Do you drag a big bag of papers home with you each evening? Do you spend your night and weekend hours grading? It’s time to reclaim your life. Use these tips to avoid taking papers home to grade.
How to Avoid Taking Papers Home to Grade
My first few years of teaching I spent every available minute grading and planning. I didn’t have much of a life outside of teaching. I was still living at home, so I could dedicate all my time to my job.
Then, I got married and had children. Now, I don’t have a single second outside of the school day to do my grading. I had to find ways to get it done in less time.
Here are the tips that have helped me the most. Now, I very rarely grade during my evenings and weekends.
#1 – Use your time at school wisely.
I know it’s tempting to spend your mornings, specials, and lunch chatting with other teachers. It’s so easy to get caught in a conversation when you’re making copies, and before you know it 30 minutes are gone.
Set aside time to grade. Go into your classroom and close the door. Sit at your desk and get through a whole set of papers. Don’t let anyone or anything distract you until you are done.
Some papers are easier to grade than others. My math exit tickets are pretty quick and easy to grade. I bring them to lunch with me each day. That way, I can check them while enjoying my lunch and talking to my teammates.
When I give a test, I start grading it as soon as my first student finishes. I carry a clipboard with my answer key and check the papers as I circulate. Sometimes I’m able to grade the whole stack of tests before my last student finishes.
#2 – Speed up your grading.
Find a grading system that works for you. I like to grade one page of a test at a time. I look at my answer key, memorize the answers for that page, and go through the whole stack. Then, I move on to the next page and continue grading until I get to the end. This trick cuts my grading time in half.
When I’m grading writing or other longer assignments, I’ve found that doing a few at a time goes faster than trying to do the whole stack in one sitting. My eyes get tired, and I slow down after I’ve graded a few writing pieces. That’s why I divide the pile into groups of 5. Getting through 5 writing pieces is a lot less daunting than a stack of 25. Yes, it takes more days to get the grading done, but the minutes spent are significantly less.
#3 – Grade only the most important papers.
Every little thing you assign doesn’t have to be graded. I decide at the beginning of a unit what assignments I’m going to use to complete my standards-based report cards. Those are the only papers I take the time to grade.
These are the items I take the time to grade:
- Math Tests
- Common Core Standard Assessments for Math
- Math Exit Tickets
- Science/Social Studies tests
- Friday Comprehension Checks – Reading Literature Assessments/Reading Informational Texts Assessments
#4 – Have students check their own work.
This can be a big time saver. I don’t use it as much in third grade, but when I taught 5th grade, my students checked their own homework. I posted the answer key, and if they had any questions, they were able to ask them. Now, my students only answer about 3 math problems each evening, and I just quickly look at them in the morning.
#5 – Put assignments on Google Classroom.
Google Classroom is one of my favorite things! This online resource saves me so much time because I don’t have to make copies. Plus, paper isn’t wasted. I use Google Classroom for most of the assignments I don’t plan to grade. I like to have paper copies of my tests and other assessments for parent teacher conferences. Anything else can be digital, and the parents can actually see what their children have been doing by logging into Google Classroom at home.
Google Classroom also makes it very easy to see who has turned in an assignment and who hasn’t finished it yet. I just check through the students’ work to see if they completed the assignment and did their best work. I don’t have to take a whole stack of papers home to look through for incomplete assignments. My back loves Google Classroom, too, since I don’t have to carry a heavy bag home with me.
What Do You Think?
How do you avoid taking papers home to grade?
Let me know in the comments below.
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