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Monday, September 17, 2018

Decreasing Grading Time Series: General Strategies to Engage and Assess Students

Are you struggling to keep up with grading? Do you spend hours upon hours grading?  Do you struggle with creating and grading assignments?  Then this post is for you!

Decreasing Grading Time Series: General Strategies to Engage and Assess Students

Don't Grade an Entire Assessment

Instead, choose the top questions that represent the concepts you want to assess.  For example, if you have a worksheet with 20 questions, grade four of the best questions and multiply by five.

Why it works:  You may be asking yourself why you would create extra questions and have students complete them if you will only be using part of them for assessment and grading.  The answer to that is that it is extremely useful for practice, particularly for classwork.  So the students get extra practice and you get an assessment that doesn't take ages to grade.

Give "Completion Points"

Students get a set amount of points that represent the quality of their effort and output.  For example, if you present the student with a 20-question assessment and they work diligently for an hour to accurately complete ten of those questions, they might receive full points, such as 10 out of 10.  If you were strictly going on percentage, that same student would receive only a 50%.  Is that really an accurate representation of their knowledge?

Why it works:  This works well for classwork that is being used for practice and formative assessments.  As you walk around to help students, you instinctively know which of them truly understands and which students are not quite there yet.  Awarding points on a sliding scale based on this is often better than a straight percentage.  So you are using your observations and knowledge of your students to accurately and quickly grade them daily.

Use Rubrics

Create rubrics with a certain focus for each assignment.  Many teachers like to save time by creating online rubrics using RubiStar.

Why it works: This is great for lengthy assignments like the Science Fair, essays, or labs.  When I was grading essays, for example, I picked writing traits that needed to be graded and only focused on them.  I ALWAYS graded for capitalization and punctuation, but I picked a few other writing traits  for each essay to grade as they were explicitly taught in class, such as adverbs or figurative language.  That way, I wasn't grading for EVERY little detail, which would take HOURS.  

Use the Open-Ended Strategy 

It starts with giving an open-ended assignment where students can use notes, etc to look up answers.  They can then use just the assignment to take the multiple choice version. I would make the multiple choice higher level or multi step questions, so there is still a level of recall and differentiation to the assessment.
Why it works:  Sometimes this is just as valuable for assessment as asking students to recall the information on their own. It takes longer, but it assesses multiple levels of understanding and levels the playing field for all students.  You can combine this strategy with the ones listed above, such as using a rubric or only grading part of the assessment, to make everyone's life easier.

Sometimes you Just Have to Grade the Whole Assignment

I know this doesn't go very well with the theme of this post.  However, if it's a state assessment or school-mandated assessment, you probably don't have a choice.  Ask your grade-level cohorts if you're ever in doubt.  If you aren't required to grade the entire assessment though, use the strategies above!

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