Athena Lester
By: Athena Lester
July 26, 2019

The Essentials in Writing Scoring Service: What You and Your Homeschool Student Need to Know (Pt 1)

The Essentials in Writing Scoring Service: What You and Your Homeschool Student Need to Know (Pt 1)

On August 1, the 2019-2020 Scoring Service begins! In this service, we assist homeschool families in grading the writing of their middle school and high school students.

The Scoring Service has grown from one scorer to five in the last four years, and our customer base has tripled! As we have expanded and adapted, we’ve done our very best to make this service easy and useful to you all. Currently, it operates online through Canvas by Instructure, which allows our team to easily view and return feedback on your students’ compositions.

Every program has its quirks, however, and certain questions have come up a lot about Canvas and other technical aspects of the service. Here, I’d like to share some important information about the technical side of the Scoring Service. These are matters that may help you decide whether or not to purchase the service for your student, or perhaps you are already a customer and would like to know what you’re in for. Either way, let’s dive in!

Common Technical Concerns about the Scoring Service for Homeschool Students

 

1. “I don’t know how to use Canvas or even what it is! How can I use the Scoring Service?”

Many customers are nervous about using the program because they never have before. But don’t worry! Not only does EIW provide you with step-by-step instructions and video tutorials about exactly how to use Canvas (here), but our Customer Service Team is also ready to help! If you don’t know how to get set up or how to submit a composition or any other problem, our team will be more than happy to walk you through the process personally. You are not on your own!

2. “Why does the service require specific page formatting? Why does it matter?”

The service requires typed compositions in a specific format for several reasons:

1) The service operates online. In order to ensure the readability of the papers (unmarred by blurry scans or pictures), they must be typewritten in one of the basic fonts.

Also, the service focuses on composition skills, not penmanship.

(Check out our other blog post about introducing the computer to your student’s writing program here!)

2) Specific requirements for papers—like font size, margin size, and line spacing—prepare homeschool students for higher levels of education that have rigid guidelines about submissions.

Homeschoolers often have little to no concept of the not-content elements of homework assignments, because why do they need to care? Their teachers (aka, their parents) only have one student in the class! They know what assignment the paper is for and who it belongs to, and as long as it’s readable, that’s all that matters, right?

Not at the college level, no. The Scoring Service prepares homeschool students for collegiate requirements. You don’t want your kid to be like those previously-homeschooled college freshmen who don’t put their name on anything. Or like my elder sister, who did twice as much work as she needed to on a paper because she didn’t know what “double-spaced” meant.

Bonus: Specific formatting rules train your student to read ALL the instructions thoroughly.

tl;dr: Formatting rules are in place for readability and college preparation.

3. “Why do you require students to have their own email addresses? Why can’t my children share one email?”

Let’s say John Homeschooler is in tenth grade, and his sister Mary Homeschooler is in seventh grade. They will use the service for their respective levels and sign up with the family email—homeschoolingrox@email.com.

John sets up his Canvas account under the name “John” and the email “homeschoolingrox@email,” and he joins the Level 10 course. However, when Mary goes to sign up for her Level 7 course with the email “homeschoolingrox@email,” she will find that the email already has a Canvas account associated with it, and it’s under the name “John.” Mary will need to create a new account with a different email address so that she can submit under the name “Mary.”

Now let’s pretend John has a twin brother named Sherlock Homeschooler who also will use the service for Level 10. John and Sherlock cannot share an account in the same level because they will have access to only one set of submissions slots. John and Sherlock (and Mary) need their own Canvas accounts, so they each need to use a separate email.

tl;dr: An email is required to set up an account with Canvas. Each account represents one student and is listed under one name. Therefore, each student needs their own email address for their own account.

Note: You do not have to allow your student access to a personal email if you don’t want them to have that yet. The email does not have to be their email; it just has to be an email. You can create an email and give your student the login credentials for Canvas without giving them the login info for the email address.

4. “Can I keep track of what my student is doing in the Scoring Service?”

Yes! Canvas has an Observer option that will notify the observer of all activity in the student’s Canvas account, including submissions and grades. Ask our Customer Service Team about this option!

These are some of the main technical questions people ask us about the service. Keep an eye out for Part 2, which will discuss common concerns about how to actually USE the Scoring Service, what feedback is like, and what to do with it! We want you to get the most out of the Scoring Service, and we are always here to help!

Athena Lester

Head of Scoring and Curriculum