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Writing Meaningful Narrative Comments

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by

Cara Horner

on 11 October 2017

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Transcript of Writing Meaningful Narrative Comments

Comments should be...
-
Student-focused
(eliminate "I" statements)
-
Concrete
(provide a few examples and even an anecdote)
-
Reflective
of the effort grade
-
Prescriptive
(provide one or two actionable suggestions)

In
most
circumstances, it's best to:

- Frame in a
warm
and
positive
way, but without sugarcoating.
- Keep frustration out of the comment - let the facts and anecdotes speak for themselves.
- Never sound like you've given up on a kid.
Other Helpful Tips
A word about tone
Image by Tom Mooring
A possible format
Writing Meaningful Narrative Comments
Example 1
In the second interim, students in 8 Literature concluded their study of short fiction and began Harper Lee’s
To Kill a Mockingbird
, during which they will continue to develop skills in text annotation, student-led discussion, small group collaboration, and analytical essay writing.
John is a serious student who always puts forth his best effort.

He is thoughtful and vocal in class discussion and works well in small groups. John is most comfortable with rigid parameters: when he is told exactly what to do and how to do it. Thus, he is very successful when it comes to assignments like creating a chart to prove a character trait with textual evidence. When an assignment is less structured (for example, a recent essay prompt that allowed for choice of topic and a word count guideline instead of paragraph requirement), he tends to get worried and ask for more help than he really needs.

As the year progresses, John should try to view these less structured assignments as the real opportunities for growth and learning, and be more confident in his strong close reading and writing skills.

Example 2
In the second interim, students in 8 Language Arts continued their study of phrases and clauses and took a cumulative grammar assessment in early December. Because there were some lapses in comprehension, we will continue to reinforce some of those concepts before moving on to sentence structure.
Miley brings a smile and a sense of humor to our group.
Her recent common application essay assignment featured her distinct, humorous voice. Miley embraced the writing process more than usual, completing several revisions based on workshop feedback. This dedication paid off. She really struggles on grammar assessments, but is quite able to do homework and classwork when she has access to her notes and example sentences (she earned a 44 on the exam, but then on subsequent homework assignments on the same material, she earned a 96 and an 80). This suggests that she is not doing enough to study at home.

In order to make her understanding of phrases and clauses more automatic, she will need to review the material in small increments
every
night and come for extra help to reinforce her comprehension much more often. If Miley adopts these learning strategies, she should be able to master the grammar content by the end of the year.

Comments should avoid...
- Loaded words (for example, "potential")

- Sweeping judgments about the child

- Personal reactions (pride, disappointment), which encourage fixed mindsets and undermine self-motivation

- Being too general ("fine")

- Being overly statistical (grade-focused)

- Typos and grammatical errors

1-2 sentences about content/curriculum
1 sentence expressing something positive about the child.
2+ specific sentences about student performance with concrete information, examples, and anecdotes
1-2 concluding, prescriptive sentences
Getting started
: look at comments from previous years; find the "type"

Staying objective:
revise "I" statements AFTER you write them

Tone
: In the case of a difficult or under-performing student, write what you wish you could say. Then tone it down :)

Proofreading
: read out loud to catch typos and errors.

Full transcript