C o u r s e   R e s o u r c e s

Writing 121









Grading and
Peer Review


General Writing



Online Resources


Grammar and Style








Note: for disciplinary resources, click here











Grading and Peer Review  

Peer Review

Peer Review (or "Writing Groups") take different shapes for different GTAs.  Some do peer reviews after conferences; others do it before.  Some get students into groups of 4-5 and have everyone review everyone else's paper in class; others use smaller groups, and/or a take-home letter combined with a brief in-class peer conference.  Experiment with methods until you hit upon one that works for you.  Since classes have different personalities, it can even be useful to choose your peer review method based on your class's personality (or let the class vote on its own peer review method!).


   Peer Evaluation Guidelines: Could be used for an in-class or a take-home peer review


   In-Class Writing Group Worksheet: Though tailored to the argument paper, this worksheet could easily be adapted to other units.


   Guidelines for writing Peer Review letters: Basic guidelines for a take-home peer review letter, including a sample excerpt from a letter.

   Guidelines for Peer Review and Conference Commentaries: A sample guideline sheet for the commentaries students write after the peer review and conference processes and turn in with their portfolios


   Sample Peer Review Commentary: A sample of a commentary a student might write after a peer review (to be included in the portfolio).


   Writing Group Experience Evaluation: An extensive feedback sheet that could be useful to you, and used in lieu of a peer review commentary


   Peer Review Checklist: A basic checklist for the peer review process.  Unfortunately, in a non-manipulable file format


As a GTA, you'll undoubtedly be placed in the position of giving a student his or her first sub-par grade--a fun experience for neither of you.  In grading, it's useful to remember that you'll almost always have a few D's and F's in a stack, and that you certainly won't have all A's.  Be fair; consider students as individuals, and challenge them to improve as individual writers.  At times, it may feel as if you are holding different students to different standards.  Know that this is something every teacher struggles with.  As students start to understand that you're truly there to make them better writers, they won't lose interest in their letter grades--but if you're lucky, they'll start to care about more than that.


   Scoring Guide: Students tend to put too much emphasis on letter grades as it is, and the scoring guide at least breaks the grading process into manageable parts for you, and understandable parts for them.  Be sure to go over it in class before assigning the first paper.


   Why Revision Doesn't Guarantee a Higher Grade: List of ten reasons a student doesn't automatically get a better grade when he or she revises, along with two reasons this isn't anything to be bummed about.  This is a great sheet to hand out to students before a first conference, and an excellent chance to


   Portfolio Grading Sheet: This is a grade sheet that can be included with a portfolio--a little more thorough than the standard rubric.


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Grammar and Style

Teaching Grammar

WR121 is not a grammar class; we go in with the assumption that student writing will be relatively free of serious grammar and punctuation mistakes.  However, as you already know if you've looked at a set of WR121 papers before, this is not the case.  Though grammar certainly shouldn't be the main focus of the class, many GTAs integrate grammar mini-lessons at the beginning of each class, or on an as-needed basis.  Many students find it empowering to learn the difference between "who" and "whom," or how to use a semicolon correctly--or they find that as college writers, they suddenly care about these things for the first time. 


   Five Tips for Teaching Grammar: From a past GTA.


   Comma Worksheet: A worksheet that covers the major usages of the comma.  Can be useful to do in groups, then discuss as a class.


   Grammar Your Students Probably Won't Know: A list of lesson ideas from a GTA who kept track of her students' grammar/punctuation mistakes.


   Grammar Inventory: Want to find out what your students don't know so you know what grammar lessons you might want to do?  Give them this the first week and see what you learn.


   Punctuation Made Simple: A great web source with lots of useful ideas and activities for teaching grammar.


   Grammar Quiz: A short quiz that covers some grammar basics.

MLA Style

Here's what students will say they find frustrating: every teacher seems to want a different form of citation from them!  Thus, early on, it's important to explain that you understand this frustration, and also to explain the relative universality of MLA.  Furthermore, let students know that you don't expect them to memorize it (unless you do), but that you do expect them to get it right in their papers.  It's a form of communication, after all--a way of letting a reader know what their sources are, and ultimately, a way of asserting the credibility of their evidence.  Students tend not to resist MLA once they understand the reason behind it--that it's essentially a form of communication between academics, as opposed to a meaningless formality contrived to torture them!


