I read the Ferris article, "Preparing Teachers to Respond to Student Writing," this week and really enjoyed it. It gave me helpful ideas about how to best respond to student work. She writes the article from the perspective of how she helps new teachers learn about and address feedback issues. So it's from a teacher preparation program perspective. It was still very helpful and reading it was timely in that I just finished providing feedback to all of my students personal narratives.
I also really like Ferris's list of guiding principles of written teacher commentary. Here are some principles that Ferris suggests that I didn't do: "refer to previous work and progress that you see", "do not feel that (the teacher) should address every single problem they see on each student paper,"(I did) and "avoid appropriation." On the latter, I find it really difficult, as Ferris says, not to try to make the paper "perfect." And yet instead, I whole-heartedly agree with Ferris, that "the most important end-product, is each student's progress and increasing awareness of and skill in using various strategies to compose, revise, and edit their own work." So, why is it so hard to leave well enough alone?
Some of the things that Ferris suggests in her article that I did/do with my own students writing: make sure "other students comment and provide feedback" (I was not the only one providing any feedback), "provide encouragement and constructive criticism," and "get to know the student through previous work in order to build comments around that."
Later she talks about the kinds of guiding questions that can be used in feedback of student writing. I really enjoy providing feedback to my students. Once they receive the papers back, I conference one on one with them. According to Ferris, this is also a recommended practice. Just like it is better to provide criticism or feedback to someone in person instead of, for example, writing it in an email, I think the same goes for student feedback on writing. Not only should they have it in writing, but also be able to hear if from the teacher. Make it more of a dialogue where the student can clarify, ask questions, and summarize the important points of the feedback.