How to Save Time Grading Essays

Canned Essay e-Comments

Essay e-Comments

Good teachers learn to work smarter not harder. We also learn how to prioritize our time, especially in terms of managing the paper load. Most of us would agree that we need to focus more of our time on planning and teaching, rather than on correcting. Here’s one resource to help you save time grading essays, while providing better essay response.

No, this is not an automatic grading program. If you’ve tried a few of these, you already have learned that while computers may do a nice job driving our cars, they don’t do as well grading student essays. Instead, the essay e-comments app is simply a “canned” comment bank which teachers use “as is” or choose to modify to stop wasting time writing the same comments over and over again. Plus, instead of just identifying the writing issue, each Essay e-Comment teaches students how to revise the problem.

If you’re committed to providing detailed comments to help your students improve their writing, but find yourself spending more than five minutes per essay, this app’s for you!

Here’s How the Essay e-Comments App Works

Download the FREE Essay e-Comments App (provided at the end of this article) to automatically add the 438 formatted comments to your Microsoft Word® Autocorrects. Sorry, Mac users, this app won’t work for you. Students write their essays in Microsoft Word® or in Google Docs and share to your Google Drive. Next, batch convert the essays to Word Docs to use the Essay e-Comments and then upload back into Google Docs for students to revise. The Essay e-Comments appear in the Google Docs comment bubbles perfectly formatted (except for the color) and can even include links. It’s easy and takes only seconds to do. Need help? This video shows you how.

Let’s See an Example

Let’s say you’ve been encouraging your students to use more vivid verbs in their writing. Your students are using too many “to be” verbs, so you’ve been teaching them How to Eliminate “To Be” Verbs in Writing. In Tommy’s essay, he uses eight “to be” verbs in one short paragraph. Yikes! Simply highlight a section of Tommy’s text, right click to “New Comment”, type in e80. That’s the alphanumeric code for this comment. Look at what automatically pops up into a comment bubble in the margin or the reviewing pane if you prefer:

Revise: Too Many “to-be” Verbs Consider limiting use of is, am, are, was, were, be, being, been to one per paragraph. To replace “to be verbs” 1. Substitute a more active verb or 2. Begin the sentence with another word from the sentence or 3. Change one of the words in the sentence into a verb form.

Notice how the comment both identifies the problem and provides suggestions for the solution. Now that’s effective essay response!

I’ve developed 438 of these e-comments for these categories of essay response: 1. Essay Organization and Development (Introduction, Body, and Conclusion) 2. Coherence, Word Choice, Sentence Variety, and Writing Style 3. Format and Citations 4. Sentence Structure and Types of Sentences 5. Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics 6. Conventional Spelling Rules.

Can I Add My Own Comments (and Links) to the Essay e-Comments Bank?

Absolutely. You can also revise my comments to use the essay terms you prefer. Here’s how: How to Add in e-Comments to Microsoft Word Autocorrects. Each Autocorrects entry accepts a maximum of 255 characters if you type them in; however, if you copy and paste comments (including links ) and click “Formatted text” radio button, you can exceed that limit.

Before You Download the FREE Essay e-Comments App

  1. Windows Defender may pop up with a scary warning not to proceed. Click “More Info” and “Run Anyway.” The file has no viruses; it simply adds to your Microsoft Word® Autocorrects. Also, your school network settings may block your access. If so, you have two options: Download the app on your personal PC desktop or laptop or cut and paste the Essay e-Comments into Microsoft Word® Autocorrects on your school computer. I’ve done both to cope with my school district’s administrative network settings. It takes about an hour to cut and paste in all 438 comments. Yes, I’m an ELA teacher just like you! Important to note because the comments include the language of instruction found in the Common Core State Standards…

    Pennington Publishing's Teaching Essay Strategies

    Teaching Essay Strategies

  2. If you want the resource links and lessons which connect to these Essay e-Comments, purchase my comprehensive Teaching Essay Strategies program. The program includes 42 essay strategy worksheets, 8 on-demand writing fluencies, 8 writing process essays (4 Common Core State Standard informative/explanatory and 4 Common Core State Standard persuasive), 64  sentence revision and 64 rhetorical stance “openers,” remedial writing lessons, writing posters, editing resources, and, of course, the Essay e-Comments App.

    Essay e-Comments

    The Pennington Manual of Style

  3. If you don’t need the resource links and lessons, but want the full version of all 438 Essay e-Comments and the Quick Reference Guide (also included in Teaching Essay Strategies) to be able to copy and paste, as well as revise with your own essay terminology, purchase The Pennington Manual of Style.
  4. If you don’t want to purchase either program, you should download the Quick Reference Guide to be able to easily copy and paste selected Essay e-Comments and their alphanumeric codes to create a specific cheat sheet for an essay response (a smart idea, because you probably won’t use all 438 comments for any one essay :)). I’ll send this file to your email.


Get the Quick Reference Guide FREE Resource:

FREE Essay e-Comments App Download

As a reader of the Pennington Publishing Blog, I want to you have this app absolutely free. Download the Essay e-Comments App: to start working smarter, not harder with your essay response and grading. Make sure to watch the Essay e-Comments video to see and hear exactly how to get the most out of the Essay e-Comments App. Oh, and forward this article to a colleague.

Grammar/Mechanics, Literacy Centers, Spelling/Vocabulary, Study Skills, Writing , , , , , , , ,

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