Typhani Harris | August 2016

The Grading Combination from The Teacher Locker Series

Welcome to the Teacher Locker Series where we are unlocking secrets and revealing the perfect Grading Combination of resources to have an effective and successful start to the new school year.  Inside the Teacher Locker, today is:

5 Ways to Reduce Grading Combination

Oh, the Grading!! As we maneuver through the school year, we will inevitably be faced with a mound of papers begging for our attention.  This mound will grow larger and stronger until we just can’t take it anymore!  Below is a grading combination of ways to ungrade, which will be a huge time saver and will diminish the mounds of papers.

Welcome to Un-Grading 101

Grading will haunt you. It piles higher and higher and you feel like you can never recover. So, stop grading. One of the tips we teach in the course assessment for makers is to teach students how to evaluate themselves and how to rationalize and justify their final grades. Portfolios work very well in this situation. Have students store their assessments within the classroom, and then as the grading period comes to an end have students lead conferences with you where they go through their body of work and justify their growth and performance. Here are a couple ways you can cut downgrading immediately.

1.Grade On-The-Spot

We all know the magic of just 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 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!

2.  Chunking Grades

Who said every word has to be graded every time? Choose different sections to grade, don’t tell the students until the grading combination is done and you are discussing the results.  One example where chunking grades work well is with writing assignments.

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 are most proud of and only grade that section

3.  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 grader.

  • 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.

4.  Weekly Portfolios

Have student compile their work from a week into a portfolio.  As the end of the week have students choose one assignment that they feel best demonstrated their understanding to turn in for a value.  Have students include a rationale of why they chose the assignments.  This justification will allow students to reflect on their work.

5.  Weekly Recap

Similar to the weekly portfolios, students can provide an evaluation of their weekly progress including evidence of their learning.  Create a rubric where you turn your objectives or standards into “I can” statements.  Students then choose specific pieces of work from the week that demonstrates their learning and their ability to say “I can” to a learning objective.  Have students organize the documents in order of their statements, and highlight specific areas in work where the demonstration of learning can best be seen.  Then as you grade, you are just looking at the highlighted evidence the students have provided.

Students can and should be producing every day, but that doesn’t mean you have to grade every word. Don’t be afraid to organize your evaluations in a way that allows for students to own, justify, rationalize, and reflect on their personal learning process.

Grab your Un Grading Combination 101 Tips below!

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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 Chief Academics Officer, Dr. Harris maintains courses, conferences, and the accredited certification program at The Institute.