Responding to Student Writing

This section provides guidelines for responding helpfully to student an overview of how to respond to a student’s writing, suggests strategies for giving constructive feedback, and evaluates specific types of comments. By using these tips and strategies, you will be able to help students revise their drafts in ways that meet your expectations.

Premise: When assigned formal, graded writing, students need clear, written criteria for success. Once these criteria are clear, they form the basis for response and revision.

Premise: To respond to in-progress writing is to intervene in the writer's process. Such intervention should help the process move forward and should give the writer clearer notions of both what to revise and how to revise. Thus, responding is something quite different from grading. The best response writers can receive is that which will make them want to keep writing.

Premise: Our educational culture is so preoccupied with error that we need to, in the words of Donald Daiker, "go back to school" and learn how to praise. Showing students what they do well and explaining how their writing succeeds will help them improve as writers more effectively than what they do poorly and correcting their mistakes.*

*Donald A. Daiker, “Learning to Praise,” Writing and Response: Theory, Practice, and Research, ed. Chris M. Anson, Urbana, IL: NCTE, 1989: 103-13, Print.