writing.
When I’m ready to give up, I think of her. I really should mention this to her, but I’ll wait until they no longer have her as a teacher so it doesn’t look like I’m brown-nosing.
Here’s the bottom line (putting on teacher hat for wrap-up here): before they turn in the paper, I have the student underline their topic sentence, conclusion sentence. That saves me some effort and time on my part to go hunting for these things. I can quickly scan whether they have mentioned what the body of their essay will cover. In addition, it holds them accountable for what they were told to do.