If you have been grading essays online in Google Classroom, Canvas, or Turnitin, you have probably already discovered the life-changing magic of a feedback comment bank. If not, get ready for me to rock your essay grading world in just a moment. But for those already familiar with essay grading comment banks, are you making the most of their potential? With just a few simple tweaks, you will ensure the time you spend leaving feedback directly improves student writing.
But before you jump in with these tips, let’s to do a little “pretest” so that you’ll be able to see how much you improve after implementing some of these strategies. Have you ever calculated how much time you’ll need to spend grading essays outside of your contract hours? It’s a wake up call for sure! 😬 If you would like an easy way to discover your number, download this FREE Magic Essay Grading Calculator and add you own data!
Now let’s work on lessening that total with the help of feedback comment banks!
What are Grading comment banks?
To put it simply, grading comment banks help English teachers work smarter, not harder by setting up a list of commonly used comments so that they don’t have to retype or rewrite the same feedback over and over on 100+ essays.
An essay grading comment bank could be as low tech as a Word doc that ELA teachers copy and paste from, or it could even be a handwritten system for those who still grade on paper.
However, Learning Management Systems (LMS) like Google Classroom and Canvas have made comment banks even easier to use! While setting up an essay grading comment bank will take some extra time up front, it will save you endless hours over the course of your career.
That being said, if you are going to take the time to set up an essay grading comment bank, let’s make sure you will make the most of it!
How to use essay grading comment banks
Once you set up your comment bank, you will use it every time you assign an essay. However, if you want to make the most out of your feedback, then you need to consider focusing on using your feedback bank more during the revision process than the final essay grading. You can read more rationale and research in this post: English teacher mindset shifts for prioritizing revision over grading essays
But in short, let’s look at what I said about the benefits of comment banks above, “so that [English teachers] don’t have to retype or rewrite the same feedback over and over on 100+ essays.”
The only reason ELA teachers would need to rewrite the same feedback over and over is if students aren’t mastering their writing tasks.
When you make an essay grading mindset shift, you help students improve their writing during the writing process and will have very few comments to leave on the final essays.
Level up your essay comment bank with these examples:
Feedback example Before:
Your thesis isn’t clear
Feedback example After:
Thesis statements tell the reader the significance of the subject and the writer’s thoughts or stance on the topic. The thesis acts as a guide to how the writer will support those thoughts or that stance. A thesis is an interpretation of a subject or the answer to a question — not a question itself. To be valid, the thesis must provide an arguable claim rather than an accepted truth. To summarize, a thesis answers a question, can be proven, and leads to discussion.
❏ Does your thesis answer the prompt?
❏ Can someone argue a different side?
❏ Will your thesis guide your essay?
Learn more here: Thesis mini lesson
Essay comment example Before:
Essay comment example After:
A complete sentence contains a subject (something performing action), a verb (the action being performed), and expresses a complete thought. A sentence fragment occurs when one of these is missing.
Lacks subject: Sitting on the shelf.
Revision: The books are sitting on the shelf
Lacks verb: Books on the shelf.
Revision: Ashley put the books on the shelf.
Lacks complete thought: When the books are on the shelf.
Revision: When the books are on the shelf, the room looks tidier.
Learn more here: Fragment mini-lesson
As you can see in these grading feedback examples, fleshing out your essay commentary can give direct and differentiated feedback on student writing. These grading comments for students give them an example and offer a video for those who need more guidance.
After getting this feedback, students can revise to master the writing standards.
Obviously, there’s no way English teachers have enough time to write feedback that detailed every time they grade an essay. This is where comment banks save the day! Literally. You can save days of your life by strategically using comment banks.
First, you can either make your own or download my comment bank list here: Fast and Focused Feedback
Next, you set up your comment bank using one of the following tutorials:
How to use the comment bank in Google Classroom
This Google Classroom comment bank example and tutorial will show you how easy it is to set up a feedback bank that you can use over and over for the rest of your essay grading days!
How to use the Canvas Comment Library
Canvas recently introduced their own comment library, and while I haven’t used it myself, this tutorial is helpful:
How to use Turnitin Quickmarks for grading essays
Turnitin was actually the first program to use a comment bank. They were years before Google Classroom, and I used Turnitin exclusively for grading essays. If your school has a subscription to Turnitin, I would highly recommend checking out this option. It integrates with Canvas and you can pop it out to grade through Turnitin, bypassing the Canvas comment library altogether.
How to use a comment bank in Schoology or a different LMS
As far as I know, Schoology or other LMS systems don’t offer a built-in comment bank. For this, you’ll need to go the copy and paste route. You can find my Word doc here to pull from.
How to use a comment bank when hand grading on paper
If you prefer grading by hand on paper, then you can still use a detailed feedback system. Learn how it works with this post (hit the next arrow to see essay feedback examples)
Lastly, you will use the essay comment bank for teachers to leave more detailed grading comments in less time. Again, I recommend spending more time using the comment bank during the writing process, but you can also use it to grade the final essay. To make sure students actually read their final feedback, try this strategy:
You can find everything you need to make the most out of your essay grading comment bank in my Fast and Focused Feedback System. Here are the options I offer:
High School Fast and Focused Feedback (over 600 five star reviews!)
Here’s to more growth, better feedback, and less time grading! If you want even more essay grading tips, check out this post: 5 Tips for Grading Essays Faster While Leaving Better Feedback