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Papers are defined by grade and basis weight. Understanding these two concepts is the key to specifying the right paper. We often get asked how can a 65 cover stock be heavier than text, well, we hope this will help explain that mind-boggling question. Use our easy online forms to place an order or request an estimate, or give us a call at We are open and ready to help, Monday through Friday, 8: Getting more specific, people identify papers in terms of their basis weights.
For instance; you may go from a 60 uncoated to a 70 coated sheet to keep the same thickness. What is basis weight, exactly? It is the weight of sheets of paper cut to a basis size. So, sheets of 25" x 38", 60 offset weighs 60 lbs. The basis size for bond is 17" x 22"; for text, offset, and coated 25" x 38"; and for cover 20" x 26". Within each grade there are other distinctions based on brightness, opacity, and fiber content.
For instance, there are matte, premium, and ultra gloss finishes to coated paper. In uncoated book, there is 1 Offset, 3 Offset, Opaque, and Lightweights. Our national waste disposal challenge has led to the increasing use of recycled papers. They need more help from me with this at the beginning of the year modeling how a mentor text helps me think about revising a piece of my writing and less as they get better at it.
It uses an analysis of a text to then make wider point about society. It ends with a list of suggestions. It has a few one-sentence paragraphs. And a quick note on grades: If the formula has always worked for them to get the grade that they want, they will be unlikely to try something different if it risks getting a lower grade.
Students need room to take risks with their writing in order to grow—room where there are no high-stakes grade penalties as even a possibility. Imagine if that risk came bundled up with a C grade on something? Would that student ever take a risk again? If I did the feedback on a piece of writing, I record in the gradebook the scores, comment codes, and some general comments I had about the piece of writing. If the timed write received peer feedback, I recorded in the comments box the scores, comment codes, and general comments that the peer reader determined for the piece of writing.
I have the students write these things on a cover sheet that they staple to the timed writes that they read and respond to so my data entry is quick and efficient.
So even though I have read everything in detail myself, I am able to record important data on each piece of writing that reveals both to me and the students how they are progressing with their writing. I can learn a lot about how students are doing by reading the peer feedback comments and zeroing in on the places in the piece of writing that I might want to examine based on those comments. And I leave a few notes when it seems necessary to me.
My data entry and review of their work for one class will take 30 minutes or less—something I most definitely can fit into my week without even having to take the papers home in most cases.
We need not be the sole feedback-giver in the AP Lit classroom. How do you work to share the feedback load with your students? In a reading workshop, students often read their own books at their own pace, books that they choose themselves. While there is space for this kind of independent reading in AP Lit, whole class novels are also important. When it comes to whole-class novels, there is so much room for student choice if you invite them to determine the focus of discussion with the text rather than making these decisions yourself.
This goes a long way toward engaging students. It also enables them to struggle with a text authentically as a reader, determining what about it seems most important to discuss in order to uncover meaning. He was my instructor in a week-long College Board institute at Illinois Wesleyan in the summer of Here are the steps of the process I employ to make our whole-class novels focused on what students decide is most important:.
I talked more about this in my post about inviting students to do the required reading in AP Lit. I do provide some supports to students as they are reading to help them with comprehension and to encourage them to keep at it the post I linked to above outlines this.
In my classroom in Illinois where I first taught AP Lit many years ago, I would crowd the class around the chalkboard on the side of my room, ask for two scribes, and instruct the rest of the class to tell them what to write with this prompt: So for our last book of the year this spring, we went low tech and used the white board in the classroom:. Lastly I asked them to identify what seemed most important. I did ask my students which approach they preferred, low-tech or high-tech, and some wished we had done the Padlet again, but most preferred the low-tech experience for the different kind of whole-class conversation it inspired.
I always have the schedule for discussion days ready to go on brainstorming days so that as we narrowed the conversation down to the most important topics, we could go ahead and plan out who would lead which discussion on which day. I always invite the students to assign one day and one topic to me. Then we fill in the other discussion days with students as discussion leaders and topics that they determine on their own.
And I give them resources: Our last discussion day is always a Socratic Seminar my Socratic Seminar guidelines are here. I always ask the same questions, one at a time, with several minutes of student-led discussion in between them: Is it a true argument about the human experience?
