How to Use a Writer’s Handbook for Instructive Evaluation

Handbook for Writers: Excellence in Literature, Johnston and CampbellA good writer’s handbook makes it easy to offer specific, constructive feedback. If you have used a handbook such as Writers INC or the Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers, you know that information is categorized into numbered paragraphs. These numbers allow you to direct the student to exactly the instruction he or she needs to fix an error or improve a skill. 

For example, if your student is having difficulty with subject/verb agreement, you would look in the table of contents of the Handbook for Writers and find that subject/verb agreement appears in section 1.8 on page 242. Here’s what you’ll see:

Writer's Handbook sample - Excellence in Literature Handbook

On the student’s paper or the evaluation rubric, note the section number so that the student can visit the handbook, read the paragraph, look at the examples, and see how to correct the error. It is quick and efficient, and best of all, much more helpful than just telling the student to be sure that the subject and verb agree.

Remember, evaluation must be constructive and consistent, and using the writer’s handbook in this way can help you make it happen.

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