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My girlfriend is an Italian teacher in an italian school. She usually takes quite a long time to correct the compostions. Let's say at least 30-40 minutes each, and this is quite problematic because this year she has about 42 composition each month to correct!

She does it very meticulously, writing down correction near each mistake. The only consistent improvement she had was one last week when she succeded to correct 5 in one hour, because she was not writing corrections, but just marking the mistake in red and specifying the type of mistake (e.g. grammar, syntax etc.).

Do you think there is some other way to speed up the correction process?


The composition are hand-written class work, so they can't unfortunately be done with any computer or software, but only by hand and on paper.

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I was pointing this out because you asked for her with no indication that she had a problem. The succcess rate of helping someone who doesn't feel she needs help tends to low. As someone from a whole family of teachers, I know that most of them work 20 or more hours outside every week prepping for class and grading papers; it comes with the territory. The amount of time you posit is not unreasonable or even excessive. Bad teachers just mark with no extra comments. Good ones take the extra time to comment. – HLGEM Jan 15 '13 at 18:51
Ok I understand. If you read your comment again you'll realize that you gave a judgement on my reationship and it is at least undelicate... not to say even worse. I hope you realise what you wrote. In any case, we wrote it togeteher as she doesn't have and doesn't want a stackexchange account. What is encouraging in your last comment is that you say that it is a reasonabe amount of time. This is a good point, but then it means working more than 10hours each day, 6 days a week, for a very low salary. I personally find it unfair. – Daniele B Jan 15 '13 at 19:50
Back in my day in school, our language teachers would never write the corrections near each mistake, because that's the student's job to figure out. Just mark what type of mistake it is and I can figure the rest out: Is it a spelling mistake? I can look it up in a dictionary. Is it the wrong tense? The wrong word? The wrong gender? Just telling me THAT it is wrong will often be enough to tell me WHAT is wrong and what should have been the correct answer. – Lagerbaer Jan 21 '13 at 23:42

I can think of two approaches - both involve "delegating" some of the work.

Self correction

Write the type of mistake and ask students to resubmit with THEM listing the corrections. This is likely to work better for some types of errors such as spelling. But it does same time in the long run. It also lets the students learn more by looking them up. In the short run, it may not save time as she will have to look at the submissions twice.

Peer review

Have the students review the submission of another before submitting to your girlfriend. This gives your girlfriend higher quality submissions.

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+1 for peer review. This also gives the students proof reading experience, which can help them analyse their own work for errors. – Rory Alsop Jan 14 '13 at 9:01
Peer review is often not appropriate in a school situation as it can create a situation where poor students are made fun of. – HLGEM Jan 15 '13 at 16:16
Alternatively, if managed well, it can help a whole class pull together and build a strong cohesive team... – Rory Alsop Jan 16 '13 at 0:11
That's not an insurmountable obstactle. You could have the students write a # on the paper instead of their name. You have the key. The students don't know who they are grading. – Jeanne Boyarsky Jan 16 '13 at 4:07

Provide students a checklist or a rubrics on common errors: Give them a check list that details common problems. Students can run through each item when doing their final proof-reading.

Make a list of common errors: Having accumulated all the example mistakes, she can start compiling a list of common errors. That piece of notes can be itself a teaching material, and also a comment code. When grading, for instance, she can then refer to "RO" for run-on sentences, or a numerical code #14. Students can check the acronym or number against their common list of mistakes, and figure out what went wrong. She can also augment the list of common errors with common corrections as well.

Last year, I modified the approach (I teach epidemiology, so a bit different than arts). Instead of using the historic list, I listed the mistakes of the very same group of students. On each student's work, they will see a random ID code at the top of their paper, and some mistake codes along the passage. Then, on the mistake list, I put the problematic part next to the student's random ID code, and then categorized it under the type of mistakes. That way, students can figure out what are the mistakes, and they can also learn from all others' mistakes.

Use MS Word's track change or Adobe's commenting capabilities: Most of the time I wasted was to find space to scribble my comments and corrections. I went paperless for about 1.5 year and apart from saving paper, I've also saved a lot of frustration with scribbling by shifting to using track change (for docx files) and online commenting (for pdf files) for grading and correction. Other then comments, I also put links to reference websites (in your girl friend's case, online text book or dictionary.)

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+1 thanks for the suggestions. In any case The composition are hand-written class work, so they can't unfortunately be done with any computer or software, but only by hand and on paper. I'll update the question – Daniele B Jan 14 '13 at 20:25

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