Grading: Let’s Make It Faster, Stronger

Oct 22, 2013

gradingWhatever your thoughts are on Kanye, the man writes a catchy lyric. . . Now that that don’t kill me, can only make me stronger…

How dorky is it to admit that his rap makes me think of grading? Particularly for secondary teachers. . . Insert first round of report cards right around the corner. Insert homework grading, classwork grading, test grading, quiz grading and participation grading. Grading.Is.A.Lot.of.Work.

My own husband teaches sixth grade all subjects (except science), and assessment is a BIG deal. Enter second song. . . Killing me softly. . .

Grading is important. And powerful. And useful. It’s just hard to keep up.

I recently polled some of my favorite secondary Together Teachers from around the country on ways they make grading just a lliiiiitttttllle tiny bit more efficient. Hey, even 15 minutes saved is some extra sleep, right?

Everything on this list assumes you are carefully thinking about what you assign and you’re clear on your purpose for grading it. Is it for effort? Accuracy? Completion? Mastery of certain skills? Once you know your purpose, you’re ready to begin.

Drumroll please. . . Top Nine Ways to Save Time Grading Assignments:

1. Select set times per week for grading to get yourself in the mindset, says Nilda.

2. Design your homework and assignments for easy scanning, says Jeff V.

3. Grade random problems that are aligned with targeted skills, says Nilda.

4. Grade as much in class and on your feet as possible. One way of doing this is asking students to have homework out on their desks when they arrive to class.

Ariel describes her great approach:

“Instead of giving a grade for an assignment that just needs to be completed, I sign my initials at the top of the page right in front of the student and read as much or as little as I have time for. My initials mean full credit. If the work is incomplete I sign my initials and write ‘½’ next to it, indicating half credit. Students love the initials, and it’s very quick. I don’t have to think about how many points to give.

Speaking of Ariel, her awesome new book about secondary literature instruction is available!

5. Provide answer keys and have students self-check.

6. Beg your significant spouse to read your grades to you while you enter them, says Sue.

7. Number students and have them write said numbers on their papers for easy data entry.

8. Create stickers or stampers for frequently given feedback (e.g. “incomplete sentence”).

And a bonus number nine from my days of teaching fifth grade all subjects. . . Use popsicle sticks or some other means of random assignment to select two students per day for THOROUGH homework checks, while the others get marked for completion only. This keeps everyone on their toes!

Discussion Question: How do you make grading both effective and efficient?