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Why Using Essay e-Comments Makes Sense

Good teachers know that students need detailed, prescriptive, and personal comments on their essays throughout the writing process to make significant improvement. However, the process can be time-consuming and frustrating. It would not be unusual for a teacher to spend 15 minutes to red-mark and write comments on the rough draft of a five-paragraph essay, then repeat the process to evaluate the final draft. Even with that significant amount of time, comments would have to be concise and rely upon abbreviations and diacritical marks. The focus has to be limited to identifying what is wrong, not explaining why it is wrong. No time for examples or suggestions as to how to improve the writing. Maybe a quick positive comment. Exhausting!

Additionally, frustration mounts as the teacher has to write the same comments over and over again throughout a stack of student papers. Only to be exacerbated when, after receiving their graded essays, students simply glance at their final grades before cramming the essay into the bottom of their backpacks. There has got to be a better way…

Why Using Essay e-Comments Makes Sense

1. Having students submit their essays on the computer enhances the interactive writing process and the social context of writing by facilitating reader response and writer revision.

2. Submitting essays electronically is environmentally responsible, saves money, and provides an automatic portfolio of student work. Submission options are numerous: Google Docs®, Turnitin®, Moodle Docs®, Viper®, Screencast®, a school network dropbox, or e-mail.

3. The essay e-comments provide a common language of writing instruction and discourse for teachers and students.

4. Teachers can respond to and/or evaluate essays in much less time than if graded manually. Using essay e-comments cuts grading time in half. If it takes 15 minutes to red-mark, write comments, and grade a five-paragraph essay, it will take only 7-10 minutes to insert comments and grade using essay e-comments. With a batch of 120 essays, this means a times-saving of six hours (120 x 10 minutes = 12 hours compared to 120 x 5 minutes = 6 hours).

5. Get the Essay e-Comments Bank of 438 entries included in The Pennington Manual of Style with comprehensive and prescriptive comments to respond to and/or evaluate student essays. The comments help developing writers learn what is correct and why it is correct. Furthermore, students learn what constitutes good writing and what does not. Unlike other e-grading programs, comments are not inserted automatically. The teacher decides how many and which comments to include in a student’s essay. The Essay e-Comments Quick Reference Guide organizes the comments into easy-to-find categories for quick comment selection.

*The Essay e-Comments loads into the Autocorrect function of Microsoft Word® 2003, 2007, 2010, and 2013. The same download works for XP, Vista, and Windows 7, 8, and 10.

6. Teachers can add in their own personalized comments with text or audio files. It’s easy to personalize the e-comment by adding onto the comment bubble. You can also add on a quick audio file to serve as your comment summary. Unlike other e-grading programs, teachers can save their custom comments in the Microsoft Word® Autocorrects, alongside the essay e-comments. How to Add in e-Comments to Microsoft Word Autocorrects

7. Teachers appreciate not having to write the same comments on each essay. For repeated errors, teachers simply highlight the text.

8. Teachers can insert hyperlinks to suggest or require additional content or skill practice.

9. Teachers can require their students to address each comment by using Microsoft Word® “Track Changes.” Students then re-submit revisions and edits for peer and/or teacher review. Just like real professional writers do with their editors!

10. Using essay e-comments prior to the student’s final draft changes teacher response from mere summative assessment to a dynamic and interactive coaching experience. Not every student has the same instructional writing needs. Remedial worksheets, using the same language of instruction as the essay e-comments are included in the Teaching Essay Strategies, Teaching Grammar and Mechanics, and Teaching Reading Strategies curricula. Each worksheet includes a formative assessment for easy progress monitoring. Answers provided, of course!

Essay e-Comment Samples

Introduction Paragraphs

Thesis statement does not respond to writing prompt. Re-read the writing prompt and dissect according to the WHO (the audience and role of the writer), the WHAT (the context of the writing topic), the HOW (the resource text title and author), and the DO (the key writing direction word).

Body Paragraphs: Argument, Analysis, Types of Evidence

Add support evidence. More evidence is needed to adequately support the major detail. Add evidence in major detail or minor detail sentences such as Fact, Example, Statistic,Comparison, Quote from an Authority, Logic, Experience, or Counter-Argument/Refutation. FE SCALE CR

Red Herring Errors An unconnected reference distracts the reader from the argument. Example: Poverty is the most important problem; however, the world has always had poor people. Explanation: The second clause distracts the reader from the issue of poverty as the most important problem.

Coherence, Word Choice, Sentence Variety, and Writing Style

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 2. Begin the sentence with another word from the sentence 3. Change one of the words in the sentence into a verb form.


MLA Works Cited (Print Encyclopedia) Pennington, Mark. “Works Cited.” Encyclopedia of Writing. 1st ed. 1. El Dorado Hills, CA: Pennington Publishing, 2010. Print. In-Text Citation: (Pennington 212-213)

Grammatical Forms

Gerund Phrases A gerund phrase is an ____ing verb, connected to related words, and is used as a noun. Examples: Driving a car has become a necessary skill these days.

Sentence Problems

Sentence Fragments A sentence fragment is only part of a complete sentence. To fix a sentence fragment, remove any subordinating conjunctions. Example: Although she found out where the boys were. Revision: She found out where the boys were.


Commas with Introductory Word(s) Use commas after introductory words, phrases, or clauses. Drop the comma if the sentence is very short and there is no necessary pause.Examples: First, listen to me. First of all, listen to me. After you first sit up, listen to me. Then I went home.


The i before e Spelling Rule Usually spell i before e (believe), but spell e before i after a c (receive) and when the letters are pronounced as a long /a/ sound (neighbor). Exceptions to the i before e rule include the following: neithereitherweirdforfeitcaffeineheight, to name a few.
Check out this complete writing process essay to see a sample of the resources provided in Teaching Essay StrategiesThe download includes writing prompt, paired reading resource, brainstorm activity, prewriting graphic organizer, rough draft directions, response-editing activity, and analytical rubric.

Get the Writing Process Essay FREE Resource:

Find essay strategy worksheets, on-demand writing fluencies, sentence revision and rhetorical stance “openers,” remedial writing lessons, posters, and editing resources to differentiate essay writing instruction in the comprehensive writing curriculum, Teaching Essay Strategies

Find 42 essay strategy worksheets that use same language of instruction used in the 438 e-comments, 8 on-demand writing fluencies, 8 writing TESprocess 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, and editing resources to differentiate essay writing instruction in the comprehensive writing curriculum, Teaching Essay Strategies.

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