Uh, no–but . . . you will definitely LOVE them, and enliven your discussions of writing. Picture this. Each student has a plastic sleeve (with a blank sheet of paper inside) and a dry erase marker. You share a piece of writing on a document projector, reading it aloud–or better yet, having a student volunteer read it. When you finish, students score the piece on a given trait by writing their scores–in big, bold numbers–on the plastic sleeves. At a sign from you, they hold them up for everyone in the class to see. Presto! You have a voting range (which is the truest kind of “score” anyway)–and a wonderful basis for discussion. Students LOVE seeing how everyone else voted–and how their perspective compares. Best of all, students vote from the heart  because there is no way to be influenced by others. When students indicate scores by raising hands, those who are uncommitted often wait to see how it goes, then side with the majority. The plastic sleeve “vote and reveal” approach brings everyone in, making every opinion count. By the way, teachers enjoy this scoring approach too, not for grading purposes, but rather as a means of identifying issues (some significant, some less so)  that influence our response to students’ work: length, clarity, voice, topic choice, conventions, appearance, and much more. Discussions of trait scores help teachers resolve many philosophical issues that surround scoring or grading–or even verbal responses in a conference. Plastic sleeves get students physically and psychologically engaged in voicing opinions about writing. But keep in mind that it isn’t the scores that matter. It’s the discussions they generate. To keep scoring even more lively, move beyond student papers. Try scoring a chapter from a textbook, a letter to the editor, an advertisement, a menu, and so on. Branching out in this way will greatly enrich students’ understanding of genre, too.

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