Jaime Patterson | November 2015

Grading Hacks

I am sure you have already made lists of changes you wish to employ as you enter the second quarter. We all have a growing list, but that is the beauty of education. We are constantly learning, growing, and reflecting along with our students. However, all that growing can leave us feeling overwhelmed. With professional development, staff meetings, common planning, lesson planning, collaboration, grading hacks, and some even working on advanced degrees, we enter sleep deprivation.

One secret, which takes much trial and error, is cutting down that grading hacks time! The longer you teach the more tricks you find to grade quickly and effectively… To get you started, here are a couple of those tips you can use today!

Grade On-The-Spot

We all know the magic of holding a clipboard, but actually putting grades on it saves time.

  • Grade your introductory activity on-the-spot. You can circulate, discuss various answers, and grade it all at one time.
  • Focused Notes The Cornell Way can also be graded on-the-spot (see the article here). Require students to bring highlighters and colored pens to class, and you can grade their notes just by looking at a highlighted section.
  • Giving a quiz? Grade it with the class and input the grade on-the-spot.
  • Giving presentations? Grade it using a rubric on-the-spot. Don’t forget to grade the audience as well!

Chunking Grades

Who said every word has to be graded every time? Choose different sections to grade. However, don’t tell the students until the grading hacks is done and you are discussing the results.
Writing Assignments

  • Grade only the thesis, intro paragraph, evidence, signal phrases, body, or conclusion. Give them ample feedback on that section and have them review that feedback, and take your previous suggestions into account before they turn in the next assignment. Then choose a new section to focus on.
  • Have students highlight the one sentence, or one paragraph they feel most proud of and only grade that section

Trade & Grade

Peer grading can be a little scary, but if you set distinct parameters it can be beneficial to both teacher and student. You can also grade the other person grading hacks.

  • Have students modify each other’s work. Exchange papers and choose one sentence/paragraph to revise based on academic language or syntax…then grade the revision.
  • Have student graders read the work and provide one question and one suggestion. The question and suggestion can focus on content, format, syntax, diction, or teacher’s choice.
  • Have students grade each other’s work using rubrics, and walk around to gather their grades while they move onto the next assignment.

Students can and should be writing everyday, but that doesn’t mean you have to grade every word. Don’t be afraid to chunk your grading and choose one major writing assignment each month to complete a full grade.

Piquès & Pirouettès

About the Author

Dr. Typhani Harris, author of Putting the Performance in Performance Task and Stop Teaching, brings over 2 decades of educational experience to The Institute. Originally a high school English Language Arts teacher, Dr. Harris transitioned into a dance educator who cultivated an award-winning collegiate style dance education program at a public school in California. Prior to joining the Institute, she was an educational leader and instructional coach specializing in preparing new teachers in secondary urban schools.  As the Executive Director of Academic Affairs, Dr. Harris maintains courses, conferences, and the accredited certification program at The Institute.