Do you love to grade papers, especially on the weekend!!! Nope!! This has NEVER BEEN ME!! I am sure there are some teachers out there who love grading, I mean I don’t know any but I am sure there are some out there somewhere. But one thing I can tell you is that I always put it off until the last minute. And if you are neurodiverse( you think, learn and process information differently than others) like me, Then this is probably one of these tedious tasks that you really hate. So if you are neurodiverse or just need a fresh look at the grading process keep reading, this is how my neurodiverse self grades papers.
I learned some of my best skills from a vet teacher who also happens to be a neurodiverse just like me!! This is what I learned to do.
Have student Grade their own Papers
I said what I said.. Students learn so much more when they grade their own papers. One benefit is that students can see their results in real time. I notice that this allows for a lot of “Ahha” moments. Like ”Oh , if I would have done this instead of this I would have gotten that right.” “Yes”. The next thing that may happen is that that student may say, can I fix the rest of my answers. To this I always say yes. The point of grading papers together is so that my student can see what they did wrong. If that student realizes they missed problems because of a small mistake, then they learned something and that is the point.
Grade as a Group
We grade papers as a group. In my classroom, just like all of you I was out number at least 25:1 each year. That means , there are 25 other people capable of helping me grade all these papers. So that is what we did. We don’t grade every single assignment as a group but we do grade the majority of them together.
We did have rules. No pencils out, grade in any color other than black unless it’s black pen. If you see your neighbor with a pencil say something. “We are a family and when you are wrong we tell you.” One thing I was always sure to do was to remind students why they needed to be honest when grading. I would tell them. This is for me, I need you to be honest so I can help you in the way that you need it. If you cheat, I don’t know I need to help you. if you have built a relationship with your students this will work pretty easily.
There will be a time when someone is caught cheating. I have that student throw their paper in the trash and call their parents. Generally that student re-does his or her work at recess. This process has very few repeat offenders. Sometimes you will have to reprimand students but do it with love.
Teach student to Calculate their Score
This is the really simple way I teach them to divide 100 by the number of questions. For example if there are 10 questions on the paper they know they must count by 10’s.If there are 20 questions count by 5’s, if there are 5 questions count by 20’s, and so on and so on. This also teaches them important math skills!!
I record grades with ease. Once we are done the students know it is time to bring me their papers so I can record their grades. I keep my “offline gradebook,” on a simple clip board. I call the first 3 names. The first student hands me their paper, the other two stand back, until the student in front of them is done. That student shows me their paper and then stacks it face-down in the graded basket. I call the next 3 students and the process repeats until we get to the last student. When the last student puts his paper in the graded basket he puts a paperclip on the stack. This process takes about 5-6 minutes. Now the stack of papers is graded and in alphabetical order. This will make it super easy to return or review when I have time.
So when do I put these grades into my grade book? Anytime I have a free moment which is rare but because I have done all the hard work up front, adding these grades to my digital or online gradebook only takes a matter of minutes. Remember my offline gradebook? My offline grade book is organized in alphabetical order so when I input grades in my online gradebook I can literally go straight down my list and quickly enter the grades. I usually take more grades than I need each week. If there is a week that I don’t have time to enter grades it’s no big deal because I still have plenty from the week before.
My last and most important tip is the easiest. Stop grading EVERYTHING!! You don’t need to grade everything you assign. Some things are for practice and some are for a grade but it all counts towards your students’ development of that particular skill. I explain it to my students like this. Pilots don’t become experts on their first try, They don’t jump in a plane full of people without extensive practice. You need practice so when you fly your plane it doesn’t crash.
So here are my simple tips Grade as as group,Have students grade their own paper, have grading rules, teach students to calculate their own score, have a simple routine for collecting assignments and recording grades and stop grading everything.My hope is that this process will help you streamline grading and recording papers ,so you never spend another weekend grading.