Often times, teachers find themselves lugging home giant piles of grading so that they can devote the time they have during the school day to all of the other tasks they need to complete.
One of the most frustrating parts of teaching is being able to find the time to grade. As teachers take on larger and larger classes, the amount of grading can pile up exponentially. Time spent grading can also take away from a teacher’s ability to develop a relationship with students. If teachers are shutting their classroom doors every free period to grade, time to build student connections is also lost.
I admit that I take grading home on occasion, and sometimes, it takes me a few hours to complete. Still, I don’t think teachers need to devote every weekend hour to grading and feedback.
Over the years, I’ve developed some grading hacks to make sure that my grading time is as short and sweet as possible. Below, I’ve detailed three grading hacks that you can start implementing in your classes next week!
Grading Hack #1 – Stop Assigning a Grade to Homework
I have two potential comments for any exit tickets I hand out in my classes. As I utilize standards-based grading, my exit tickets are either marked “complete” or “incomplete.” Any needed comments are added in the margins, although it’s rare that they are necessary. I do read all homework assignments. Still, they don’t take me that much time, and I can zoom through them quickly and just mark one of the two boxes. Students know that they should redo any “incompletes.” Sometimes, I even grade exit tickets with students while they’re working independently. Any work I can grade during class time is work I don’t need to grade during my free time.
I also make sure to only assign homework when necessary. I only assign homework when I need to assess or reinforce student understanding from a lesson. I also assign homework as a review for a quiz or test. Students recognize the meaning in homework completion, as they know that I don’t assign it superfluously. (Yes, students really do complete homework even when it’s not graded. See my blog post on Standards Based Grading).
By not having to grade homework (or obsessively check for cheating on homework), I have much more time available for more
Grading Hack #2 – Every Summative Assessment Needs a Detailed Rubric
Rubrics do take some time and effort to create up front. However, every time I grade any type of summative assessment, I thank myself for the time and effort I put into creating a detailed rubric. The best part of rubrics is that they can be reused every year! They might require some tweaking and modification, however, the basic format can remain the same as long as the standards don’t change. I even include rubrics on tests and quizzes.
Rubrics help me to hone in on the standards and skills I want students to master. By providing the rubric to students, I also make the expectations for any assessment very clear. When it comes time to grade, all I have to do is circle a box. I also often create a list of common comments as a checklist with the rubric. Instead of having to write out each comment separately, I can check off the boxes instead. Much faster. More importantly, the students still
Grading Hack #3 – Stop Correcting A Students Work for Them
Whether grading essays digitally or by hand, I make sure that I don’t correct a student’s essay FOR the student. Instead, I make comments about what THEY need to correct themselves. For instance, I might leave one comment for a student telling them that they failed to capitalize proper nouns. I won’t correct every capitalization for them, that they need to fix on their own.
With the comments I provide on essays, I guide students towards improvement, however, they have to make those improvements. This works for any type of comment, whether it be grammatical or structural.
When grading digitally, I also keep a list of common comments in a comment bank along the side of the essay (I grade in Google Docs). When I need to apply a comment, all I need to do is click copy and paste. For handwritten essays, I also have a list of common comments pre-typed so I can check off any
It essential that my students are still receiving purposeful and detailed feedback. However, I don’t need to hand write all of the feedback I provide. With these grading hacks, I have significantly lowered my grading time.
Do you use any grading hacks for your students? Let me know in the comments below.