“Dad, read this and let me what you think,” my daughter lovingly slid her paper across to her father, as he bit into one of her chewy homemade chocolate chip cookies. “I think you will like it.”
“Like it? I love it,” he grinned.
“Really? What grade would you give it an A or a C?”
“Oh, this definitely an A paper”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course, I know an A paper when I see it.”
“Great, would you tell Mom she should give me an A?”
This conversation or a variation of this one has occurred in my home on more than one occasion or another. My kids have reached out to coop teachers, church members and even a grandparent to try to get me to change a grade. As a parent, it is challenging to grade your child’s papers, because judging writing is so subjective. In math or science, and history as well, there is a right answer—in fact, there is generally only one right answer. This is not the case with writing.
There are no absolutes in grading because there are so many elements of writing. Do we count the spelling errors and ignore content? On the other hand, how can we ignore grammatical mistakes that mar our understanding of content? We wrestle with how to properly assess our children’s writing. Clearly, a diagnostic tool is needed to measure writing skills objectively.
Objectivity can be obtained through rubrics. A rubric is a measurement of grading. Different rubrics are needed for different assignments because different skill sets are being assessed. For instance, when grading a journal assignment, you might check for sentence fluency and creative or critical thinking, depending on the type of journal, but you would not grade grammar or mechanics. Conversely, when grading a research paper, grammar and organization are key elements and must be graded. At the same time, it is not enough to grade just on one specific element. We also need to be able to measure improvement. Students want to improve their writing and a writing rubric helps our kids improve their writing.
A writing rubric can be used on a number of writing assignments, I actually grant my
homeschool students points for remembering to print their names on their papers. You would be surprised how many homeschool students forget to put their names on their papers. A rubric will help you objectify your grading process and it will help students improve their writing immensely. If your looking for examples, templates, or more information, check out my book "How to Grade Your Child's Writing: A Practical Guide for Homeschool Parents Grades 6-12."
Prof. Cheryl is a professor, author and homeschooling mom and the developer of the Young Author and College Prep Writing classes where through rigor , practice and targeted skill building, students develop their collegiate and creative writing skills. Visit www.Learn4college.com/about to learn more.
Overwhelmingly, time and time again, research has shown the ability to write well is key to overall college success. This is no surprise. After all, writing at its core is thinking on paper, and the ability to think and reason is what separates great students from mediocre performers. In my transition from high school teacher to college professor, I have noted five distinct differences in high school and college writing. By addressing these differences you can ensure a smoother transition to college level work because writing is needed for almost every class.
1) High school students write papers that are informative whereas college papers are explorative.
College students are expected to be embrace new concepts and expand upon those ideas in their papers. Most high school papers are generally informative. A high school teacher generally assigns students papers to check for their understanding. For instance, a high school teacher might ask a student to write a paper on the Civil War. The student is expected to regurgitate facts and ideologies discussed in class. A history professor, on the other hand, wants the student to discover new ideologies about the Civil War that were not discussed or explored in class. Furthermore, the student may be asked to research another war and note political, economic or other similarities to the Civil War.
2) High school students write general thesis statements, whereas college students are expected to form solid argumentative thesis statements.
In high school students wrote very general thesis statements, if they wrote them at all. Students might write: I am going to discuss the way Romeo and Juliet interacted with their families. However, a college thesis is much more specific and directive and really drives the paper. For instance, a college thesis might be: It will be proven that the friar's lack of religious influence caused the death of Romeo. The college thesis should be opinionated and it should be written in such a way that it could be challenged by someone with an opposing view.
3) High school students may surf the web and find sources to use in their paper
whereas college professors will only accept scholarly research sources.
In high school students Googled and used popular sources like magazines, websites and books in their papers. For the most part, if students did not plagiarize, these sources were accepted as authoritative. College writing, on the other hand, requires the use of scholarly sources. Scholarly sources are research references that are peer-reviewed or an articles or books from an academic publisher. A website has to meet certain criteria to be scholarly.
4) High school students were taught to write in a simple form, whereas college
writing requires more invention.
In high school most students were taught to write the typical five paragraph essay. This essay generally included an introduction, conclusion and three body paragraphs and each body paragraph elaborated on each point. This was the way most students prepared for the writing portion of the SAT. In College writing students are expected to write expansively and decipher each point, and the five paragraph essay just does not meet the standard.
5) High school students write papers using a loose form of MLA or generally no
form at all, whereas college professors require strict adherence to form.
Students should know how to cite in Modern Language Association (MLA), Association of Psychological (APA), Chicago, etc. The font should always be 12 point. The research within the paper should be cited a specific way.
These five areas, if addressed will help students to write well in college and beyond. Adult learners, especially those returning to school and those taking online classes, often struggle repeatedly with some of these issues. However, once students master these skills they quickly transform into strong students. All of these issues are addressed in Collegiate Learning's book, Write to Achieve and in our college preparatory literature and writing classes.
Prof. Cheryl is a professor, author and homeschooling mom and the developer of the Young Author and College Prep Writing classes where through rigor , practice and targeted skill building, students develop their collegiate and creative writing skills. Visit www.Learn4college.com
Does your student struggle with basic English writing skills such as letter, email, or business writing? I have developed a resource guide geared towards middle and high school students to fill in these gaps and prepare them for success as an adult—and it's free!
This eBook includes:
I am often approached by parents, whom have what they deem to be creative kids. These kids happily compose stellar stories, intriguing plays or heartfelt poems. Generally, but not always, these parents want me to help their kids develop strong story structure, clarify their clandestine ideas, or simply to provide what they deem as professional feedback on their kids’ creations. I enjoy working with such imaginative kids However, there is another group I also enjoy working with--the reluctant writer.
For some reason, if a child seems geared to technology, science, math, business or technology I am rarely contacted. Perhaps, parents believe writing skills are not required for such professions. However, writing is simply thinking on paper and all of us, no matter our age, can further develop our thinking skills. These professions need writing skills even more than ever because writing teaches students how to communicate better.
In fact, if I had the space and time, I could cite a number of studies that prove writing skills are just important as technology skills. In fact, they work in tandem. What good is it if you were to find the cure to cancer, but could not accurately convey your ideas to a generation of new doctors.
Teaching creative writing skills is just as important as teaching rudimentary persuasive and research writing skills. In fact, I know of a young man (a former student) that was went to a secular university and received an A on a creationism science paper, even though his professor was an adamant evolutionist, simply because he employed some creative writing and persuasive techniques I had taught him. Numerous studies show the link between creativity and problem
solving such that many universities are now requiring science,
engineering, technology and pre-med students to take creative writing
In my Creative Writing & Young Author classes workshop classes young writers of all skill levels thrive. STEM students carve exciting worlds, while the more literary inclined pupils make their words dance on the page. You can start your own classes and watch writers thrive. If you're looking for more insight, my book "Inspire the Writer in Your Child: The Writer’s Workshop Method to Teach Creative Writing" will guide you in the process.
Prof. Cheryl is a professor, author and homeschooling mom and the
developer of the Young Author and College Prep Writing classes where through rigor , practice and targeted skill building, students develop their collegiate and creative writing skills.