On the Go
I make it a point to carry work with me. I’ve graded papers at some crazy venues: doctors’ offices, extracurricular events, on the field before games. . . . It never ends!
I like to give shorter assessments. Often I can learn as much about a student’s knowledge from two or three thoughtful questions as I can from 20 repetitive ones.
Day by Day
I schedule a paperwork task for every day of the week. On Mondays, I grade, Tuesdays are for lesson planning, Wednesdays I write my parent news-letter, Thursdays I correct vocabulary tests, and on Fridays I write behavior reports.
I find it’s easy to get bogged down in making notes on writing assignments. With rubrics, you can simply circle a category. Students see where their weaknesses are, and we go over specific instances of those weaknesses when we conference.
—J. Robin W.
I do a lot of “1, 2, 3, 4” grading. I give a “1” if kids put their name on the paper and not much else, a “2” if they need more work on the concept, a “3” for a good effort but not always accurate, and a “4” if they did what they were asked to do even if they didn’t do it perfectly or it took a couple of tries.
At our school, all of the teachers put their lessons on Google Docs. That way we can share our ideas with others in the building.
I don’t assign homework on the weekends, and I give students free time on Fridays for board games, art, and the computer. This allows me to write lesson plans for the next week without staying late or lugging manuals home.
Help from on High
My school has a program where kids in the upper grades are sent down to assist the lower grades. They are a huge help in filing, stapling, and getting materials ready.
When I ask a question during lessons, I have students write their answers on miniature dry-erase boards. That way I get immediate feedback and it keeps me from taking a stack of papers home every day.
Checks and Balances
I check homework with children as they arrive, scanning to see if there are misunderstandings. I either help the child then or make a note to help him or her later. Classroom work is done together or we do self-check as a group.
The Long View
At the beginning of the semester I do a long-range calendar on Excel that plots my lessons, assignments, and due dates. I then transpose this on a weekly lesson plan book as the semester goes by. I tweak it as we go, since no two classes are exactly alike.