Mr. Steel


I. Late Procedures Reminder:

As is clearly explained on your student contract, and as was articulated repeatedly in class, major assignments (Personal Responses and Critical Essays) must be submitted on time. Late papers will not be accepted. Instead, students who have been late in the submission of their papers will be required promptly to schedule a time either before or after school in the Test Centre. Foolscap will be provided, and all late papers will be handwritten or hand printed on this foolscap in the Test Centre, not outside of the Test Centre. Computer submissions will not be permitted. These papers will be turned in at the end of the hour when the Test Centre closes. Student papers that are submitted late WILL NOT be provided optional re-writes, nor will extensive comments be written on these papers. Late papers will be scored using the standard provincial rubric. Students who do not show up at the scheduled time to write their late papers in the Test Centre will be required to meet with school administrators for appropriate disciplinary action. This system of dealing with late papers is designed to encourage students not to take zeros on papers, and in order to avoid numerical late penalties affecting student work assessment.


II. Submitting papers via email:

As explained carefully and repeatedly in class, Cochrane High does not reimburse me for my ink cartridges; I have over 100 students, and I cannot afford to print off all the student papers I have been receiving, despite repeated warnings. Papers must be submitted in class unless there is some emergency (you “have to work,” your printer is not working, or your printer is out of ink doesn’t count: that’s your responsibility). Feel free to use school printers, and I welcome hand-written/printed submissions as an acceptable alternative. No papers should be emailed to me unless you have been ill or otherwise unable to attend class on a due date. I check my email every day, and every paper that is submitted and received by me, in turn, receives a message of receipt.


FORMATTING email submissions:

As mentioned in class, I cannot open .docx files; I can only open .doc files. I will not accept attachments in other formats. If you cannot send your work in the .doc format, then you can cut and paste your work into the body of your email and send it that way.

I will not accept minor assignments via email. These must be submitted in class by the student.


III. Optional Re-writes on Majors:

I always try to write a considerable number of comments on every first submission of a paper. However, I do not write extensive comments on LATE papers, nor do I write extensive comments on re-writes. I offer a two day window between the time papers are handed back, and the deadline for optional re-writes. As emphasized previously, I do not accept any re-writes unless the original paper with the original rubric is stapled to the re-written paper. Re-written papers are re-assessed and the higher of the two marks is taken. The lower mark disappears. Remember: there is no guarantee that a re-write will afford a higher mark, but your mark will not decrease due to a re-write.


Dealing appropriately with comments and suggestions on papers:

1. Students will not approach me immediately after having received their paper to complain. Students will instead take the paper home and think about what could be done to improve it. This involves taking into consideration some of my editing suggestions. This process must be abided by, since it preserves classroom etiquette and it helps students learn to manage their emotional reactions to constructive criticism. Students must show the courtesy of reading through all of the comments earnestly and thoughtfully. Students must come up with a plan to improve their paper based on these comments.

2. Remember: It is not necessary to change everything in order to improve your work. You can certainly start small: take a few of the suggestions and make improvements based on them. The suggestions I offer you are meant as constructive comments; I write so much on your papers because I care about helping you improve your written work, and because I’m interested in what you have written.





I. The Minor Mark

As has been thoroughly explained since the beginning of the term, minor assignments are marked and assessed in a manner that best recognizes the variety of work habits and modes of student achievement. Half of the minor mark in each unit is derived qualitatively (i.e.: How well done is a particular assignment?), and the other half hinges upon quantitative measures concerning student work ethic and academic consistency (i.e.: How diligent are you with submitting all of your assignments on time and in a state of completion?). The quantitative mark also indicates that a student has moved a certain distance through a particular curriculum and engaged in a learning process longitudinally (i.e.: The student has worked his or her way through a sufficient number and variety of questions and problems to have been exposed to the sorts of thought processes involved with these particular assignments, and the student has made bold attempts to deal with such questions and quandaries – whether or not these attempts were “successful”). The quantitative mark is intended to encourage students to feel secure in “taking risks” with their writing and exploring new ideas in their writing without worrying about whether or not everything they write will be meticulously measured and inspected for its insight and grammatical construction. Hence, this quantitative mark serves to provide students with the freedom to learn and to inquire, and invites them to try their hand at often challenging and unfamiliar texts in a non-threatening way.

It is my experience that this system produces parity across student achievement, and it encourages students to recognize their areas for improvement. For example, one student might experience challenges with crafting high quality written responses to texts, but also might be a very hard worker, and like the old adage says: “Slow and steady wins the race.” This system allows such students to have their area of excellence recognized, while at the same time it goads them to work on their areas of weakness. Or you might examine the opposite scenario of a student who submits superb work, but lacks the commitment to putting in a good effort every day. This system also recognizes such a student’s strengths, while pushing him/her to adopt different work patterns in order to bolster academic achievement.

The minor assignment chosen for qualitative assessment will be the same for each student in order to maintain parity. Students do not know which assignment will be chosen, so they ought to ensure that every on of their minor assignments is of good quality. Students ought to ensure that all of their minor work is complete, since if they have not completed the item chosen for assessment, they will earn a zero for the qualitative component of their minor mark in that unit.


II. The Opportunity to Improve through Make-Up Minors


When students are unhappy with the marks they have earned in their minor areas, they have the opportunity in my class to improve. If a student earns a low mark in a given submission, or perhaps hands in a minor late or not at all, that student can peruse my website: www.mrsteelsclass.com for a “make-up minor” assignment. These assignments must be submitted by the student in hard copy. I take every one that is submitted into consideration; make-up minors first apply to any missing assignments, and next to qualitative deficiencies. As with majors, when minors are assessed qualitatively, I only take the higher of the two marks: a mark will never decrease due to extra student work. Remember: in order to preserve the integrity of this system (and to prevent it from becoming an exercise in scribing or plagiarism), I do not hand back make-up minor assignments.


All marks are transparent and available in great detail on HomeLogic.






Sean Steel BA, BEd, MA, MA