Efficient and Effective Grading
April 18, 2007
There will always be papers in our grading boxes, but I have found that creating a variety of assignments and varying their lengths helps tremendously in cutting down on the work. These are two of my favorites.
I have the kids peer conference and use the PA Rubric for Effective Writing ( MS Word, 33 KB, 1 pg.). During the conference, I have them use writer-based questions to modify their writing. Before leaving the conference, students write on an index card what they are going to change in their own papers, stories, poems, etc. The index card is a quick assessment of what they are writing and the power of the conference.
Sometimes we will have an edit-the-paper workshop. I put a piece of writing on an overhead and divide the room into discussion circles. Working in small groups, students may do one of three activities:
- create a radical revision of the piece presented,
- offer a piece of writing as a positive criticism, or
- write a letter to the writer with suggestions and revision comments.
All this writing is valid and easy to assess and grade. I still have a pile at the end of every marking period and spend countless hours grading, but throughout the marking period prior to getting the final pieces, I do get a break. I am passionate about creating effective writers, and the best way I know of doing that is to create an environment where students can write, discuss and share. When I get overwhelmed, I just think of the many anecdotes that I have recorded in my teacher journal, have a cup a tea, promise I won’t do it to myself again, and finish the pile.