I am in the midst of grading the first major essays my ninth graders have written this year, and each time, I am reminded (and discouraged) by how complex grading is in writing. There’s sentence-level errors in grammar and typing to detect, as well as sophistication of syntax to note. A teacher must examine the argument developed and the overall execution of this argument, including global organization as well as organization at the paragraph level, including transitions from one idea to the next and one sentence to the next. Next, that teacher must identify and evaluate the evidence a student has used in support of that argument, including proper selection, usage and citation of that evidence, which must be correctly and smoothly integrated into the student’s sentences. Are the points made in clear and specific language? Does the student understand how to craft a correct sentence? Does the argument address the task at hand and show the student’s comprehension of the material? Finally, does the writer actual construct an argument, or does she rely too heavily on summary and facts?
I don’t mind saying that it’s mentally demanding, as well as exhausting, to comprehensively assess each of these elements in comments that both illuminate and advise the student on these issues in ways that are rigorous yet supportive.
Simply put: I’m in grading jail, and it’s sapping my energy.