Why does it matter to you as a human being in the present day? How does this book change you? Having this in front of them during the seminar keeps it focused on their own individual reading experiences with the book rather than on what MY interpretations are.
But the seminar does give me some space to jump in with any big ideas about the text that I want students to be sure to think about. My students pointed to the example of the two black men arrested in a Starbucks in Philadelphia while waiting for a business meeting — we continue to struggle with race. Morrison offers us a framework to think about that struggle. So I made sure that at least some minutes of the Socratic Seminar asked students to reflect on that.
There are other items in the schedule up there—the passage analysis and the open question timed write. For each book, I devise some kind of passage analysis task that gets students deep into some critical portion of the text and place the task at a point in our discussion schedule so that the close text analysis will inform our further discussion work with the text.
For the open question timed write, I select actual open question prompts from past AP Lit exams that line up with what the students have been discussing with the text. This way, from the very beginning of our work with a shared text brainstorm to the very last thing we do with it open question timed write , the focus is on what the students find important about the text and supporting them as they work to interpret difficult works of literature on their own, rather than watching me do this important work.
I have benefited from this approach as well as a reader. I know the books pretty well that are on the AP Lit syllabus for my school. I could easily put together a set of discussion topics and plan discussions and lead them all on my own. Every reader brings a new set of life experience to reflect off of the book. Each class full of students gives me 30 new sets of eyes to consider a text.
And we each see something different. And wow, what they have taught me through the years…. In short, there is plenty of room for workshop-style student choice in an AP Lit class that requires students to read a set of novels together.
Create space for students to have their own interpretations about the texts and build a structure for the class to tease out and focus on those interpretations. Teach them how to read and make sense of works of literature—the best practice we can offer them in reading their own lives in our complex world. To the right is the grade distribution that describes how my students did last fall on the multiple choice exam over their summer reading books.
What would you conclude if presented with that set of data from your students: Given how notorious we ELA teachers are for writing difficult and specific questions over the books our students read, this appears to be pretty strong data suggesting that they did in fact read. Students wrote on a piece of paper how much of the assigned summer reading they completed and how carefully they read. I asked them for complete and total honesty because in order to teach them well, I needed to know exactly what I was dealing with.
I assured them that there was no grade penalty whatsoever attached to what they said, so it would not hurt them to admit to not reading if that was the case. Over half of them had completed one book only having read some or none of the second book. Two students completed neither book but read some of both of them. And two students read none of either of the assigned books. I saw a contradiction between what the multiple choice reading exam showed and what my students told me when I asked them.
Had I based my assessment over whether or not they had done the summer reading solely on the exam, I would have been pretty confident that the vast majority of them had read both books. But the majority of them had NOT read both books.
I read not even one of the assigned books and got a B in the class and a 5 on the exam. I was not actually surprised by how few of my students had actually completed the summer reading assignment. In fact, I surveyed a class of 30 students several years ago to get a sense of how much they read of what was assigned to them in school. Only ONE of the 30 students indicated that she had read every single book assigned in the previous year of school.
Most students could not recall even one title of a book that had been assigned to them. I want my students to read. And I want them to read because we must read to make sense of our existence as human beings. So if my goal is that my students will actually read the books, I need different data to help me see if they are hitting that goal.
So as I did back in August, I asked students throughout the school year to tell me about the reading, with complete honesty, with no grade penalty at stake. On the date we were scheduled to begin conversation about each book, I gave each student a note card and asked for an honest report about whether or not they completed that book and how carefully they read it.
The first book we discussed together in class was Gatsby. According to student self-reports at the start of the year about their summer reading, most of them had read the book in its entirety.
It was the book they had most likely read had they only read one of the two books. Most of them had NOT read it. This will be helpful information to pass along to my students next year.
Another consistent data point was the number of students for each book who reported to have only read some of the book—4 to 6 students. I would have liked to see that number decrease, and I will work on that for next year. When students wrote on notecards for me to tell me honestly if they read or not, I also asked for them to tell me how carefully they read.
It was here that I saw some real growth:. It takes much more time and effort to read carefully, which some students admitted to not having done in their notecards to me due to the difficulty of the text. Several students told me that they started out reading very carefully but then just wanted to get it done.
But the point here is this: If there are high stakes attached to these measures grades , then students might do whatever it takes to get the grade that they want. Often this includes things that they do instead of reading.
