We have been experimenting with on line marking, evaluation and feedback of eleven plus English. We started off with GCSE English students where their essays were marked, salient points presented to the pupil on line – along with a GCSE examiner’s evaluation of the essay.
We have noticed over the years that when an Eleven Plus essay or story is handed back that it sometimes quite difficult to go over errors and mistakes – because an analysis of errors seems to turn some children off. Equally a child seems to remember only the good points that are brought out. He is she is more likely to say to the parents that; “It was a good story, I brought out the characters.” It is possible, and likely, that a child would rush up excitedly to mum or to dad and say “I need to work on paragraphs and planning!”
The first thing that is looked at in an essay or story is was the question answered. However gifted an eleven plus child is at writing – if the question is not addressed in an appropriate manner then the child simply has to be marked down.
Then it comes to the thorny question of a plan. Some children do not appear to like writing plans. A child could produce plan after plan – but then something will trigger the mind and the story can start without any evidence if planning. “I did it in my head,” may be true but will not really work with a remote examiner.
Of course the story needs to follow the plan. A wonderful plan on how man has developed different uses of fire may, horribly, develop into a story how a brave girl was instrumental in putting out a fire thus securing an old people’s home.
The content too needs to be realistic. You child can not deviate from the script and expect to be offered or awarded good marks.
Punctuation and spelling also need to be taken into account – but will probably not penalise a good answer too much.
Of course it is easier if your child can type the finished piece. You can then create missing paragraphs – and run the much loved spell checker.
Some children are much happier to create a story if they can dictate their ideas and see them appear on the screen as they are talking.
You could video your discussion about the completed story. Use this video as a teaching aid. Ask your child to analyse his or her responses. Try to point out his or her reaction when you suggest a word that could possibly have been a little more descriptive. Raise load cheers when mistakes in punctuation are acknowledged – and altered.
Return to the video a few weeks later. Look at the story together – and the video. Remind your child that very few real authors are immediately satisfied with their output. Talk about revisions and rewriting.