Responding to Student Writing: Low Stakes Homework and Partial Drafts Presentation Notes

Alexander, Mary
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Honolulu: 2017 UH First-Year Writing Symposium
Last semester, I discovered two techniques that are revolutionizing my teaching. The first technique is that of requiring students to write informal, one-page responses to all readings in a given unit.  Each unit is comprised of six to ten texts read over a period of several weeks.  By reading and responding to these low-stakes pieces of homework--a total of five to six pages for each unit-- I can spot student challenges, such as reading comprehension problems or grammar needs, and can start helping students address them as soon as Week 1.  In addition, this low-stakes writing functions as a kind of “warm-up” for students.  Somehow, their writing seems to improve on its own over the first few weeks before any formal essays are due! Instead of having students submit an entire essay, I break essays into parts, and ask students to submit one part at a time as homework. I then respond to each part as described above.  This allows me another opportunity to address student challenges before high-stakes essays are due, and also allows me to tailor class content to class needs, using examples from their own homework. Although these methods may seem time-consuming, I can respond to homework and partial drafts fairly quickly on an easy-to-use platform like Google classroom, and by the time I get those final essays on Turnitin, my work is largely done.
This talk was presented as part of Breakout Session 1 | Panel 2: "Critical Reading for the FYW Classroom." These are the speaking notes from the talk.
Hybrid Instruction, Online Respons, Feedback, Interaction
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