Responding without Grading
One Teacher’s Experience
Keywords:Composition instruction, teacher response, student writing, grading
Much of the research on teacher response to student writing has focused on how teachers can best help their students improve their writing and, concomitantly, on the reactions teachers’ responses evoke in their students. What is largely absent as an object of study in this research is the teacher’s experience of the responding process and the effects which alternative methods of response have on the teacher’s role in the classroom. This article describes my attempts as a writing teacher to separate grading student writing from responding to student writing. Based on my observations during a modest pilot study, I suggest that the act of grading lies at the heart of the negative reactions teachers have when they respond to student writing and that eliminating grading has positive effects on the teacher’s response process, on classroom instruction, and on how teachers conceptualize their classroom role.
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