One of my goals in this course is to teach you how to work as part of a writing group— to learn how to offer other writers useful responses to their work-in-progress and how to make smart use of the comments you get on your own writing. I’ve found that these groups work best when I try not to intrude too much upon them. Much of the feedback you receive on your work for this course, then, will come from the other writers in this class.
But I will also read all the writing you do for this course. Most of my written comments on your work will be brief and direct, aimed at helping you develop your writing, to take it to the next level.
I will respond to your Exercises (Xs) with two or three sentences noting what strikes me as the most promising direction your piece could take in revision. I will also lead a conversation in class about what strike me me as the most interesting responses to each X assignment. You can thus anticipate that your writing will be the focus of class discussion at least once or twice this semester.
I will respond to your Revisions (Rs) after each workshop. I will ask you to email me a revision plan after you meet with your writing group, in which you outline (a) what your readers thought the strengths of your current draft were, (b) what changes or additions they suggested you make, (c) your actual plans for revision, and (d) any questions you may have for me. I will then you email you back with my thoughts about how to move ahead with your essay.
But here is the key point: The best thing that my written comments can do is to lead to a conversation between us. While my written responses to your Xs and Rs will be brief, I will always be happy to talk more about your writing with you. Ask me and I will find a time to when we can meet to talk about your work.
Your Xs and Rs will be graded with a √ or √-. Your three final essays will be the only pieces that receive a letter grade. In grading these essays, I will use this rubric:
[Download Essay rubric]
Don’t worry if any of the terms on this rubric don’t seem immediately clear to you. As we move through the term, I will try to explain the shorthand I use on this form and we will talk more about criteria that different readers bring to creative nonfiction. I will not argue about grades. But my hope is to assess your work in a way that is both clear and useful to your ongoing growth as a writer.
And that brings me back to the idea of of conversation. Please think of my written comments on your work not as final comments but as beginning ones. Let’s talk.
Included in this resource are 20 different nonfiction writing rubrics and checklists. These rubrics & checklists assess the Six Traits of Writing and help students learn to write to inform.
The rubrics are detailed and the checklists allow students to edit their own work independently before editing with a peer.
The checklists also encourage students to highlight and underline specific parts of their papers as evidence that they have included particular elements of each piece of nonfiction writing into their papers.
You will receive rubrics & checklists for the following types of nonfiction writing:
cause & effect essay
compare & contrast essay
response to literature