One of the wonderful things about marking essays that I’m required NOT to return to students is that I don’t need to make extensive notes. I do tend to make a list of notes at the end — in almost unreadable hand, except that I can read it — about what’s good and bad in the essay, but I don’t have to be highly consistent in marking errors of those types throughout the essay. Mark a few, and then just note them.
The class is on a ranked grading curve anyway, and participation in a writing class is mostly hard to gauge (and less important than in a conversation or public speaking class or something like that) so there’s no point in marking everyone leniently on their essays — it makes more sense to rank them and observe the curve on the final essays, at least roughly. This makes it much less painful to assign a grade later, and in fact, I find that a lot of the time my students (in my night classes, anyway) actually match the curve reasonably well. It’s very rare that I feel more than 30% of students should get an A, or that more than 30% of students should get C or below.
In any case, a surprising number of students — 3 out of 22 — failed to turn in their final essays this semester in my evening composition class. This is pretty sad, considering that all I asked for was some research and expansion of their midterm essays. I’m pretty sure one of them is going to claim he didn’t know he was supposed to hand this in, even though it was announced many times in his presence. The other two young women seem to have burned out toward the end of semester; one also failed another class today by not showing up for her final exam… after I gave her a second chance when she skipped the midterm. Some students, I just don’t understand.
Anyway, I have to say that one of my students, who is terminally bad at writing, has made some serious improvements in the last semester. I mean to say that she’s developed some public speaking skills, and even her writing is borderline comprehensible most of the time. Not only that, she’s one of the only students I know who is deeply, continually concerned academically with social issues, openly introspective, and passionate about poverty, social inequality, and the rights of the disabled and other underpriviledged members of her society. She is a student a really respect and enjoying teaching.
But that won’t prevent me from posting a beautiful gaffe from her essay. From a section discussion possible content for a government campaign promoting healthy family relationships:
“Family should eat together every fright day.”
(I think she meant every night day, meaning, eat dinner together daily. But it is a cute gaffe, in that the sentence would probably provoke the opposite reaction in anyone who encountered it.)