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Is Your Energy Sink Grading Papers?

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Does it seem like there’s always papers to grade? Are there stacks of paper on your desk and a few more on the shelf?

What information do you need to adjust your teaching and plan future lessons?

Students need timely feedback, does it take an hour or more every day?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Grade one assignment each day and set up the other assignments for students to grade themselves
    • Plan ahead so you have time to grade an assignment that needs more time, like an essay
    • Learn to quietly grade papers during a staff meeting IF your attention isn’t needed for a topic. If I teach fifth grade, for example, and the discussion is on planning a meeting for incoming kindergarten students, I can grade a set of papers, especially if there’s a pattern in the answers ↓
  • Make a pattern in the answers so it’s quick and easy to grade
  • Walk around while students work and spot check answers (thanks for the suggestion Karen!)
    • Students need to practice computation skills. I walk around checking in with them and support students who need to clarify a skill or go on to the next skill.
    • Students need to use capitals and punctuation in their writing. By walking around and checking for this as they write, students won’t have to go back and put in punctuation or capital letters. They’re reminded as they write, so they practice these important skills.
  • Check one part of each assignment, not the whole assignment. Choose one written answer or five math problems. Check more if the answers are unclear or not correct.
  • Have a capable student or adult volunteer grade papers for you.
    • Put a number on each student page instead of a name to preserve anonymity and avoid concerns about confidentiality. The parent can list the grades on a sheet with numbers to make them easy to transfer them to your grade book.
    • Send an assignment to a parent that doesn’t need to be returned immediately, maybe an assignment collected on Friday can be returned to you on Monday. Remember to send a sheet so they can record the grades for easy transfer.
  • Can you assess students during class? While the class solves math problems, call students up one at a time and talk very briefly about a part of the assignment you want to focus on with students.
    • A comment at the time from the teacher is powerful compared to written comments that may or may not be read by the students.
    • You can gain a sense of the student’s confidence with the skill you’re assessing based on your brief interaction.
    • A student might be willing to privately share information or a concern about the skill.
    • If you’re teaching basic facts, for example, asking a student to answer a few facts can give you a clear sense if he’s knows his facts.
  • Give credit for completed work, spot checking just a tiny portion of the assignment. Completing an assignment is a skill students need to have. For students who struggle, this is their chance to consistently get a good grade and be rewarded for their perseverance.
  • When you have many assignments to grade, make sure to build in breaks and a small reward for completing the assessments.

Do you have other ideas to share for grading papers?

One thought on “Is Your Energy Sink Grading Papers?

  1. Thanks for the grading tips! One thing that I slacked on last year was grading papers and giving feedback in a timely fashion. Once the stack gets too big… it is just too daunting to approach sometimes. I’ve read that the feedback needs to be given within 48 hours or it is rendered useless, so these tips will help me stay on top of the grading!

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