Saturday, December 4, 2010

Guest Blogger Lori Johnson on "Tips for Grading and Handling Student Conferences"

Johnson, Lori LWI 25 Here's a guest blog post from Lori Johnson, a legal writing professor at the William S. Boyd School of Law at UNLV.  She attended one of the Legal Writing Institute One-Day Workshops yesterday at California Western School of Law in San Diego.  Her comments here are from the panel on Tips for Grading and Handling Student Conferences:

             With stacks of memos awaiting grading, this new legal writing professor made her way from Las Vegas to the LWI One-Day Workshop at California Western School of Law in San Diego.  Expecting some helpful tips, and a pleasant reprieve from the grading that awaited, I was surprised to find that the One-Day Workshop had so much more to offer.  I had an opportunity to meet other new legal writing professors in my region, network with the impressive panelists, and participate in an open and collaborative environment.   

            I found the panel on “Grading Papers and Handling Student Conferences” particularly helpful.  Alison Cato (California Western School of Law), Suzanne Rabe (University of Arizona), Tracy Turner (Southwestern), and Mark E. Wojcik (The John Marshall Law School—Chicago) shared timely tips on every aspect of grading and conferencing.  Several of the panelists suggested a strategy that I may try to employ to conquer the mountain of memos awaiting me – typing up a list of numbered common comments and referring to the list as you provide marginal comments on the memo.  This strategy permits the professor to provide more in-depth commentary on a particular problem on the typed sheet (including examples of how to correct the issue), rather than simply pointing it out to the student without guidance.  It also permits accurate references to course books and manuals, so the student can understand that the comment is justified and grounded in the materials.  Finally, it permits the professor to quickly and easily address repeated mistakes, by referring the student back to the same number on the typed sheet for recurring problems. 

             I am very thankful to Alison, Suzanne, Tracy, Mark, and all of the panelists and organizers of the One-Day Workshop at Cal Western.  The conference energized and inspired me to dive headlong into grading season and the new semester, armed with some insightful new tools and strategies. 

Lori D. Johnson
Legal Writing Professor
William S. Boyd School of Law/UNLV

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