Oct 30 2013

Helton and Sommers – Worksheet

Published by under Reading Responses

1.) What are some problems with assigning letter grades to writing assignments, particularly drafts?

If students get a good/passable grade, often they won’t devote effort into making the draft better. Even if they get a bad grade, it doesn’t tell them much about where their draft is at.

2.)  Why do Helton & Sommers want to use an “E” “M” “L” grading system, and what do these letters mean?

Helton and Sommers want to use an E, M, L grading system so that students won’t feel pressured by the finality of a grade, and instead, are able to assess where their draft is at and how much more time they should devote to revision. The letters stand for Early, Middle and Late.

3.)  How do  you think using E/M/L markings as both a peer reviewer, and on your own work would change your approach to revision and work ethic?

As a peer reviewer, it would let me tell people how much more time they should spend on the draft without saying “you need a lot more work on this” or, “you don’t need to put a lot more work into this”. E, M, L allows the other writer to determine how much more work they need to do based on my other, more substantive comments. For my own work, it would be helpful for the drafts that I turn in in writing classes, since sometimes just comments are not enough to determine the overall state of the draft. I’d love to see this used more in classes where drafts are required.

4.)  How did students in the classroom feel about this grading system, and do you think you’d feel the same way?  Would you prefer this system to A/B/C? Why or why not?

Some students liked it, and some didn’t. All thought it was helpful, but most wanted to see their grades as well. This kind of defeats the purpose of draft in many writing classes. For a final paper, however, I think it would be helpful to have a double marking – i.e. a paper earns a grade of B-, and a professor marks on the paper that it is a middle stage draft. Even though the student wouldn’t necessarily revise the paper again, using E/M/L in conjunction with A/B/C would help students as they write future papers (given that they actually read the feedback on returned, final papers).

5.)  What do you think of the authors’ system for converting E/M/L grades into A/B/C grades in the final portfolios?

I like their system a lot, and I could see this guideline – were it distributed to the class in the syllabus – being an effective way of using E/M/L in a way that would satisfy the grade-focused students in class.

6.)  Would you say your work for this class has tilted toward one stage in the drafting process (E, M or L)?  What stage is least represented in your portfolio so far (name specific assignments on your blog in various stages)?

Thus far, most of my work for EN 301 is somewhere between Middle and Late. Early is least represented, probably the best essay example of this is my 1st draft of Autobiography as a Haiku, which is focused on brainstorming about writing topics.

7.) What would be a strategy to use all 3 phases of the process in Essay 5: My Turn?

I could do a brainstorming draft as Early, flesh out my ideas in Middle, and fine-tune my argument/wording in Late.

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