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Technology Saves Time Grading

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 -- Scott Sterling

No teacher has ever said grading papers is the best part of the job. I’ve seen English teachers cite that as the reason they left the profession. Even the ancient Greeks formed their schools around oratory skills just so they didn’t have papers (or tablets, or fig leaves, or whatever) to grade.

Let’s figure out some ways to use our modern technology to get us out of this mess.

Handheld, digital rubrics

Performance-based grades should become more popular as the spirit of the Common Core is followed. This means you need rubrics and easy ways to grade them.

Easy Assessment is a $1.99 iDevice app that makes rubric grading simple. With Easy Assessment, you simply move some sliders around as the student is performing the task. Class lists can be imported from Dropbox and grades can be exported as a spreadsheet. It doesn’t completely keep you from grading, but it saves a lot of time.

Pre-grading essays

Totally automated writing evaluation solutions aren’t quite reliable yet, but they’re getting close. However, the ones that are out there are much more complex than spelling and grammar checkers. Have your kids start feeding their papers to a site like PaperRater before they turn it into you.

This way, you can feel relatively comfortable that the proofreading and style has been corrected, so you can concentrate on the big questions you wanted answered in the assignment.

Online grading

Once students turn in those masterpieces, you still have to pile them up in your living room to grade while watching Food Network, right? Not really.

People are loving EssayTagger because it’s easy for students to send in their work (from Google Drive) and it’s easy for teachers to annotate and comment. Rubrics can be built as well. Finally—what may be the best part—if the kids keep making the same mistakes across the class, you can just reuse the same comment without having to type it again! Seconds saved adds up to minutes quite quickly. You can also do the work from your tablet, saving paper.

Get better at multiple choice

This is more of a general tip. Everyone’s LMS now has an online quiz tool of some sort, but many teachers are reluctant to use them because using multiple choice questions feel disingenuous, especially in the Common Core era. Commit yourself to getting really good at multiple choice question writing and you can save some major time.

Start with multi-step process questions, like those you will find on the next-gen assessments. Give the students a set of data and have them go through the process of analyzing that data and coming up with appropriate responses in a series of 5-7 questions. It’s not highly interactive questioning like the vision is for these new assessments, but it’s better than the typical multiple choice, “let’s see how lucky I am” quizzes.