The Giant Time Suck……Writing
Type of technology: Website
SAMR Model Rating: Augmentation
Grade level: All
Subject area: Science, Math, Social Studies, English
Cost: Depends on Turnitin.com costs
With new California State assessments upon us, all teachers need to help students with their writing. However, maybe you and I have had a similar experience. I tried to help students with writing in science but grading papers takes forever. In many a late night grading sessions, I sit wondering why I torture myself and really wondering if I have even helped the students become better writers. Sound familiar? Not this year! I took a new approach to writing papers that has DRASTICALLY reduced the torture of grading papers and I am certain that the students are at the very least improving in their writing for me. How I accomplished such a reduction in the time and perils of grading is the purpose of this blog.
Step One– From the start of the year I teach the students proper use of pronouns. No technology here, but once students stop using “it” every sentence I am able to make sense of what they are trying to tell me.
Step Two– I have my students fill out the basic framework of an essay in the form of a graphic organizer. I like something which looks like the image to the right. There are many different versions on line.Try using Google Classroom to give the assignment so that you and the student have a copy of the completed organizer. By looking at the “completed” organizer in the student work section of Google Classroom, I was easily able to identify those students who were not ready to write and I could spend extra time with them. The graphic organizer is a critical step to reducing the amount of time you will spend grading as the student work will flow nicely and their claims should be backed with support.
Step Three– Use Turnitin.com on NEO. This year was the first time I tried Turnitin.com and I LOVE IT!! What a huge time saving device for teachers who grade written work. There are 3 main reasons that Turnitin saved me time. A) With 5 classes of Biology, I used to spend a couple hours of time looking for plagiarism. Turnitin does that work for you. Two hours saved. B) I feel a need to help students with their grammar so I used to spend hours writing feedback on their papers. An English teacher colleague of mine pointed out that the students usually don’t look at those comments so why waste my time. If we give students a chance to improve and resubmit papers, then the comments are helpful. The Beta version of Turnitin takes care of the grammar and spelling corrections for us by highlighting in purple the errors (see below). Again, hours of time saved. C) I use a rubric which Turnitin links to NEO (awesome), but I also want students to have specific reasons as to why or where they lost points. You guessed it….that was hours of time right there. Once again, Turnitin had the solution for me. As I am grading the first few assignments I find common mistakes. I can then turn my comments on mistakes into a “quick mark” (see pic below) which I can apply to future papers I am grading. After the first 15 papers I found I had no new comments to make so from that point forward I used all quick marks.
In the end, I would say that I am able to grade papers three times as fast as before. I still dislike grading, but I feel much more justified that the time I am putting into helping my students is worth it. For a tutorial on how to use Turnitin, please see the blog post by clicking here.