When I grade papers, I always like to grade kids on an easy rubric for them to understand. I use something from the 6 + Traits of Writing. I like the well-rounded way of grading - and it's easy to use. As a student, I always like to know how teachers grade - what they expect from me. As a teacher, I've always tried to incorporate this into my grading - I want students to write and write well - but I want them to know that their ideas are important to me. If they get a C-, it isn't because I don't think they're smart. It's because they don't proofread!
In case you're wondering, these are the Six Traits
•Ideas, the main message;
•Organization, the internal structure of the piece;
•Voice, the personal tone and flavor of the author's message;
•Word Choice, the vocabulary a writer chooses to convey meaning;
•Sentence Fluency, the rhythm and flow of the language;
•Conventions, the mechanical correctness;
•and Presentation, how the writing actually looks on the page.
from - http://educationnorthwest.org/resource/503
Each trait is given 5 points- and description on what 5 points looks like for each trait, what 4 points look like, and so on.... Uusually, I don't have a lot of questions on why the student got a 33 out of 35. It's pretty clear cut and non-emotional. I want kids to see What Matters - It needs to be clear cut. Kids can't guess.
A lot of kids take the grades on their papers very personally. I like to take time for them to understand that I appreciate them opening up their hearts to me. I want them to know that I think they have amazing potential. Some kids don't open up to me - and that's ok - but they may not have a very high mark on their "ideas or voice" - and that's ok - they can still get an A-.
I actually miss grading papers. I will have my Spanish students write more this fall - I can use this rubric for them.