   Purdue Online Writing Lab, MLA Style: a really useful web source with many handouts, lessons, etc. explaining MLA.


   MLA Citation Quiz: A very thorough quiz on different aspects of MLA style.  Could be used in groups, with or without notes, depending what you want students to be able to do.


   Works Cited Handout: A concise handout on how to make a works cited page.


   Webster on MLA Style: Another website worth consulting.




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General Writing Resources  

This is a bank of writing resources that don't pertain specifically to one unit or another in the class.  Many of these can be used as student handouts or activities; others may be useful as lecture notes. 


   Academic Writer's Checklist: A great writing checklist that focuses on conventions as well as content.  Perfect for handing out to students.


   Reading Responses: In order to help students look closely at the essays they read in class, it can be helpful to assign a few (or many small) reading responses.  The goals of this exercise are to facilitate student understanding and improve the quality of class discussion.


   Invention and Brainstorming Exercise: All too often, we expect students to write brilliant papers without giving them the tools to come up with brilliant ideas.  Many sit down at their computers and begin writing without any kind of listmaking or preparation.  This fabulous exercise takes students through three methods of brainstorming and allows them to work individually, in pairs, and as a class.


   Dramatistic Pentad Brainstorming Exercise: Don't be fooled by the fancy name--this is a very useful and straightforward way to explore the characteristics of an idea or topic.  Works well on groups, individually, or even as a whole class,


   Cubing Brainstorming Exercise: Another method of exploring characteristics of an idea or topic.


   Paper Presentation Guidelines: A how-to sheet for students; this GTA used five-minute in-class presentations in lieu of a paper for one of the units.  Alternatively, some GTA's make presentations extra credit, or require them in addition to a (shorter) paper.


   How Students Enter an Academic Conversation: A thorough chart that breaks student writing into four levels along the criteria of engagement (use of evidence, challenging ideas, constructing meaning), relevance, and credibility.  May be useful for students to see, but likely more useful for you to look at in deciding what you expect of students and what your goals are in teaching the course.


   Ten Commandments of Good Historical Writing: Designed to apply to history, but most are directly applicable to WR121 as well.


   Final Process Memo: This can be included with the last portfolio.  It gives a chance to reflect on their writing for the class, and also may give you a sense of how helpful different sections of the course have been for your students.


   Short Library Session Quiz: This can be used after the library sessions, to make sure students weren't just checking their e-mail and playing Solitaire.  If you decide to give it, be sure your librarian actually intends to cover all of this.


   Summary of Formal Essays: An "Assignment Overview" sheet can be useful to give out to students early in the quarter so they get a sense of what's coming.  This one covers Analyzing a Text, Exploring on an Idea, and Arguing a Position.


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Online Resources  

Some teachers are more web-savvy than others, but it's generally fair to say that many of your students will be more web-savvy than you!  Requiring occasional work online, or even constructing an incredibly basic website for your class can sometimes prove a useful resource.  Know, too, that all students have web access at school, even if they don't at home; provided you give then a couple days' lead time, it's certainly fair to ask your students to to work online, go to a particular website, etc.


   Valley Library's WR121 Resources Page: Link to the OSU Library's 121 information.  This includes research tips, databases, and the library assignments.


   Blackboard: Through OSU, this website allows you to post assignments, announcements, course documents, and websites for your students.  You can even start a student discussion board.  It's a little tough to figure out without training, but regular training sessions are held in the library.  As Chris or Patrick about the next scheduled training dates.


   Blogger: This easy-to-use weblog site allows you to make a website.  No training or web experience necessary.  Past TA's have used it as a sort of announcement board--posting assignments, updates, and course info.  The downside is that you can post text, but not downloadable word documents--not in the free version, anyway. 


   Florida State University: The writing website from FSU--full of great resources and ideas.  Be sure to check it out!


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