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COMMENTING TIPS FOR GRADERS

1. Pray for the student before and after you comment on their course.

2. Read all of the student’s answers before you begin commenting so you have as much information about the student before you begin. i.e. The student may say they are “lost” on lesson 1 but “saved” on lesson 8. etc.

3. Comment on all comments that the student makes. There are three major guidelines to follow:
   A) Always encourage.
   B) If their comment is good we reinforce what they have said with a comment and with
scripture.
   C) When their response is in error, we correct them with a comment and with supporting
scripture.

4. Our policy is not to address their comments on “Tongues” or “Healing” unless they are adding the manifestation of these gifts as necessary to the salvation message. We have found that if we do address these items, then the students tend to “fix” on them at the loss of learning the many good things they are being taught in the lessons.

5. Respond to the student’s answer as if you were asking them the “What do you say ?” question. Then read the student’s comment as though they were responding to the question being asked. For your comment then, respond to the student as if you were simply continuing the conversation, i.e. responding to their answer as if you were talking with them. What would you say from God’s word to encourage, correct, or reinforce what the student has said? What scriptures would you use to support your response?

6. The following Emmaus courses have a page at the end where the student checks a box regarding their salvation. It is good to make a suitable comment with scripture to the box he checks: “Born To Win”, “Greatest Man Alive”, “Men Who Met The Master”, “A Journey Through The Bible” and maybe some others.

7. One or two scripture references are sufficient to support your comment. Typically a student will not look up more than that.

8. If the student’s answer is correct it is important to make it clear in your comment that you are simply encouraging them in their right answer and not correcting him. You see, if this is not clear the student is prone to think we are correcting them instead of encouraging them just because something is written in response to their answer. This can be easily accomplished by one or two words at he beginning of your encouraging comment like “Right”, “Correct” or “Amen” etc. There are many ways of course but irregardless of how, it just needs to be clear that we are encouraging the student in what they say if they are correct.
 
9. Even when correcting the student’s wrong answer do it gently and be an encourager always.

10. “OK” or “Correct” by itself is not a sufficient comment to the student’s answer. Scripture references alone, without a substantive comment, are also not a sufficient response to the student’s answer. Our comments should have substance (content that is edifying and accurately communicates biblical truth in an encouraging way).

11. If you need ideas for what to say for a comment here are four ideas:

A) You can look to the Emmaus courses which you completed and received back with comments. The comments you have received back can give you ideas. If they are suitable for the student’s answers you are commenting on just put the comment you have received back into your own words and use it as a response to the student’s answer you are commenting on.

B) You can also look to the “Commentor’s Guide” for ideas. The words in the Guide are not meant to be used as “ready-made comments”. Primarily, they are intended for the purpose of letting you know what the verse is about next to them. If you want to use the words and verses in the Guide as ideas for comments just put the thought of the verse/words into your own words to form a comment to the student’s answer. The words in the Guide are not meant to be copied word for word. The words in the Guide are usually not in complete sentences and in order to write a comment to the student like you are in a conversation with them you need to put the thought you would like to communicate to them into a complete sentence.

C) A third idea is to simply say back to the student what he has said by putting his thought into your own words if he is correct and then simply add a supporting scripture.

D) Lastly, you may kind of have an idea of what to say to the point where you have a key word to your thought but you are struggling as to how to complete the thought. In this case you can look up that key word in the concordance in the back of your Bible or a Strong’s Concordance to find a verse that says basically what you would like to say. Once you find a sufficient verse just put it into your own words to form a suitable comment to the student and the supporting scripture to support your comment is simply the verse you have put into your own words to generate the comment. Asking yourself : “What do I think this verse is saying to me?” or “What does this verse mean to me?” will help you “put the verse into your own words”.

In regard to ideas for comments, over time as you treasure the word of God in your heart the Spirit of God will then bring it to your remembrance when it is needed and then you can use the verse to generate a comment to share with the student. God really wants to speak His truth through different personalities as He exampled for us in the Bible. This is why it is so important that if we use the above ideas we put our comments into our own words.

