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Insertable Canned Comments

Canned e-Comments

Insertable e-Comments

Like many of you, I have a love−hate relationship with grading or editing stories, essays, and reports. I know how important detailed writing feedback is to developing writers, and most of them have appreciated my efforts. However, marking papers remains heart-wrenching, repetitious, and time-consuming work.

Yes, I’ve tried and still use many of the grading hacks out there. However, let’s face it; many of the short-cuts reduce the quality and quantity of written feedback.

Yes, I’ve written and used a multitude of holistic and analytical rubrics.  However, I never bought into the just score the rubric mentality, and students uniformly find rubrics to be of little help in developing their writing skills.

Yes, I’ve been trained in the National Writing Project, Power Writing, Writers Workshop, 6+1 Traits, and Jane Shaffer programs, and I’ve learned plenty from each of these approaches. I’ve also authored a book which quite a few teachers have found to be helpful: Teaching Essay StrategiesHowever, the more you know, the more you tend to want to do, not less, and none of the programs helped me deal with the always-present stack of papers to grade.

Yes, I’ve more than dabbled with computer-assisted grading. I abandoned the red pen years ago and figured how to use the Autocorrect feature in Microsoft Word® and the Google Docs Tools−Preferences option to save canned comments with my own alphanumeric codes, but these ad hoc add-ins required too much memorization. A few of the newer Chrome extensions seemed promising, but their minimal and simplistic comment banks and their countless clicks and multiple menus took just as much time as red-marking papers with diacritical marks. Plus, they didn’t have all the bells and whistles I wanted, such as audio and video comment capabilities.

Simply put, I never found any method or program that would both save grading time and improve the quality of writing feedback.

Until now.

I recently retired to devote my attention and time to my small Pennington Publishing business. With the help of a patient and creative web developer, I’ve put together the e-Comments Chrome Extension with Grades 3−6, Grades 6−9, Grades 9−12, and College and Workplace comment sets. And, yes, it’s free. Consider it my retirement gift to dedicated elementary teachers, middle and high school ELA teachers, college English professors, and supervisors who edit workplace writing.

How do the e-Comments programs help you grade faster and better?

Each of the e-Comments extensions includes about 200 customizable comments which can be inserted into Google docs and slides with just one click from the pop-up e-Comments menu. Each comment identifies, explains, and shows how to revise a specific writing issue. Plus, you can add and save your own comments. Perfect for specific writing assignments. Plus, you’ll find out how to record audio, video, and speech to text comments to make the job of personalized feedback easier and more effective. And, most importantly, you don’t have to be a tech genius to use this program. It’s intuitive and user-friendly.

e-Comments Dropdown Menu

e-Comments Menu

Key Features of the e-Comments Program

Clicking the e-Comments icon in your extension toolbar opens a dropdown menu with an off−on slider. The extension remains available to use with any Google doc or slide until you switch to the off position. The program syncs to other Google apps upon start-up and indicates the sync status below the slider.

That same dropdown menu also includes a video tutorial, a one-page Quick Start User Guide, and the PDF comment banks for all four e-Comments extension levels. You never know when you’ll need to copy and paste a remedial or advanced comment to the extension level you’ve selected.

e-Comments Options

e-Comments Menu

Upon opening a student’s doc or slide, the full e-comments menu (all 200 or so, depending upon extension level) pops up in the right margin, away from the student’s text. You can scroll up and down or drag the menu to any screen position. Don’t worry. It won’t disappear on you. The menu is organized by writing categories:

  • Writing Format and Standards
  • Essay Structure and Content
  • Story Structure and Content
  • Sentence Formation and Writing Style
  • Word Choice
  • Nouns, Pronouns, Adjectives
  • Verbs
  • Modifiers, Adverbs, Prepositions, Conjunctions
  • Punctuation, Capitalization, Quotation Rules,
  • Spelling Rules
  • End Comments

To insert a comment, highlight the relevant section of the writer’s text, scan the writing comment categories to narrow your search, and hover over the abbreviated comment buttons. You’ll notice that the menu darkens, and the full comment appears in a pop-up. Simply click the button which responds to the writing issue and the entire comment appears in the margin of the writer’s document. So cool! Don’t worry; it’s saved.

More Bells and Whistles

Want to edit the comment for just one writer? Click on the three-dot button on the right side of the comment to add, delete, or substitute wording. You’ll notice that many of the e-Comments are quite comprehensive, and you may wish to narrow the instructional focus for individual writers.

Text to Speech

Type Text to Speech

Want to customize the comment for all your writers? Right click on the comment button, edit, and save. Use the speech to text function if you wish. Want to restore the default comments? No problem. Right click on the writing comment category and click “Restore Default Settings.”

Want to add and save your own writing comments to the e-comments menu? It’s easy to do. Click the “+” button and type in a comment abbreviation to create your own comment button. To enter the comment, you can type, copy and paste, or use the speech to text function. Add links if you wish. Don’t forget to save.

Audio or Video Comments

Record Audio or Video Comments

Want to insert an audio or video comment? Click on the microphone or video icon next to the “+” button to record. Make sure your mic or camera is on before recording. Make sure your hair is in place:) A pop-up window provides the record and playback functions. You can insert a personalized comment for one writer or save the audio or video file to the e-Comments menu to use for all your writers. Your writers will definitely pay attention to these comments!

Want to add and save a new writing comment category to the e-Comments menu for a specific writing assignment? Say for a response to literature essay on a class novel for teachers. Or for a business plan proposal for working professionals. Click the “Add Category” button at the bottom of the e-Comments menu, type the name of the category and click “Add.” Then add as many of your own comments as you wish to the new writing comments category.

Want to remove this category and its, but save them to your computer to add back in at another time? Right click the writing comments category button and click the trash icon. You can choose to permanently delete or click “Copy to Clipboard” and save the writing category and its comments to your computer.

Why the e-Comments Writing Feedback Works

Simply identifying writing issues is not enough, and writing feedback research is clear that circling a sentence fragment, red-marking FRAG, or using a grammar-checker to highlight the error has no measurable effect upon learning. Writers will continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.

The e-Comments do identify writing issues, but they also explain why they are issues with reasons, rules, and examples, and they show writers how to revise their writing. The four extensions are aligned to the Common Core Anchor Standards for Language and Writing. You will make a significant impact on developing writers by using the e-Comments Chrome Extension.

Example:

Revise Gender Pronoun Issue: Make both the pronoun and its antecedent (the word or group of words to which a pronoun refers) plural when gender (male or female) does not need to be identified. Example: Everyone needs his rest. Revision: All need their rest.

*****

Why not use the same language of instruction as the e-Comments program for program instruction? Mark Pennington is the author of Teaching Essay Strategies, Teaching Grammar and Mechanics, Differentiated Spelling Instructionand the Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit.

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