Paper grading is the bane of most homeschooling parents. In the midst of our thirteenth year of home education, my grading basket is always overflowing each Friday, patiently waiting for me to tackle its contents before Monday rolls around and our school resumes. And I’m someone who loves to grade. But if grading isn’t your thing, that ever-leaning pile can seem taller than Kilimanjaro … and much more dangerous to conquer.
It’s one thing to mark spelling tests, to grade math quizzes, to correct Spanish exams, to check history and science homework. Tedious, yes, but that lovely key provided by the publisher makes the job do-able, if not the high point of the day. But what do you do when there is NO KEY?
Grading our children’s writing is like that: there is NO KEY to grading a personal essay or a five-paragraph paper or an MLA research report.
Panic sets in. What if something important gets missed? Is that a comma splice or a fragment? Does an apostrophe belong here? Was this idea developed adequately or is one more example necessary? What should an effective introduction do, and how does one write a narrative hook?
Sometimes a sentence just doesn’t seem right but figuring out precisely what isn’t working is difficult for you to pinpoint, much less explain to a student already in tears over your corrections in red pen. Your child is wounded; you are frustrated. “This is not the way to encourage her love of writing,” you think. “This isn’t working.”
So what is “good writing”?
We know it when we see it. We can admire a beautiful turn of phrase, value an excellent example, and appreciate a strong conclusion. But how are you to get the scrambled sentences your eighth grader insists are “All I can do, Mom” from merely “okay” writing to clear, concise, even powerful writing is a task that seems well-nigh impossible for many homeschooling parents.
I can help.
I have been happily grading papers since seventh grade when I volunteered in a fourth grade class. Grading essays requires years of “getting the feel” for what works in writing and what doesn’t, and I started seriously working with student essays during my college years when I volunteered to grade essays–for FREE. After graduate school, I was employed by my former university, teaching my first freshman composition courses with the assistance of a seasoned professor who took me under his wing and taught me how to provide accurate and helpful feedback to students.
In the nineteen years since I taught my first university class, I have worked on several books–proofreading, editing, revising–including the book I co-published with Dr. Elizabeth Walsh at USD, Light of Learning, a book that was published my first year of teaching at Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU), and, more recently, a new revision of the Book of Common Prayer with Fr. Keith Acker of Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity this summer/fall.
Currently I proofread for several organizations and recently proofread a Master’s thesis in the Modern Language Association (MLA) format. While teaching at PLNU, I instructed many classes in the MLA format for research papers, and in the years since then I have taught the MLA format to a dozen co-op classes. In Fall 2009 I taught my first online MLA course through Brave Writer, using the new Seventh Edition (2009) of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers and I taught The MLA Research Essay again in Fall 2010, so I am completely current with the latest citation formats. I am presently working on a downloadable book written directly to high school students on researching and writing the MLA Research Essay; I hope to have it ready for spring publication.
Speaking of Brave Writer, I have worked for Julie Bogart, founder and owner of Brave Writer since 2003, teaching online courses and composing some of her various monthly subscriptions. If you are looking for online writing classes, I can’t think of a more complete language arts resource or a more positive, helpful experience in developing assured, competent writers than Brave Writer.
So here’s the thing:
If you assign essays to your junior high or high school students and aren’t sure how to encourage your children in what they have done well and how to help them improve in what doesn’t work well, I can help.
Simply e-mail your children’s papers to me as a Word doc attachment, and I will e-mail them back within three school days with comments, corrections, and suggestions. See below under “The Nitty Gritty Details” for information on submitting your students’ work to me.
If you aren’t sure how to approach a writing assignment in your curriculum, I can tutor either you and/or your children via e-mail, helping to clarify the assignment and determine the strongest approach to gain a successful piece of writing.
If you or someone you know needs a document proofread, we can discuss the parameters of the project and go from there. I have proofread books, theses, and dissertations, along with various international correspondence.
My editing and writing skills are also at your disposal.
Samples of essays I have graded for co-op students and for families I assist via personal tutoring and via e-mail grading are available for your perusal on the “Sample Graded Essays” page under the header so you can get an idea of the services I can provide for you and your family.
So please e-mail me via “Contact Susanne” in the sidebar, and let’s work together to make writing a positive and wonderful experience!
On the journey with you,
The Nitty-Gritty Details:
Grading of late elementary, junior high, and high school essays: $5.00 per 12-point font or larger, double-spaced page and part thereof, unless otherwise agreed upon with families. Payment can be made via PayPal or mailed check.
Please clearly specify the assignment given to the student.
Essays to be graded are to be e-mailed as a Word attachment and will be returned within three school days unless otherwise specified. Use the Contact Susanne e-mail address in the sidebar to send essays.
My Grading Service includes:
•Evaluation of how well the essay fulfills the specified assignment
•Evaluation of grammar/spelling/punctuation usage
•Explanation of grammar/punctuation corrections
•Evaluation of diction (word choice) and sentence structure
•Suggestions for improvement of both usage and content
•Explanation of elements the student has accomplished well
•Encouragement for both students and parents
•Grade given according to A-F scale, as requested
And answering any follow-up questions you may have!