If you knew how to grade papers faster, you’d be able to leave school on a Friday afternoon with an empty bag!
I’m dreaming, right? Can anyone actually do that?
I can. I haven’t graded one assignment outside of school hours in 5 years. Never. Not one.
Look, during school hours, I work hard. But after school, no, sir. That is my time.
Here’s how I get everything done during the school day:
Design your assignments to be easy to grade.
- Use multiple choice questions. The standardized tests in science are mostly multiple choice questions but they’re not rote memorization questions. Design your multiple choice questions so that they test application skills. For example, “Your rover on Mars encountered an area with a lot of seismic activity but no volcanic activity. What kind of boundary is it?”
- Include rubrics in your assignments so you don’t need the extra step of attaching it to the document.
- Limit the length of the assignments. “Write 70-100 words to answer this question…”
- Remember your job is to grade, not to edit. In science, I grade students on the quality of their answers, not on their writing ability. I may circle misspelled words or grammar, but I don’t belabor it.
- Use self-grading assessments. Google Forms is amazing. Here’s a free assessment on Google Forms you can try out.
Let technology work for you.
- Use Doctopus to score Google docs.
- Use Google Forms for multiple choice assignments. Set them up to calculate the grade for you. When everyone is done with the assignment, open the spreadsheet and copy the grades into your grade book. Done.
- Keep a file of commonly used comments. For all written assignments or lab reports, I compose a doc for myself that contains the comments I anticipate using. “Use your data to support your conclusion,” is one I use a lot! Today, I used “Tension at a normal fault causes the hanging wall to move downward compared to the foot wall” about 30 times. Then, when a student makes an error, you don’t have to type your comment all over again – just copy and paste.
Maximize your time in school.
- Check your email before school, at lunch, and before you log off for the day. Leaving it open all day is an invitation to be disturbed.
- Work in your classroom during your prep if you can. Better yet, close the door. I love my coworkers and I love hanging out with them. But get your work done.
- Go to the copy room/mail room/main office or where ever you need to go once a day. I make a trip around the school at lunch – drop off forms, pick up mail, make my copies, whatever I need to do. If I didn’t get it done today, I’ll do it tomorrow.
- Decide how long you will grade for before you take a break. I’m usually in the 20-30 minute range, then I take a 5 minute break and then go back at it until the end of the period.