Scoring Essays

I spent the last week teaching my students how to score AP essays, and they did a fantastic job!

We looked at the AP writing rubric and a retired prompt on Monday, and then scored a single paper based on that prompt each day this week. As we moved through the week, the kids’ scoring got more accurate each day.

The kids would read an essay and then put the score on a sticky note. I would then have a student grab the stickies in the vicinity, and the students would then put them up on the chart I made on the white board. This created a bar graph on the board for us to look at.

Then, I would ask the students to share their scores and explain why the score is appropriate using the rubric and evidence from the essay in the explanation. The kids actually started to debate the scores a bit, and I simply acted as a moderator.

Next, I asked the students if they wished to change their scores on the board. About 5-10 kids would have me move their stickies based on the conversations about the essay.

Once the stickies were finalized on the graph, I gave the students the actual score and explained the reasons. I allowed the students one more time to react, and then we looked at our accuracy.

On Thursday I gave the students a prompt I wrote based on the novel we’re reading, and I’m going to use the AP scoring guide to assess them.

This coming Monday I will hand out the students’ papers, have the kids look over what they wrote, write down with a colored pen what they would have done differently, and then try to score their essay using the AP rubric.

Lastly, I will give them their scores, and they will explain why our scores match or do not match.

All in all, it was a great week of talking about writing and assessing writing. From a geeky English teacher perspective: what a great sequence of days!

5 thoughts on “Scoring Essays

  1. I Teach in Philly

    this sounds like the perfect week of lessons. What a beautiful way to make rubric scoring hit home for the students.

    Unfortunately an exercise like this would be deemed “below standard” in our district because it
    1/ does not adhere to the district curriculum which is some dreamer’s idea of reality and
    2/ when addressing standardized tests, we are only supposed to show them how to answer multiple choice questions through process of elimination, etc. Essays are answered by using a formula called “tag-it” which means “turn the question around” etc. Our district has been wallpapered with posters with this formula for years and every child in our schools can recite it.

    You and your students are lucky. thanks for letting us in on the good stuff!

  2. drpezz Post author

    No offense, but your district sounds like an awful place to teach. 😦

    I did have a great week, and this coming week we’re scoring their essays over the novel we just finished. Should be a lot of learning happening.

    1. I Teach in Philly

      It is an awful place to work. The Philadelphia Public School District is the 9th largest district in the country and the administration is hell-bent on destroying joy and creativity for students or their teachers.

      Reading blogs like yours makes me feel like a child with her nose pressed to the window of a toy store. I long to teach like you but we are driven by teaching for the test, right down to how we word our “Do Now” activities and the semantics of our lesson plans.

  3. Allie

    This sounds like a very creative way to teach students about AP tests, thanks for all your blog posts and updates it really in inspiring hearing from a teacher who is genuinely passionate and dedicated to (and talented at) his job.


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