Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Grading Student Papers

I have seen over my time reading teacher blogs, and of course, in talking to teachers, about the problems of grading massive amounts of student work.

While I am not the answer man who can solve this age old issue for teachers, I can try to share with you what I do to help lighten the load and pass on a tip or two that I have seen.

First, I consider that I am teaching two subjects at the same time, history and social studies to seventh graders and how to be a student for these kids. I have had my students writing more this year than I have had them do in the past. Part of the reason is that I was going blind trying to decipher 160 somthing to 180 something student writings. This year, I found something in the AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) Program, of having history students write something (short biography, text section summary, a/v lesson summary, whatever, then create three to five illustrations helping explain what they wrote about. I really like the part about students creating some sort of illustrtation to help them explain their learning because I have found my students in recent years "art deprived" due to NCLB's pathetic emphasize on math and language arts. Ok, so now there is all this student work that needs evaluation. Note the term, "evaluation". So, I go back to my old, very long ago days of teaching a high school journalism class. I need not evaluate every one of their papers; their peers can evaluate them. First of all, I have students exchange papers for the puropse of providing feedback on the quality of the writing, data and illustrations. They are to offer positive feedback. This helps them see various errors in grammar, spelling, etc., see the data that is being written about from another perspective and offer their peers constructive critism to improve their work. After students have had a chance to make changes, re-write their work or whatever, then we grade them......does the paragraph have a clear topic sentence to introduce the subject? Is their data correct and sufficient? Did they conclude their writing in a neat manner? Do their illustrations help you understand the topic and data? I usually use an evaluation sheet for students to make notes, etc. on about the work they are evaluating. After students go over the evaluation sheet with the owner of the assignment, I then collect these so I can record the grades.

I also collect assignments and "grade" them on completeness. If they did all the work, they get "full" credit for it. Ah, but what about the accuracy of their answers? It is then the students responsibility to make sure they have the correct answers when we go over them in class. Never, never wait until just prior to test/quiz time to go over the work that is being tested/quizzed.....IMO, students need time to study it, go over it as part of the daily review they are supposed to be doing as part of their homework. So, when it is time for a test or quiz, they should have learned the material.

Another tip I saw for dealing with massive amounts of papers to grade is to only collect a small percentage of the assigned work. For example, randomly collect the work from one or two rows of students per class. The next time you collect work, collect work from students whom you did not previously collect their work. This can also be done by collecting from every other student, by alphabet, or some other means of scrambling up how you collect student work. I have not actually tried this myself, but if any of you have used this method, please share your results with us.

And lastly, just because you assign something does not mean you have to collect it and grade/evaluate it. We teachers cannot grade/evaluate everything ! There just is not time to do so and get the results back to our students in a fairly quick amount of time. And, most of us teachers wouldn't last long trying to do this; can you say "fried-out" ?

Thanks for reading my blog ! Your comments are appreciated.