Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Red Pen

This is a discussion we had on another blog--now lost forever due to "The Great Ebloggy Crash of '04." It turned out to be one of the most active discussions we had. It seems writing utensils are close to the hearts of English teachers.

Anyway, what kind of pen, pencil, whatever do you use to comment on student papers? How extensively do you comment and/or mark errors? Why? Why not?

1 comment:

Sharon Gerald said...

I found my original post from the other blog--

When I was a TA, we were told not to write on student papers. We conferenced every student on every paper. If we wrote on the paper at all, we were supposed to make only general comments at the end, and we were supposed to use a pencil. We were told that pens were too invasive.

We were not supposed to correct grammar. We were just supposed to talk to the students about patterns of mistakes and how to find and repair them.

We were not supposed to reword sentences, only point out verbally where weaknesses were in sentence structures and leave it up to the student to do the corrections.

All that is well and good…at a university. It worked for those students. It took me all of one essay to realize that individual conferences were impossible with the size classes we have at a two-year college. And somewhere along the way I gave up on not correcting sentences and just started invading their writing like crazy.

For years, though, I’ve still had an aversion to red pens. I couldn’t stand the idea of “bleeding” all over their papers, no matter how badly needed a bleeding may have been. I’ve used pencils. I’ve used blue pens. I’ve used hot pink gel pens. I’ve used magenta sparkle pens. You name it; I’ve tried it.

To make a long story just a little bit shorter, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and purchase a pack of red pens. It’s so teacherish. I think I may be almost “broken in” now.