Keys to Scoring Conventions Well

Slice of Life2I am participating in #SOL19. Thanks to the twowritingteachersblog team for sponsoring this wonderful event!

When you are reading a student’s written work, try to focus on the writing task and the qualities of writing that include the development of ideas, a sharp focus, a meaningful organization, precise language, voice, and sentence fluency. While grammar and conventions are important, our first read should be about the content – the message being communicated – the inside story that only the writer knows and is now sharing with you.  Place mechanics on the back burner until the second read – unless the writing cannot be understood because punctuation is totally absent and/or sentences are run ons and fragments that make it impossible to read without stumbling badly.

When we score conventions, emphasis should be on readability.

  • Conventions should support and enhance the message.
  • Look beyond spelling. Writers can have other conventional strengths even though they may struggle with spelling.
  • Look for what the student can do – not just what he cannot do.
  • Do not overreact. Two or three mistakes cannot spoil the entire performance.
  • Neatness and handwriting should not be considered when scoring the conventions of your own students. These things are separate issues.
  • Think of yourself as a copyeditor. Ask, “How much work would I need to do to prepare this text for publication? Heavy editing?  Moderate? Very light?

Try not to approach editing skills from a deficit model.  Correcting everything will not help your students. Decide what is most important for students to learn at a given point in time. Remember that too many negatives add up to zero. Nothing is gained. During conferences, give students one suggestion to improve in the area of ideas, organization, or style. Then give one suggestion to help them improve in grammar and conventions. Set a goal with your students that challenges them but is doable for them.

What would you add to this list?  Is there a point(s) you would remove?