Quality feedback, as I discuss here and here, helps correct mistakes, suggest areas for growth, and recognizes students’ strengths. Below is the prompt from the Fall 2013 Georgia High School Writing Test and two excerpts from a student paper. The rubric for the writing test is here, and covers four domains: ideas, organization, style, and conventions. However, my feedback targets the student’s use of transitions, phrases and clauses, and parallel structure since those are the key writing skills for my unit. Within the course, I would show similar screen shots to the whole class, so they can learn from others’ mistakes and strengths.
Below are the annotations offered by the GDOE for this essay, and although the whole essay exceeded standards, my quality feedback will help the writer continue to develop.
Annotations for Paper 10
Ideas Score: 4
The controlling idea (there should be a community service requirement for graduation) is well developed. Supporting ideas are relevant (students can gain an understanding of what they might want to do for a career, and students should develop an appreciation for how good their lives are). The writer develops these supporting ideas with specific examples, details and elaboration (e.g., “For example, a young lady may want to go to college to practice medicine. If she began community service by visiting hospitals and senior centers, it would help her decide if that was what she wanted to spend the rest of her life doing”). There are just a few spots where additional elaboration would address reader concerns (e.g., a more specific contrast between the privilege students enjoy and the needs of the people the students would serve). Overall, though, the writer is consistently focused on the persuasive topic and purpose.
Organization Score: 4
The writer demonstrates consistent control of the components of Organization. The introduction is clear and sets the stage for the development that follows. The writer groups related ideas about how community service can give students career insights and help students develop an appreciation for how good their lives are. Most of the ideas within body paragraphs build logically on one another (e.g., “Many people in our community believe that teenagers are worthless and do no good. It is a common belief that teenagers just like to have fun and party”). A variety of effective transitions link ideas within paragraphs (e.g., “If community service was required,” “For example,” and “Although this is true). A clearer transition between the body paragraphs would make the overall plan even more seamless. The conclusion is somewhat repetitive, but it provides clear closure.
Style Score: 4
Word choice is consistently engaging (e.g., “without ever lifting a finger to help those in need,” “Most of us don’t realize how fortunate we are to have food, good health, and a shelter over our heads,” and “Hopefully we would realize how lucky we are to be able to rake our own leaves and have a place to sleep”). This effective language leads to a distinctive voice. Sentences vary in length and structure. Lapses in control of language are infrequent (e.g., “Many are still pondering through their thoughts”). Overall, the writer demonstrates consistent control of the components of Style.
Conventions Score: 5
Simple, compound, and complex sentences are consistently clear and correct. Usage is consistently correct. The elements of mechanics are clear and correct with the exception of a few misspellings (e.g., “tendancy”). Overall, the writer demonstrates full command of the elements of Conventions.
Performance Level: Exceeds the Standard