Sunday, July 25, 2021

Cut Back on Grading and Paper Clutter NOW!

If you've got stacks of ungraded papers piling up (or shoved in drawers), this post is for you!

Let’s be real, you have enough on your plate and don’t need to be grading unnecessary amounts of stuff. It’s time to think about what really matters and let’s get rid of some of that paper clutter AND grading.

Tip #1: Stop assigning tons of homework

Re-assess what you are currently assigning for homework. Ask yourself these questions:

1. What is the purpose of this assignment?

2. Is the purpose of this assignment being met?

When I first started teaching, I viewed homework as an opportunity for students to get the extra practice and support needed to gain mastery. When I reflected on the questions above, I realized that the students needing the most support were the most were very ones NOT DOING THEIR HOMEWORK!

It was a constant battle chasing down assignments (and trying to keep track of who did or did not do each assignment).

When I truly thought about it, most of my homework assignments weren’t even truly serving the main purpose. So, I stopped.

I stopped assigning math homework (because parents tried to undo what I was teaching anyway) and stopped any type of spelling homework (because I didn’t want my students memorizing words).

Instead, I only assigned quick and easy assignments that truly supported my students’ learning. It was something I knew they could do independently (which is what I wanted). 

You can read about my nightly homework routine here. The type of assignments that I did assign, for the most part, I was able to do a quick spot check, mark my grade book, give it a star then return it back to students. 

Tip #2: Use Task Cards

I love task cards because you’re able to provide your students with LOTS of practice and you only use up 1 sheet of paper!

Teaching math using the math workshop approach allows you to differentiate work, differentiate instruction, and provide lots of practice with little paper clutter.

One of my stations would be ‘hands on’ where my students would be doing a scavenger hunt around the room solving task cards. Since my rotation blocks were short, they would work on completing that 1 set of task cards throughout the week. I would also typically assign 1 worksheet to check up on how students’ understood the small group lesson for the day. 

For the entire math block, I would only be collecting 1 piece of paper for every student (and the task card sheet at the end of the week). 

For more ideas on how to use task cards in the classroom, you might enjoy this post.

Tip #3: Grade Right Away!

My last tip is to grade whatever assignments you need to right away! This one probably seems like a no-brainer, but might be one of the most difficult because you'll need to get yourself into the HABIT of doing this.

Find some time during recess, at lunch, or after school. Make it a rule to yourself that while you're grading, you won't get distracted by anything (no scrolling social media or checking emails).

Not letting the grading pile up will be a tremendous help later. Plus, grading along the way will provide you with valuable information about what your students know and/or need extra support with. 

Tip #4: Create a System for Grading

Grading multi-page reading assessments used to take forever, until I came up with a system! Grading 1 page at a time for all students makes the grading 10x faster (this is especially easy with multiple-choice questions).

I then write how many points the student earned on the bottom right-hand corner of the page. That way, when I’m done, I can add up all the points then record them on the front of the assessment. 

Until next time!

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