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Assessing high school writing assignments

One of the key parts of the writing process is editing, with the expectation that the students will revise/improve their original drafts. Students need to have peers, rather than just the teacher, providing feedback about their writing. When students edit someone else’s paper, they become engaged in the learning process. Some students, however, may claim they can’t find errors in someone else’s paper. These students need reassurance that they are capable of participating in the peer review process. The teacher may want to place a paragraph filled with obvious errors on the overhead for students to analyze. Make sure that the paragraph has some good qualities so the students can point out both its weaknesses and strengths. Once students realize that they can find errors and offer encouragement to others, they should feel more comfortable in their job as peer editor.*

The following writing assignment was given to a class of twelfth graders after reading “The Prologue” to The Canterbury Tales. The directions for the assignment, the first and second editing sheets, and the grading sheet for evaluation should all be handed out at the same time. All parts of the assignment have been included here to help the reader better understand the editing sheets. While many generic samples are readily available, personalizing an editing sheet to your specific class and assignment should help you achieve the best results.

Chaucer writing assignment

Carefully read the directions and let me know if you have any questions.

“The Host” Persona

Scenario: Assume the persona of the Host who has kept a journal of the Canterbury pilgrimage. The pilgrimage is over and you (the Host) are writing a letter to a friend in London describing two of the pilgrims who made the journey with you. Include comments about their appearance, clothing, personality and any outstanding or unique traits. Be sure to make specific references to the text and include those references in quotes followed by a personal explanation of the quote. Keep in mind that your friend is not familiar with The Canterbury Tales. The information in the format, style and requirement sections will help guide you in writing the paper.


  1. Minimum length: 2 typed pages
  2. Double space using 12 pt. Times New Roman font with one inch margins
  3. Begin typing at the top of the page.
  4. Write from the first person point of view.
  5. Title page: Title is centered in the middle of the page with no quotes around the title.
  6. Put your name, due date, title of class and hour in the bottom right corner.


  1. Letter format. First person point of view.
  2. Introduction: Provide background information about your trip to Canterbury and possibly some information about the recipient of the letter. Explain why you chose the two pilgrims that you are writing about.
  3. Body: Two long body paragraphs providing detailed information about the two pilgrims. Be sure to include lines from the text in quotes or portions of lines and then explain what the lines mean in your own words. Document the quotes with the line and page number in parentheses right after the quote (e.g., 212, p.54). The paper will be written in your own words with quotes sprinkled throughout.
  4. Concluding paragraph: Sum up your feelings about the two pilgrims. Bring the letter to closure in an interesting way.
  5. Use transitions to connect sentences and paragraphs.
  6. Include sentence variety in your paper. You need to have two periodic, two strung-along and one combination sentence. Place a periodic sentence in [ ] , place a strung-along in ( ) , and underline a combination sentence.


All papers will begin with a grade of 100%. For every five errors in mechanics (capitalization errors, missing commas, missing apostrophes, missing words, etc.) 3% will be deducted from your score.

Each sentence structure error (comma splices, run-ons, and fragments) will result in a 2% reduction for each violation.
If periodic, strung-along, or combination sentences are incorrect or missing, you will receive a 3% deduction for each error.

I will begin grading your paper for its content once the deductions in mechanics, usage and style have been addressed. Careful editing, revising and proofreading will result in higher grades on the final paper.

You will receive a class work/homework grade for writing the first draft, the revised draft and for editing someone’s paper.

Chaucer Paper Editing Sheet #1
Chaucer Paper Editing Sheet #2
Teacher evaluation

*For further information about peer editing, see these two books:

Jago, C. (2002). Cohesive writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann

Moffet, J. (1968). Teaching the universe of discourse. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Key words: peer assessment, peer editing, evaluating writing, editing sheets