Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Assessment of student's writing

My first assesment of Form 2 writing began today. Yesterday, I taught 2 Ibnu Qayyim writing. They were first introduced to a simple structure of an essay: introduction, body (main ideas and supporting details) and conclusion. The title of the essay was discussed and sample introduction techniques were shown. For example, the use of a quotation, saying or idiom and the use of a dialogue. 23/26 students used a saying but three souls were brave enough to use a dialogue as an introduction. I finished marking their first compositions today and gave them back to the class monitor, Nazim. Generally, the compositions were of the 'timetable' type...something they have learned in primary school. This is how I usually assess compositions. It may not be your cup of tea but sharing enriches our experience :)

Sample 1

Sample 2

I use symbols for marking because it helps my students understand the types of mistakes they make. But first you must explain the symbols to the class. I underline the error first and write the symbol on the left margin. For instance:

t      = tense
vb   = verb
v     = vocabulary
sp   = spelling
p    = preposition
wo = word order

Yes, it can be tedious but here's a piece of advice - don't use too many, just focus on the most important grammar points. You're welcome to share how you assess your students compositions. It would be a great way to improve our professional development. Teachers must talk about what they do in the classrooms to learn from each other. After all, there's no one perfect way to assess your students' written work. There are many types of errors and it's really impossible to mark them all but some are more gross than others so you can focus on those.

The Thinking Teacher


  1. I will do like this technique if I have ample time. But, normally I just underline their errors.

  2. Sharing of marking techniques ... hahaha.. I wonder how many have been open about this with you, Rahmah. From my experience, it's not something other teachers like to talk about.

    I was lucky to have a great mentor who taught me a similar way of marking essays. She's one of the JUSA C ladies I referred to before ;) And when I marked SPM essays, another great mentor (Jayapushani IPIK) expanded on those skills. I'll just add on to what you have shared.

    Jaya insisted on the use of single lines for minor errors and double wavy lines of major errors. A page full of double lines would give me a very good idea of the essay's mark.

    Bubbles were also used to identify high tariff words, which would help justify the essay being given a better mark than what it would get at first impression. I would rewrite those words or phrases at the bottom of the mark I gave as evidence.

    And I would ALWAYS have a positive comment to make at the end, even if it's just 'Good ideas presented here.' At the very least, the student would be encouraged to work on his presentation (grammar + sentence structure + paragraphing) so as to frame his GOOD IDEAS better.

  3. daddy zuki,
    you've been mia!! hope you're good. yes i understand it's tedious that's why i recommend focussing on the main errors you want polished :)thanks

  4. roslynn,
    pn jaya used to be the chief for spm english shen i was a team leader..yes, i underline the gross errors with a straight line and the minor errors with a squiggly line too. the bubbles is a good idea to highlight good vocabulary. and yes, with school work i think we need to be 'friendlier' and add comments to encourage ss as you mentioned.the main thing to remember is no to go hunting for errors alone but to acknowledge merit where merit is due.. i hope others will not be shy to offer their opinions. learning is on-going!

  5. Assalamualaikum Puan Rahmah,
    I normally mark my students' essays using the traditional, painstaking way.. Here's a technique that I plan to try:

    a few months b4 final year exam/pmr, i'll get students to elaborate & write each paragraph on a mahjong paper in groups, each group will display their mahjong paper on the board, get students to check & correct the other groups' writing in an activity called 'gallery walk' - ss walk from one mahjong to the other like walking in a picture gallery. ss may give constructive comments on their friends' writing. Then, T checks all groups' writing & gives comments. Finally, ss write the corrected essay.

  6. thanks nuha. yes, that's a great idea. it will be much more meaningful if you provide the groups with clear guidelines on what to look for when they move from one station to another. this gives them a sense of purpose on what to look for. for example, paragraphing, grammar, spelling

  7. Assalamualaikum Pn. Rahmah,

    I love reading your entries. Interesting indeed. I need help in marking Summary for SPM level since this is my first time ever teaching form 4. I've been teaching form 3 for the past 9 years, so there's not much problem compared to F4. I just need to know the dos and the donts of marking Summary. thanks.


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