Don't all teachers wish they could spend less time grading student writing? I’m no different, but deep down, I know in order for my students to improve, I need to give them timely, specific feedback. How can I accomplish this with daily writing assignments and not lose my mind grading it all? My solution to this problem is the “Level Up Your Writing” grading system.
This Mario-themed scoring guide is available for free on this website, and it’s “super” easy to incorporate. Here are its features:
THREE LEVELS: The Scoring Guide has three easy-to-understand levels: Green, Yellow, and Red. Green is “perfect" or "good, but not necessarily perfect,” Yellow is “getting there,” and Red is “okay, we have some major improvements to make.” Students see these colors and immediately understand their symbolism.
FOUR CRITERIA: My daily writing assignments have four simple criteria: Students should restate the question without using “yes” or “no,” provide examples to back up their opinion, explain those examples, and proofread for errors. The scoring guide states these expectations and asks students to examine their own writing to double-check which ones they might have overlooked.
VIDEO GAME THEME: I couldn’t resist applying a Super Mario theme to this scoring guide. Why? Video games are all about trying time and time again until you succeed. So is daily writing. If students understand that they need to “level up” their writing, they see writing as an ongoing process–not just a “one and done” activity.
SPEEDY FEEDBACK: I present this scoring guide to my students at the beginning of the year. I even have an animated Google Slides version that makes it a bit more lively. Then I post a picture of it in Google Classroom, where they can easily access it. Then whenever they submit their daily writing, I have descriptions of these three levels saved as comments in Google Classroom. All I have to do is type the word “GREEN,” and a paragraph-long comment with all the information from the scoring guide pops up. (See the picture below.) Then I can insert this into the student’s writing as a quick explanation for the grade they receive. The same goes for Yellow and Red. This speedy (and specific) feedback helps the students if they want to improve their writing on the next assignment.
MULTIPLE FORMATS: I also created a short, 2-page Mario-themed story that illustrates the same concepts that appear on the scoring guide. In the story, Mario competes in a riddle contest against Bowser Koopa, who loses because he does not fulfill the requirements of a solid answer. It’s a short and fun way to reinforce the concept in a different format.
I hope you give the “Level Up Your Writing” scoring guide a try in your own classroom! Also, make sure you sign up for our mailing list, so you don’t miss out when we post more free content like this.