Could correcting papers really be a significant problem for teachers? A high school teacher may collect 1-3 assignments or assessments daily per class. If that teacher teaches a six period day with 25 students per period, it is conceivable that a teacher could collect 150-450 papers per day. As a result finding a way to keep up with grading is of the utmost importance to a teacher. These are several tips for teachers to help keep up with grading papers.
Use every moment
One of the first commitments that a teacher must make is to make quality use of time. This means if there is a free five minutes while students complete a quiz or two minutes between classes, use that time to complete one item. It can be correcting one quiz, reading one paragraph of an essay, or correcting one problem on a math worksheet. It may seem like it wouldn't make a difference, but over time it adds up by the end of the day.
Correct simple papers together in class
Students gain knowledge from correcting simple assignments together. The benefits of correcting the assignment in class are that it gives students instant feedback and they can see what their errors were. And added benefit is that it lessens the load for a teacher to correct. It is best used with assignments that are easier to correct.
Use the Promethean Board or Smart Board
Increasingly classrooms are incorporating interactive white boards into the curriculum. If handheld devices are available, the teacher can incorporate quizzes and tests by having students electronically respond to questions. At the end of the session the teacher can send the data to an Excel spreadsheet. The assessment is corrected electronically and is then ready for the teacher to place the grade in the grade book.
A common mistake the teacher's make is to check whatever happens to be on the top of the paper heap. Unfortunately, the result is that some papers just end up continually working to the bottom of the stack. Make sure that newest submissions are at the bottom of the "to do" list. This way even if all papers are not caught up on a particular day, the older papers are done first.
Avoid time wasters
One reason that teachers do not always finish correcting papers is that they become absorbed into conversations with other teachers in the teacher's workroom or after school. One conversation may not seem like a problem, but several conversations reduce time available to correct papers.
Have keys organized
A helpful and easily completed method to lower correcting time is to be organized with keys to tests and quizzes. Having these keys available is important for quick correcting. If every time a paper needs to be corrected, a new key needs to be created, it lessens the correcting time. Always file papers in an organized fashion because it will help the teacher the next time it needs to be used.
Checking objective questions
A fast way to correct objective papers is to line several of the papers next to each other. Do not check these one by one because it will increase the time it takes to check the entire set. Use a ruler that will follow across all of the papers to make sure that the key is used for the corresponding question. Check one page at a time on several papers. Don't check one test and then another. Instead always go page by page correcting the entire class's page one, then two, and so on.
Don't comment on everything
Often teachers think that they have to correct everything on an assignment. Instead of looking for every possible problem that exists in a paper, choose a specific component to correct. On a daily work assignment only check a couple questions and have the other questions be a completion grade. On essays, it takes a long time to make comments. A good rule is to write one compliment and one area for improvement. This allows the teacher to not comment on everything and lessens the time necessary to correct those assignments.
To reduce the number of papers submitted consider having the students complete some assignments as a group. As a result a teacher may have 6-8 papers instead of 35 papers to correct. The teacher will need to formulate the group assignment so that all students will participate in the group, but it can be very helpful when used judiciously.
Although many teachers are committed to correcting all papers each day that are collected, but realistically events will occur that will interfere with that goal. This can be family arrangements, extra-curricular activities or other responsibilities. Perhaps it isn't realistic to check every paper on a given night. Instead set the goal of correcting one or two sets and only bring those sets home. Don't bring more papers home that realistically can be accomplished. Then the tendency is to be overwhelmed with the amount that needs to be corrected. Limiting the load to couple sets per night creates an accomplishable task.
Have a plan for late work
Late work from students due to absences or other factors can be a problem because these papers come in after teachers have already corrected the rest of the papers of that kind. Developing a plan for dealing with late work can be helpful to keep the papers tamed. Always have a consistent place for make up work to be turned in. Write the name of the student that has work out on a folder with a list of the assignments out. Put the key in that folder. When the student turns in that assignment, it is then easier to correct that assignment because the key is ready. This also keeps these papers from becoming mixed with other papers.
Keeping a gradebook
Having the papers organized for checking can make an important difference when correcting papers. Make a separate folder for each set of papers. Write the name of a student that is absent or has not turned the papers in on the folder or on a sticky note. This is a reminder to the teacher to note missing assignments. Unless the school district requires a manual grade book, skip the step of recording grades in a manual gradebook. Keeping two grade books, manual and electronic, is making twice the work for a teacher. Instead enter the grades directly into the grade book and print a paper copy of the grade spreadsheet each time grades are entered. This will give the teacher a back up. Enter several assignment headings first, then enter the scores on those assignments, This will reduce the amount of time that is spent entering grades into the computer.
End of the grading period
Treat each day like it is the end of the grading period. Teachers have a tendency to put a more intense effort into correcting papers when it comes to the end of the grading period. Treat each day with that kind of intensity and it is much easier to keep up with paper grading.
Grading papers requires a significant amount of time for teachers. While it is important for teachers to see written work from students, the teachers need to look for ways to collect less written assessments while at the same time be efficient with their time in order to keep up with grading papers.