Grading – How to Make it Less of a Herculean Effort #BCSLearns

“Teachers, nerds unite” at the Cult of Pedagogy blog.  Check out some great posts!  One I recently came across is timely as we embark on quarter 2 and all the formative and summative “grading” we do.  To help you with the giant that is grading, here are Jennifer Gonzalez’s 20 Ways to Cut Your Grading Time in Half.  Gonzalez suggests 20 ways of avoiding managing the Herculean effort of student grading and giving feedback more efficiently while still making it purposeful in advancing student learning (taken from the aforementioned post):

  • Don’t grade everything:
    • Pick just one – have the student choose the one assignment from many that best represents their effort and achievement within a concept area.
    • Spot-check items – check for completion and then choose just a few items to grade for correctness.
    • Spot-check students – scan everyone’s work for completion and then choose 4-5 students for close grading, making sure everyone gets feedback over time.
    • Emphasize practice and feedback – get students thinking about their work as opportunities to get better – metacognition, reflection and feedback not grades. See the 11-minute video below, “A Recovering Perfectionist’s Journey to Give up Grade.”
    • Batch score with holistic homework rubrics – “put student work into batches and give students a holistic 4-3-2-1 score on accuracy, completeness, punctuality, and neatness.”
  • Get students involved (check out the 3-minute Grading Smarter Not Harder Video below):
    • Grade papers as a class – providing instant feedback and answering questions.
    • Give away the answers – when students are finished with an assignment give them the answer key so they can figure out their mistakes and explain their thinking.
    • Set up answer stations for tests and quizzes – students go there when they’re finished and teacher checks for accuracy.
  • Get more efficient:
    • Grade as they work by moving  around the room giving feedback and conferring with students.
    • Have students compile collected work – so it can be graded all at once.
    • Grade one item at a time – on a pile of assignments.
    • Mark, comment, record, and reflect separately – mark correct and incorrect answers first, then give comments.
    • Shorthand your feedback. Develop symbols/codes and check out the 3-minute video below for a tip on giving feedback via rubric codes.
    • Automate your feedback – “develop a repertoire of phrases for student feedback.”
  • Get your files in order:
    • Set up a comprehensive paper and digital filing system.
    • Sort out online bookmarks.
    • Set up IN and OUT folders or trays.
  • When all else fails, just dig out:
    • Reward yourself
    • Get help
    • Have a catch-up day – for your students AND YOU!

Even a post from Edutopia.org by Rebecca Alber provides similar Tactics for Tackling the Grading Dilemma.  Compare these with the above tips:

  • The Power of Peer Assessment and Self-Assessment
  • The One-in-Four Rule (don’t grade everything)
  • The Stamping Method
  • Student Journals

And here are 12 more time saving strategies, then take a few minutes to view the videos below and to realize it’s not all about grades!

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