It’s the end of the day. You’re packing up to head home. What do you have to reach for? A stack of papers. As teachers we always have papers to grade. Sometimes we have so many papers that we put them in “file 13.” However, grading doesn’t have to consume your life! I have 6 easy grading tips to thin your teacher bag out!
Tip 1: Don’t Grade Everything
Now, if you have a file 13 like I did, you are already doing this and good for you! This easy grading tip is all about giving yourself an out! There is no rule that says you have to grade everything that your students do. As a matter of fact, you don’t even have to look over it. This does not mean that you have to give your students busy work but you don’t have to grade everything. You need to pick and choose what you are going to grade based on what you deem as truly “assessment” worthy and the requirements your district puts before you.
For example, you will most likely want to grade the first independent practice your students use a particular skill on so you have a base for where they are at. Then, you will want to grade a mid-way piece of evidence, and finally the end product. Does that mean you don’t look at anything in between? No, but don’t feel like you have. You can also look at center work and do a grow and glow (see below) each week for students! This easy grading tip makes your life simpler and helps cut back on time that you can spend on your non-teacher life.
Tip 2: Divide and Conquer for Easy Grading
You have other little bodies in your classroom that can help you with this monstrous task. If you feel the need to grade everything, including the little things, then you should utilize the students in your classroom. Allowing students to grade their own work is an easy grading tip that teaches them honesty and that it’s ok to make mistakes. Too often students feel like they need to be perfect. However, learning from our mistakes is one of the best ways to learn. When I did this in class, I did not have them put their grade on top of the paper. I would look through them and put the grade on. I also did this just to go through their work and it wasn’t something that I was going to grade. I love this for facts tests and spelling tests because they are quick and easy to do!
Tip 3: Focused Grading is Easy Grading
All too often, especially when we are grading writing, we feel the need to grade EVERYTHING. When you are grading spelling, grammar usage, mechanics, etc, you are going to be grading forever. Instead, focus on one skill or standard and grade for that one thing while you go through their work. This will help you focus on one thing instead of 100 things. Now, this easy grading tip helps you save time, but it also makes it easier to spot mistakes in student work.
Tip 4: Use Grading Lists
Now, let me preface this by saying I did not invent this. My friend showed me this and then I created a similar concept to go with. This is a simple piece of paper that has their student number, their name, and then a place for a grade. In addition, it has a place for the skill being worked on. I used the ones I created specifically for my centers. I would put the piece of paper on top of the exit slips and just write down their grade there. Then, I just have to take that little piece of paper and put it in my gradebook.
The coolest thing about this easy grading tip is how you can use them in your centers. If you are a part of my Learning Centers Made Easy Membership, you know we have colors. I make these lists on the colored paper that is the student’s group. Then I would collect them and keep them in groups so I could give it back to them quickly and easily. This made organizing so much easier. In addition to these being easy to use with centers, these are editable. You can find this awesome product here!
Tip 5: Choose a Date as an Easy Grading Day
All of these tips are great for saving time. However, I feel like this is the golden goose of easy grading tips! All you need to do is choose a day and set a timer. Now, you might think this sounds crazy, but it works! When you choose a time and focus on the grading task for a reasonable amount of time, you’ll get through more grading than you think you will. Doing this will get most of your grading done while you are at school. If you are using the grading lists, you can get the papers back and off your desk right away without having to worry about dealing with papers.
Tip 6: Glow and Grow
I completely understand the want to put something on every single paper that your students do. An easy way to do this is to do a “grow” and “glow.” I have used this so often in center activities and it saves so much time. All you have to do is write down one thing they did really well and one thing they can improve on. Now, I did not do this for every student. What I would do is say I was going to do this for every student once during the week. I would use those grading lists and put a check by the student’s name when I gave them a grow and glow so I did not miss anyone.
Being a teacher in general is difficult. There is always so much to do, and you end up burning the candle at both ends because of it. Using easy grading tips can take one of the biggest time sucks away. While grading can be a monster of a task, it doesn’t have to be if you utilize any of these six easy grading tips!
Until Next Time…
Keep Being Educational Rock Stars