Looking for an Easy, Objective Way to Grade Student Writing? (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

I don’t like to assign grades. I think that they can sometimes be vague and meaningless. And there are many other methods that I think are more descriptive and meaningful when it comes to evaluating kids’ work. However, now that my children are reaching their high school years, I find it necessary to assign grades to their work. In some classes I can do this by just giving quizzes and tests and coming up with a numerical grade. But I find it very difficult to grade writing assignments.

Review of Writing With Sharon Watson

Grading writing can turn into a very subjective evaluation. And it’s often hard to communicate to the kids what, exactly, makes “good” writing and how I came up with the grade I gave them. I was very excited to find that my recent Crew review product solves my writing evaluation problems. I received 21 Grading Grids for Popular High School Essays and a Position Paper from Writing With Sharon Watson. This is a digital download.

Writing With Sharon Watson

Sharon Watson was a homeschooling mom, and she’s developed her writing and literature courses so that homeschoolers have quality resources for teaching those subjects without having to outsource everything. Her curriculum is from a distinctly Christian worldview- which I especially love when it comes to persuasive writing and literature analysis and discussion.

A couple of years ago, the Review Crew had the opportunity to review some curriculum from Writing With Sharon Watson. Although I wasn’t on that review, I spent time researching the publisher and reading the Crew reviews. I also signed up for the weekly newsletter. I’ve been very impressed by the resources available and by the great information in the newsletter- including writing prompts. I was so impressed by the reviews I’ve read and the resources that I’ve seen that I decided to use some of Sharon Watson’s curriculum for a high school co-op class that I’m teaching in the fall.

Review of Writing With Sharon Watson

21 Grading Grids for Popular High School Essays and a Position Paper

The 21 Grading Grids resource is designed to give a framework for grading high school writing. It consists of 21 rubrics to grade a variety of essays and literature analysis papers.

Grids for grading high school writing

The idea is that the parent/teacher can show the rubric to the student prior to writing the paper. The rubric will let the student know exactly what is expected in the writing assignment. The teacher can then take the assignment and give the appropriate number of points for each section of the rubric.

It’s a way to come up with a grade that is actually objective and meaningful. It’s also a way to teach students the elements that their essays and papers should include so that they will get in the habit of adding these elements.

Using the Grading Grids

When I first opened up the 21 Grading Grids download and began looking over the grids to see which would be the best to use with some of the current writing assignments I have from my older kids, I caught this paragraph.

Writing with Sharon Watson

Right away I felt as if this resource resonated with what I think about grading and evaluating student progress.

Because this is a digital download, you could choose to print the whole thing out at once, or you can print the grids as needed. This is what I decided to do. I know there will be some I’ll use more often than others, so my plan is just to print off a grid and give it to the student before each writing assignment. This will let them know exactly what I’ll be looking for in that writing assignment. Then they can give me back the blank grid along with their writing assignment, and I can use it for grading.

One of the essays I looked at as I began using the grading grids was a paper my daughter had written. Her assignment was to write as an American at the beginning of the Revolutionary War about which side she was supporting and why. I used the Persuasive Essay: Specific Audience for grading this assignment.

Grading high school composition

There are two sections to each grid- a content section and a grammar/mechanics section. The total possible points in the grammar section is 100. Most of the content sections on the rubrics have a extra credit section that brings the possible points to over 100. I like this because it can help students earn back points lost for minor grammatical or mechanics errors. It also rewards creative thinking on the part of the student.

I was glad to find a rubric for Literary Analysis of a Classic. This seems to be a type of writing that the kids do more and more in their high school classes. I love to analyze and discuss literature, so this is one of my favorite types of writing. I used this grid to grade an essay my daughter did about The Scarlett Letter. It was a good way of ensuring that she not only could think critically about the book but that she could include required elements that are likely going to be part of a college level literary analysis.

Homeschool writing course

There are many things I really like about the 21 Grading Grids.

  • They make grading writing objective instead of subjective.
  • There are a good variety of grids for many kinds of writing kids should become familiar with in high school.
  • I like that content and grammar/mechanics are given two separate grades. I think there’s nothing so discouraging to a student as to have written a paper that is very creative and that displays critical thinking but to get a low grade on the paper because of grammar/mechanics mistakes. Having separate sections teaches students to learn the needed grammar and mechanics but also encourages the creativity and critical thinking.
  • The points system on the grading grids make it easy to come up with a numerical grade. This is what I need in order to come up with numerical grade for the high school transcript at the end of the year. With these grids, I’m not just throwing out a number that I think reflects the work done on the paper. Instead I have an objective reasoning for the number grade I assigned.
Grading rubrics for high school composition
I intend to continue to use the 21 Grading Grids for my high school students as we head into our regular school year.

You can read what other Crew members thought about the grading grids and one of Sharon Watson’s writing courses by clicking the banner below.

Writing with Sharon Watson Review

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