If they can still do fine on the traditional accountability measure with out reading, then why would they engage in the difficulty of reading the challenging literature that an AP Lit course asks of them? I am not okay with that. I will not use traditional accountability measures to get my students to read. If reading is so important, then we need to spend class time doing it. Students will learn to value whatever it is that we teachers decide dedicate minutes in class to.
Hence, my students have 30 minutes every Monday to read silently. I tell them that job 1 is reading the books assigned for class. Job 2 is reading other books of equal literary value I provided to them the list of authors recommended by the College Board for AP Lit. Job 3 is reading anything they want. I have some ideas for next year to provide a bit more structure to the independent reading a list of contemporary writers doing really incredible work like Jesmyn Ward, George Saunders, Mohsin Hamid, and Paul Beatty and some book clubs to help to cultivate some reading habits for life the Man Booker award winners and shortlist nominees has become a go-to for me in my own personal reading of late.
The 30 minutes on Mondays for reading has become critically important in my classroom. Many use this time to re-read sections of our assigned novels which I love. I also invite them to use a few minutes of it to head to our school library to browse the fiction section as needed. I can monitor their reading and have some brief reading conferences. And I always try to sit down for at least a few minutes of it and read with them.
It makes reading a thing we do together. In this way, working through the form becomes a learning experience—they can use it to check and hone their understanding of the text. I make it available as they are reading so they can check comprehension as they go, but I set a date for completion about a week or so after the book is due for class discussion. Of course we talk about the purpose of the interplay of past and present in the narrative once we get into our discussion of the text, but I designed the reading comprehension check to help the students to keep track of what happened—present vs.
Especially with a tough book like Beloved , students might give up if they have no help to make sense of things. There are many tools at their disposal that they can use to assist a successful reading of a difficult piece of literature. In a class like AP Lit, I have always wanted to have the entire text available for our work with it.
I do know, however, that my students need some help along the way for a successful reading experience. This becomes an opportunity for me to monitor what they are thinking about the reading and jump in to offer some clarification where needed. I also launch the reading of each book with a short presentation—who wrote the book, what was going on in the world when the book was written, what the key elements of the text are, what might be difficult, some essential questions to consider as they read, etc.
I also talk a lot with them about my own reading practice. I ask students every week how their reading is going. The form asks them how much time they spent reading in the past week I ask for 2 to 3 hours , what they read during that time, how the reading is going, and what their reading plans are for the next week.
I look over the resulting data to make plans for reading conferences, and cumulatively over the course of a semester, I end up with a detailed portrait of each student as a reader. This is way better information for me than a bunch of reading quiz scores. This information actually gives me a shot at helping students strengthen as readers—not just for my classroom, but for the rest of their lives. This is what I say to them on the last day of school, that their assignment is to read books that challenge them as human beings for 2 to 3 hours per week for the rest of their lives.
This is so critical. You can read much more about my approach to grades in my blog series on grading. But the relevant point here is that students may not be totally honest with us about their actual progress as readers if they know that there is some high stakes grade consequence for what they say about it.
I build a qualitative data record instead. It looks like this: They are what she typed into the weekly reading check in google form. I can use this to get insight into her life as a reader. Click here to see the entire series. When they sit down to write, so do I.
The first few I wrote were the poetry or passage analysis type of prompt. We all had the same text sitting in front of us, the same question to answer, the same blank sheets of lined paper, the same requirement for blue or black ink, the same chunk of time.
I discovered that the task is really challenging, and even more challenging with the limited time. I discovered that my brain maybe works more complexly than it did when I was seventeen—good because I could find more to write about but bad because it was complicated and difficult to reign in concisely in about 45 minutes.
The result of me writing with them was some first-hand knowledge of their experience and a better ability to coach them in my feedback as I read their work and talked with them as a class about how they all approached the analysis. We had a fruitful socratic seminar conversation the day before the timed writing, which is an excellent prewriting activity. My students have always struggled with clear theme statements that capture what they think a work of literature is asking of us as human beings, so as they spoke in the seminar, I made sure to point out the theme statements that naturally spilled out of the conversation.
And then I went home and spent my evening probably reading student papers and such per usual, not thinking anything of the timed writing task that was waiting for my students and me in class the next day.
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