12. Be sure to respond to what the student has actually said and not just write a standard comment which is unrelated to what they have said. It should be obvious to the student that we have listened to what they have said and spoke back to them about what he has said. We may be the only persons in their life that are caring enough right now to listen and respond in this way. Our comments to the student are kind of like a letter and we all know what it is like to get a letter back from a friend or family member who did not respond to anything we said or answer any of the questions we had asked them.

13. Using the student’s name periodically in your commenting is really beneficial because it personalizes your comments to the student.

14. We do not need to correct a student’s spelling except for two circumstances:
v When they write “except” when it should be “accept”, i.e. it should be “I have accepted Jesus as my Savior.” not “I have excepted Jesus as my Savior.” This is important because to “except” basically means to “refuse” or “leave out” whereas to “accept” means to “receive”.

When the student does not capitalize words which refer to our One True God, i.e. Father, Son of God, God, He, Him, Spirit, Holy Spirit etc. etc. We should capitalize references to Him because He is the One True God and also because by doing so we are communicating to the student that we are referring to our One True God and not any false god or person.

A small letter which explains to the student why his spelling may be corrected is inserted into each student’s course so when you do correct them they know why and won’t take the correction the wrong way. Also the letter should hopefully cause the students to correct themselves so you do not have to continue to.

15. Put your first name or name you go by for instructing on the first page of the course on the line marked “Instructor” even on courses which have no answers to comment on. If there is no “Instructor’s” line then write it in along with your name below the student’s address.

16. Make sure the pages are in order. The torn edge goes toward the inside.

17. Use any space you can find on the student’s page to write your comment. If you need more space feel free to include a separate sheet of paper or go to the back of the page etc.

18. Use a different color of ink than the student uses to comment.

19. Take note of the student’s vocabulary etc. so you can be sensitive to not use too big of words and to not “speak above his head” or give them something they may not be able to digest i.e. milk vs. meat etc.

20. After commenting on a course each student should get an encouraging closing comment with supporting scripture written on the white cover sheet. The closing comment should be addressed to the student and signed by the instructor. The idea of the closing encouraging comment is to begin it with something encouraging about the student’s course (this personalizes your comment). The second part to the closing comment is a thought from the Word of God that you received from the Lord/His Word during your Daily Quiet Time etc. The idea here is that you have received an encouraging, edifying word from Him which you are now applying to your life and now you want to pass it on to others who will hopefully apply it to their life and pass it on. You can use this second part for all the courses you comment on in one week if you’d like, only the 1st part needs to be personalized for each course. It is not good to use Part 2 of your closing comment in the future because you may end up putting the same closing comment on the same student’s course. If you have two or more courses of the same student it is only necessary to put a closing comment on one of them.

Here is an example:

Part 1 Part 2
Frank,
[I enjoyed reading through your responses.][ It is amazing how God’s word changes us as we receive it and apply it to our lives. Let us give thanks daily to the True Lover of our souls. We belong to Him. Press on.]

Philippians 3:12-16 Instructor’s Signature
  
The following are some more examples for the first part of the Closing Encouraging Comment:

I trust you are enjoying these lessons brother/sister.
I am glad to see you are sharing Christ with your friends! Glad to see you are in God’s word my friend.
Glad to see you know our Savior, Jesus!
I noticed you have a good grasp on justification by faith alone.
It is best to write the Encouraging Closing Comment as soon as you are finished commenting on the student’s course so their answers are fresh in your mind so you can make a personal comment about their answers for Part 1.

21. If you want to write something on questions the student does not answer you can but you do not have to, in fact if we only comment on ones the student actually answers it is probably an encouragement to them to answer all the questions.
Address

Write-Way Prison Ministries, Inc.
PO Box 461582
Garland, TX 75046

Contacts

Email: wpm@writewaypm.org
Phone: 972-840-9798
Fax:      972-864-9692