Wednesday, February 5, 2014

I Just May Have Figured Out This Grading Thing

Dear teacher friends and friends of teachers,

I think I've figured out how to not let grading take up every ounce of my free time but still give students meaningful and useful feedback. Here's what I've been trying in our classroom:

1. Keeping a classroom blog - Every Sunday evening, I update a blog with the week's plans, free writes, and homework. Using the page views function of Blogger, I've been able to see that most students actually check the blog at least once a week. Not only have the rates of work completed skyrocketed, students (and I) are much more organized. This organization helps with the next change.

2. Students keep track of their own work - For our most recent units, I've given each student a handout that lists the unit's essential questions, objectives, and assignments. At two points during the unit, I have a day or two of student-teacher conferences where students show me the work they've completed and explain how the work has helped them work toward the objectives. I can then grade the work on the spot with the buy-in of my students.

3. Grade one class a day - I have five classes and there are five work days in the week. For those larger assignments (such as our upcoming research paper), I plan to grade one class a day. If I get behind, I can use the weekend to get caught up. So far, however, I haven't had to do that.

I still think there are a lot of systemic issues that prevent me from giving the number of assignments and assessing them exactly how I think would most benefit students. Schools, classes, and teacher caseloads should be smaller. We should have more time with students on a daily basis to assess work more holistically, but I think these new systems are addressing those issues in the most immediate way I can. What do you use to keep your classroom humming and students receiving feedback that helps them grow?  

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