Do you ever feel like you spend WAY too much time grading papers? There were definitely seasons where I felt like I constantly had a stack of papers on my desk or in my bag to grade. I would pack a stack of ungraded papers in my school bag each afternoon with the intent of grading them at home, only to bring them back to school the next day ungraded. By the end of the week, I had a huge stack of ungraded papers that left me wanting to toss them all in the trash. Anyone else guilty of this? It took me several years of teaching to figure out how to “work smarter, not harder” when it comes to grading papers. I have included five tips below with the intent of helping you save time grading papers too!
1. Use digital assessments.
Digital assessments are my FAVORITE way to save time grading papers. Students love working on the computer, and I love that grading takes place immediately. Its a win-win for everyone! I have included some of my favorite digital assessments below.
- Create a Google Form assessment. Google Forms, one of the FREE Google Classroom applications, is a tool used to make quizzes or surveys. Type up a few questions for a bell ringer/ exit slip or create a full unit assessment. Google Forms allows for multiple choice, short answer, drop down menus, and more. To have the form graded completely for you, choose a closed-answer format like multiple choice. Simply assign the form to your students as a quiz, sit back, and watch the assessment data roll in.
- Use a website or school-purchased program. Free websites like www.readworks.org and www.multiplication.com will grade digital assignments for you. School-purchased membership sites like www.spellingcity.com, www.studiesweekly. com, Accelerated Reader, www.brainpop.com and www.brainpopjr.com all include digital assessments. Most sites even have the option of printing out results so you can send grades home to parents.
- Make your own online assessment using quiz platforms. There are many FREE options to create your own online assessments, including www.quizizz.com and www.quizlet.com. Another option is to use boom cards on www.boomlearning.com. Boom cards can be used for free, but a paid version with more options is available.
2. Create lessons/units that are multicurricular.
Another way that I have found to cut down on time spent grading papers is to use assignments that provide for multiple grading opportunities. One way to do this is to include reading and writing skills into your social studies/ science units. One writing assignment on a social studies topic could count as a history grade for content and a writing grade for ELA. The pictures below show how I did this with my France mini-unit.
3. Cut down on assignment size.
I remember as an elementary student having math pages with 30 problems of the exact same type to complete. Do your students really need to practice the same type of problem 3o times? Most of the time, you will know if a student understands a skill in 10 questions or less. Don’t create more work for yourself or your students. Give assignments with 10 or less problems or questions. You can always assign additional assessments if needed. Shorter assignments = less time spent grading papers.
4. Grade on the spot when possible.
It is certainly not always possible with a busy classroom full of students, but grading on the spot will save you time. As soon as students begin turning in assessments, grade them immediately. If the assessment has a mix of question types, just grade the multiple choice or short answer ones. Leave the open-ended responses to grade later. Not all of your students will finish at the same time, so this gives you time to grade many papers before everyone has completed the assessment. Give students an independent assignment to work on when they finish an assessment, which will give you time to grade the remaining student assessments. Students also love immediate feedback, and immediate grading allows for this.
5. Don’t grade everything!
Work that is meant for practice or simply a check for understanding doesn’t have to be graded. The purpose of an assessment is to let you know who “gets it” and who doesn’t. Assessment data is then used to drive future instruction. You can assess student understanding without actually grading papers.
- Have students do a self-assessment. Pull out some fun pens and let your students be the grader. Walk around to check student understanding or collect to gather data later.
- Give students dry erase markers to write answers directly onto their table/ desk. You can walk around the room for a quick check.
- Assess learning by playing a game on www.kahoot.com. Teachers can quickly gage student understanding as the game is played.
- Create on opinion meter within the classroom. Students move to sides of the room based on their answers to questions. For example, if the statement is true, move to the left side of the classroom. If the statement is false, move to the right side. This allows students to get up and move around, but also allows for you to assess student learning.
We all know that teachers have a million things on their to-do lists, so I hope these tips give you some time back!