Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Marginal Comments

First Paper: Interesting idea; will your readers agree? Develop this point to greater depth. Cite your sources, please. Do you have evidence?

Second Paper: Cite your sources, please. Gram: dangling modifier; come ask and I'll explain. Number your pages, please. Develop this example further? Good point!

Third Paper: Is this your thesis? Evidence? Good example. Cite your sources.

Fourth Paper: Interesting, develop? Number your pages, please. Indent new paragraphs.

Fifth Paper: Thesis? Gram: run on sentence; use a semi-colon or a connecting word. Cite your sources. Can you develop this point further?

Sixth Paper: Develop example to bring out your point. Gram: fragment; use a comma to avoid the fragment. Number pages. Gram: dangling modifier; come ask and I'll explain.

Seventh Paper: Confusing sentence. Number pages. Cite sources. Gram: run on sentence; use a semi-colon or connecting word.

Eighth Paper: Thesis! Cite sources. Gram: fragment; use a comma. Number pages.

Ninth Paper: Gram: run on. Number pages. Evidence? Gram: dangling modifier. Really? Indent Para.

Tenth Paper: Example? Gram: fragment. Can you develop this example to make the point stronger?

Eleventh Paper: Cite sources. Evidence? Dev. point. # pages. Dangling modifier.

Twelfth Paper: Gram: frag. Cite. Dev. Example? Indent.

Thirteenth Paper: Cite. Ev? Run on. # pages.

Fourteenth Paper: Cite! Frag. Dev? Ex?

Fifteenth Paper: Thesis? Frag! # pgs. Really? Cite! Indent!

And, now I'm half-way done with the stack.


  1. I wrote a standard letter explaining why their failure to cite their sources means that they'll have a 0 until they revise. It's attached to their hard copy in place of the grading matrix.

    I had 34 out of 85 get a 0. Add in the 0 for plagiarism and it's really panic time in my Ethics class.

  2. Anonymous8:04 AM

    I teach three levels of first year composition, and for the last few weeks, I've been (repeating) the same lecture in each class: why Works CITED is titled Works CITED. And, no, just because you stick a citation in Works CITED doesn't mean you actually CITED it in your essay.

    It's remarkable how slowly this sinks in.

    I'm thinking of doing a skit one day with three students arguing, then asking students to summarize who said what in the argument. They would probably "cite" then ("the red head yelled this, and then the brunette responded with this"), but somehow I fear it still wouldn't translate into citations in their own writing. What do you think?

  3. richard10:31 AM

    Ah, yes. I have a standard spiel I go through that begins, "An essay has three parts: An introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Question: What is the minimum number of paragraphs that an essay should have?"


    Once the students are able to count up to three, we begin talking about what the introduction is supposed to introduce, etc. etc. For my freshman class, I go through this (with illustrative examples) several times during the semester. I guess this is what passes for "writing across the curriculum" (since I am NOT in the English department).

    Nevertheless, the majority of poor grades on the essays go to students who never do learn how to count up to three.

  4. I'm just amused by writing "frag!" on papers. I do that myself, but hadn't noticed until your list it sounds like frak.

  5. What? No stickers?!!!Not even a little turkey for thanksgiving?

  6. I love how the comments get less and less explanatory (because, really, are they going to get the point better if you write it all out?).

  7. Has someone created stamps for teachers yet? So you didn't have to write it out? Bet there's a market for that.

  8. my brother sent me a WTF? red ink stamp, but I haven't used it on student papers (yet).
    I also have a stamp (left it at home) that says something about quotations for article titles, italics for book titles. must have gotten tired of writing that out.