Sunday, September 23, 2007

Grade One, Blog One

I got my first real set of first year writing class essays on Friday, so I pulled out the pile and started in on the top one.

I marked it way more than I should have. I need a couple stamps: "Support your assertion." "Why do you think so?" "Is this your idea, or someone else's?" "How does this paragraph relate to your thesis?"

Then I also need one that says "Cite your source!"

It's really hard to pick up the second paper when you've just put a one-legged A on the first.

I bet if someone came up with a set of writing response stamps, they'd make a fortu... Hmmm, what other stamps should I make?


  1. Many years ago, when I was teaching at the non-Lutheran college in Northfield, the students bought me a stamp to help me grade bluebooks: BULLSHIT.


  2. I need a trifecta: thesis?/Tie this back to your thesis/doesn't this contradict your thesis?

    But really, I want one that reads: "You fool you! Were you high when you wrote this???"

    I'd only stamp it on my grade sheet, not anything I handed back to students. But it would help me feel better.

    Good luck grading! I'm procrastinating writing right now.

  3. Excuse my cluelessness, but what's a one legged A? Is that an F?

  4. Oh my goodness, the stamp thing is a great idea!!

    And I need to know what a one-legged A is, too. F seems to make sense. Please confirm!

  5. Anonymous5:09 PM


    I think a one-legged A is indeed an F. If you Google "one-legged a," you find a couple of sites giving the quotation "Don't think of an 'F' as failure, think of it as a one-legged 'A,'" attributed to Jennifer McSorley (?)

  6. I graded 110 world civ essays last week (all first-semester freshlings). I could have used stamps that said: thesis?, and...?, generalization!, cite your source, and...F. 102 of the 110 were Ds or Fs. It was a sad, sad day.

    You should make the stamps. You'd make a ton of money! (and ease the scribbling load of so many of us...)

  7. Bonzo, I think they'd revoke my tenure if I did that. :(

    Sisyphus, GOOD idea!

    MWWAK, Yes, an F. It's what we called it when I was a kid.

    Hilaire, /nod I could be bigger than Bill Gates!!!!

    Meansomething, Oh, I like the "lost the will to go on" idea!

    JM, /comfort I hate F essays; I always feel like I've failed as much as they have.

  8. I want one that says "AWK." for all the "awkward prose" I encounter.

    I had an English teach in high school who was famous for the acronym "SWWC" -- "So what, who cares?"

  9. "English teach"? Hmmm.


    I meant to type "English teacher"

  10. I love the stamps you proposed--please make some!!! I'd be more than willing to contribute start-up funds! I like Amanda's "Awk" as well!

    If I may request a few more, please consider:

    Follow up quotes!

  11. My beau actually has a set of self-inking stamps that he had custom made. I think he got them at one of the "big box" office supply stores. They say things like, "Give me details," "Use MLA format," Please rewrite," etc. It saves him a lot of time, and the students have less of his handwriting to decipher (not that it's bad, but when you have 100 essays, it gets messy!).

  12. Anonymous8:05 AM

    I've always been partial to "WTF?"

    The day I actually start using it, you'll know I've snapped.

  13. I know people who make a template handout for their students that are numbered. Then they can just put a 1, 2, etc next to the offending section and the student can find the comment themselves (so thesis? argument? evidence? awkward, grammar, etc, you would never have to write again!). I've considered doing it myself.

  14. God, I like the idea of a WTF? stamp.

    What I actually write: "I don't think this is the case."

    Or sometimes: "Check your source."

  15. I actually do have a stamp that says:
    Article title? Quotation marks.
    Book title? Italicize or underline.

    There's a character of a hand/finger with a string tied around it.

    I only use it when I'm really frustrated. But then it comes out. Takes up about 3 inches across and 1 inch up and down!

    Had it made up someplace I googled one day when I'd graded just too much.

  16. I've wanted to get a little fish stamp and red ink to put together and make a red herring.* Alternatively, you might make a stamp that asks, "How does this follow?"

    *I've also frequently wanted to send red ink-dipped actual, rotting herring to a number of polemicists I have read.

  17. Heo, I would be willing to pay the postage on that herring!

    Timna, Oh, color me jealous!

    Delagar, WTF is what we're thinking, sometimes!

    Kate, The template's a smart idea, but I'd have to learn the numbers. Do students take them seriously?

    Anon, me too.

    Terminal Degree, Oh, that's a very good reason to go grade at Unexpected's place! Can I come, too?

    Dr. Mon, I actually googled to see how much stamps cost... $5-6 bucks a shot. And we'd need probably five to ten?

    Amanda, I've never been much of an "awk"er. But I love the other. One of my favorites, too, is "show me/so what?"

  18. I need some of those stamps, too. Particularly one that says "signal phrase needed when using quotations." Well, that might be too long. Maybe just "Needs Signal Phrase." Can you tell what one of my pet peeves is?

  19. Sure, we'll make it a grading party! I'll bring the tequila.

    Unexpected also has stamps that say,
    "Give me more details. Show, don't tell. Please clarify. The number of the subject must agree with the number of the verb." (I'm not sure about all of these, but some are directly from Strunk & White.)

  20. More ideas!

    "Tab and use single space for long quotations."
    "What is the significance of this idea or observation?"
    "This paper requires paragraphs."
    "Please go to the writing centre and use their services to improve your writing." (Better yet just a stamp with the contact information for the writing centre!).

  21. I LOVE these stamp ideas, and I would definitely buy them. As a first-time TA grading freshmen composition essays I would find a use for all the ones listed, and save my poor cramping hand!

    As an alternative to WTF, how about WTS (What the swyve)? The students won't be offended and it would make me feel as good as if I used WTF.

    Mary (new TA)