Rule of Thumb

Grading is a complicated topic, and it's not my purpose—in this lesson—to explain all the ways that I'll be grading your work. Instead, I simply want to tell you about the rule of thumb (general principle) that I often use when grading written work.

For example, let's imagine that I've asked you to write about your favorite food.

Erica writes . . .

Doug writes . . .

My favorite food is pizza. I like pepperoni pizza the best.

I love pizza. My family eats pizza at least once a week. Sometimes we go to our neighborhood pizza restaurant, but often we'll make it at home.

11 words = 1.1 points 27 words = 2.7 points


Of course, quality is also important. So, for instance, let's imagine that Doug's answer is riddled with careless errors. In that case, I would probably give him "1/2 points", which means he might get 1 or 2 points, instead of 2.7.

Likewise, let's imagine that Erica has only written two sentences—but they are the most beautifully crafted sentences that I've read in my whole life. In that case, I might give Erica 2 or 3 points, instead of just one.

Of course, it's more complicated than that.

Counting words is a starting point—it's where I start to determine your grade. But then I consider other factors, such as the qualitiy of your writing, and especially, I'm looking for two things:

    1. Did you proofread your work?
    2. Did you follow the instructions?

Proofreading Your Work

As I've already mentioned, more than 90% of the mistakes that I see at the 7th grade level are "stupid mistakes" or "careless errors." By that, I mean things like forgetting to put a period at the end of a sentence.

Of course, in a 5-page paper, I expect to see a few typos. That's both understandable and forgivable. But if you've written three sentences, and each of those sentences has one or more careless mistakes—there's just no excuse for that. You need to learn to proofread your work, or at least to ask for help before you click the submit button.

Following the Instructions

Following instructions is also extremely important. If, for example, I give you a lesson on the difference between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person narrators, and then I ask you to write a story from a 1st person point of view, but instead you write a story from a 3rd person point of view, I'm not going to be impressed—no matter how many words your write!

How could I possibly justify giving you full points? You have not proven to me that you have understood the lesson. In such a case, I would certainly grade you down, giving you half points, at best.

Instructions for the Quiz

Answer the questions.