Sunday, October 9, 2011

Grading Drafts of Student Written Work Part 1: Awesome Screenshot for Google Chrome

Long title, but worth it!  The grading process I go through for student written work has evolved quite a lot over my fifteen year teaching career.  Some of the keepers have been:

1.  Insisting on a draft

I think it is crucial for early learners of a foreign language to recognize that mistakes are expected.  Even more than that, they are a necessary part of the learning process.  I used to grade the first draft, and make revision optional, updating the grade as students made corrections to their writing, but so few students were motivated to correct their work, that I felt a change was necessary  I began requiring a draft.  I graded the draft on content, rather than grammatical errors.  I would make note of errors so students could correct them in the final draft.

2.  Providing a key to my notations.

This I figured out very early on.  I always explained my notations, and they were (to my mind) fairly straightforwardd -- voc = vocabulary error, vb conj = verb conjugation error, etc.  but having a key for reference made things much easier for my students.  This key is always a work in progress, as their questions and errors never cease to surprise

Key to editing abbreviations

3.  Awesome Screenshot

Last year I began my journey into electronic portfolios.  With students doing their writing online it made no sense to create (read:  waste) paper just to note areas needing correction, which they would then correct back on the computer.  I knew there had to be a way to keep it all online.  Enter Awesome Screenshot.  I use it as an add-on to Google Chrome.  It appears as a button on the Chrome toolbar.  When I open a student's portfolio page in the Chrome browser and click the Awesome Screenshot button, it offers three choices -- capture the visible part of the page, a region of the page, or the whole page.  Awesome Screenshot creates an image file of your choice, and opens it (within Chrome) with a toolbar for annotation.  I am thereby able to make basically the same notations I used to make with my pen, now with the mousepad on my laptop, and my horrible handwriting is no longer an issue for my students (neither is theirs for me).  I then save the annotated copy as a new image file, and embed it into the student's electronic portfolio above the original draft.  That done the student has the annotated image to refer to while correcting the draft.

Here is a sample :

What do you think?


  1. Awesome stuff! I am currently using our network's drop box and edmodo assignments feature for writing. I prefer your way! Will have to see if I can make it happen in my school district! Thank you for sharing!

  2. I can't actually do any of this at school, although we just got Chrome, which was the major sticking point. We'll see what I can accomplish now!!