The September issue of Educational Leadership, a publication of ASCD, focused on aspects of feedback for learning with the central idea being that feedback must be specific and instructive and the student must have a chance to use that feedback to improve performance.
Those articles brought to mind a time when my daughter came home with a paper written for a Social Studies assignment. The teacher had returned her paper with a 93 at the top and a short (and uninformative) comment about one specific use of grammar. Given the lack of instructive feedback, what exactly does the grade mean in terms helping the student to improve skills?
Essay Tagger, created by a high school English teacher, is a tool that helps teachers create Common Core-aligned rubrics that can be used to annotate and provide specific, instructive feedback during the grading process to help students continually improve their skills.
Users with a free account are welcome to use EssayTagger to grade one assignment for up to 99 students. Once your free account is created, you’ll start by creating a rubric. Your rubric can make use of a standard format or you can choose to use the Common Core aligned rubric tool. A wizard will guide you through all the choices you’ll make to get this set up. This Common Core rubric will include choosing the standards by which you’d like to evaluate student work as well as specific elements. Later on in the setup process, you’ll decide whether you’ll evaluate these elements at the sentence, paragraph or document level. In addition to other “free” comments that you’ll be able to add aside from the rubric, this increases your ability to give students very specific feedback – an important factor in helping to improve skills.
Next, you’ll set up a course, then an assignment. One nice feature here is that you can choose to send students a copy of their graded and annotated essay via email. You should check your district’s policies about this first. If email isn’t an option, each graded paper is given a unique URL that students will use to review your comments. Assignments can be set up with a due date so you can keep track of on time submissions and you’ll decide on the maximum point value for the work. The assignment will be given an upload code that students will use when they go to the upload site. The format of the document can be .docx, .doc, .rtf or .txt.
When you grade a students’ essay, each of the standards you previously chose can be dragged to the portion of the text that displays the use of that skill. Choose the level of proficiency and add any additional comments. When the student reviews his/her graded paper, each of those comments will be viewable at the point in the text where it’s applicable.
In addition to “grades”, teachers will also be able to see how the class is doing overall according to the standards via the Data Reporting tool currently in beta. This will make it easier to determine the next steps to take in your classroom instruction.
Have you used EssayTagger? What are your thoughts about the tool for improving student achievement in your classroom?