So Why the End Comments After Two Weeks, Then?

I’ve often read that endnotey and heavily annotated papers, returned to students after a week or two, aren’t terribly useful for improving student writing, and yet I see that that’s how many teachers seem to “grade” papers. That annotation work that the teacher “has” to do also is given as a reason why more writing doesn’t happen at school. It takes hours of time, time that’s often stolen not from the schedule of the school day, but the teacher’s family or home life.

I don’t get why we continue to think that’s the way it has to be.

In this morning’s WSJ, Doug Lemov has a piece on practice, plugging , and he writes this:

The anecdote suggests the many ways that instructors, in talking about practice, are just as likely to get things wrong as to get them right. Here, social science can help. Research has established that fast, simple feedback is almost always more effective at shaping behavior than is a more comprehensive response well after the fact. Better to whisper “Please use a more formal tone with clients, Steven” right away than to lecture Steven at length on the wherefores and whys the next morning.

I wonder how we might create structures for writing with students that are more about whispering alongside them rather than authoritatively annotating their written work after the fact. The more I use Google Docs for commenting and collaborative writing, the more I feel like that’s on the right track – but how do we change the perception that the teacher’s job is to scribble all over work after the student’s on to the next thing?

8 thoughts on “So Why the End Comments After Two Weeks, Then?

  1. I love that idea of whispering along side them. My struggle this year is to document the long conversations that sometimes need to happen with my struggling writers. We all know not everything needs to be graded, especially for those who don’t like to write in the first place. If they know it is graded, the walls go up, more simplistic vocabulary comes through because they are afraid of making a mistake. You have given me something to think about in regards to whispering along side them… I currently use Edmodo to turn in work, and you can annotate on that as well. I think I will have them post more often, so I can get to the 100+ writers I see everyday more frequently.
    writin4change´s last blog post ..Finding Time to Write: What distracts and inspires?

  2. Your blog post reaffirmed and reminded me about how important conferring with students can be. I am a huge proponent of the workshop approach to teaching writing, even though it hasn’t quite taken off in high school, but I think there is just so much potential there. Conferring is all about giving students that “in the moment” feedback so that they can continue to grow as a writer. Thanks, Bud, for posting this!
    Nicole´s last blog post ..The Genre That Isn’t

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