English Teachers! How do you grade papers quickly?

Discussion in 'High School' started by MizDubya, Sep 25, 2008.

  1. MizDubya

    MizDubya Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2008
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 25, 2008

    Hi all,

    I'm a new English teacher, and I find that I am drowning in essays. I take too long to grade each one--I definitely make too many margin comments & in-line corrections, and then I write a too-long comment summary at the end. I'm frustrated because I am still frantically trying to catch up on lesson planning, and I fear my stacks of waiting essays will finally do me in!

    So...here's what I'm wondering: How do you speed up your grading? What do you comment on in the body of the essay, and do you include an end comment? How do you decide what is the most important to focus your comments on in an essay?

    Any suggestions/advice would be most appreciated! :help:
     
  2.  
  3. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2007
    Messages:
    3,765
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 25, 2008

    I am not an English teacher but as a History teacher I do assign my fair share of essays :) My suggestion would be to create a rubric that covers just about every kind of comment/correction/critique you can think of. Once I created my rubric for each of types of essays grading goes very fast - I simply circle/underline on the rubric what was good, bad, missing or incomplete. I still do write short comments but the rubric takes care of many of mechanics or requirements.
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,640
    Likes Received:
    1

    Sep 25, 2008

    I don't teach English either, but read this somewhere:

    Come up with a list of abbreviations for the most common mistakes. (For example, "PE" might stand for "Punctuation Error.") Type it up, hand it out, and use those abbreviations.
     
  5. Mrs. R.

    Mrs. R. Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2006
    Messages:
    1,630
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 25, 2008

    I am an English teacher. What I have learned over the years is not to grade every essay for every thing. I create rubrics based on what the main focus of the assignment was, for example ideas, thesis statement, persuasive arguments, etc. I don't mark every grammatical or punctuation error, just the most glaring ones. I do write comments at the ends of the papers because those are among the few things the kids look at.
     
  6. ELA 11 12

    ELA 11 12 Companion

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2008
    Messages:
    142
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 25, 2008

    Quick and painless--the students do all the work



    Perfect, Mrs. R.

    I takes me 3 minutes or less for a typed three page, double spaced paper--usually less. BUT...if a paper is very weak, I spend plenty of time with the student in a writing conference during mutual free time. Students are strongly encouraged to conference with me before school, during my preps, lunch, or after school.

    Actually all students have the opportunity to conference with me to improve their grade. If you were to see a paper I grade, you will see very few marks on the student paper as the rubrics I use "say it all". There is never a penalty for increasing the grade. If the student self-advocates, I give the grade the student earns on the second attempt.

    The 6+1 Traits of writing rubrics are awesome for assessing specific skills. Also, I am tough on conventions, so if there are more than four errors in grammar, spelling or punctuation, I stop marking the errors in the paper at error four and award the lowest score on the rubric. I no longer look for those errors, I may see them, but ignore the rest. This took some discipline, but now is second nature.

    Ignoring the same kinds of errors allows me more time to score the rest for ideas, organization, sentence fluency, voice, and word choice.

    If you can go to a training session in the 6 Traits, MizDubya, go. The training that I attended was geared for elementary and lower middle school, but boy did it make sense. That training translated well to the high school levels.

    If you can't go to a training and need to learn it on your own it will take a couple of years to become super efficient, but it's still much faster and will support "teaching on purpose" rather than "making sure you are covering the material" or "assigning enough practice"--there is a distinct difference.

    I think you will find the 6 Traits rubrics are actually common sense. Google Rubistar 4 Teachers and Northwest Regional Education Lab. Rubistar is awesome for making custom rubrics and the NWREL is quite comprehensive.

    I think I share much of this information in another post. Possibly to you? :thumb:
     
  7. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2008
    Messages:
    2,165
    Likes Received:
    15

    Sep 26, 2008

    Read Kelly Gallagher's Teaching Adolescent Writers. You will spend more time helping them revise the first draft, but you'll get better writing and your students will learn more.
     
  8. wunderwhy

    wunderwhy Comrade

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2006
    Messages:
    323
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 28, 2008

    Ironically, I'm on here procrastinating from grading essays. :)

    I agree with the suggestions you've gotten:

    --create detailed rubrics
    --focus each assignment and devote the bulk of your grading to those areas
    --conference with students

    Schedule a few days to conference with students during which they work on something (group project maybe, or stations) independently. I prefer to have it be something where they are talking quietly so the kid in conference with me doesn't feel like s/he's on display.

    As long as you understand the notes (an asterisk next to something on the rubric, or "c.s." for comma splice) and will explain the most frequent errors with maybe notes for the whole class, then you can save those other little explanations for the conference. I think one minute spent talking one-on-one is almost always more valuable than one minute spent writing, "C.S. means comma splice. You've joined two independent clauses with just a comma. Please review how to properly join two independent clauses."

    We had a teacher who would turn back all her 11th grade honors essays the next class. Did they have a lot of comments or feedback? No. A detailed rubric? No. Have you ever heard kids claim that their teacher just throws the paper down the stairs and gives the ones that land at the bottom an A? I think those rumors begin with this kind of teacher. :rolleyes:

    It is SOOO important that we help our kids write well before we send them off to college, and we're really the last line of defense. To a certain degree we must be resigned to spending a lot of time grading essays. I'm trying to cut down how long it takes me to grade vocabulary quizzes and multiple choice assessments because essay grading is something that you can pare down only so much.
     
  9. mshutchinson

    mshutchinson Comrade

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2004
    Messages:
    268
    Likes Received:
    0

    Oct 2, 2008

    I'm dealign with the same thing. I have a stack of essays that are STILL ungraded after a week. I have only made it through half of them. In addition, there's the normal classwork to contend with.

    I tried somethign new.
    1- I found an online timer that counts down. I set it at 2 minutes, and timed myself. I moved faster under the gun and was able to get most of them done in that amount of time.
    2- I used a rubric- it's the state rubric for Regents Essays that I've condensed into one column with 5 sections.
    3- I used abbreviations (FE - factual error, WHAT?!? - don't ever do this again, sp- spelling, huh? - unclear, TS - topic sentence, inf - informal, whoo!- impressive ideas, wow - nice sentence...)


    This year, I tried another new thing. I made "Review and Respond" the Do Now. I have the kids actually write responses to every comment I made. I also ask them to tell me the abbreviations that they don't understand. I write these on the board. I then explain what each problem is, and I ask students for ideas about how to correct it.

    This took about 20(+) minutes.

    I write to the kids - "Appositive. Go see Eric." They stare dumbly, and ask what I mean. Then they go see Eric. Once he shows them how to corectly use the appositive, they will likely remember next time.

    I feel like this saves SOME time, and it's very thorough - almost as thorough as a conference-, but I still haven't become the master of my own time.
     
  10. dtrim

    dtrim Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2008
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    0

    Oct 3, 2008

    I posted this in another thread a few months back (the thread is here: http://forums.atozteacherstuff.com/showthread.php?t=56106

    When I taught English, I found grading papers overwhelming, too. Here's what I did: following each essay assignment, I'd be sure to assign reading for a few days. I'd give the class 30 minutes to read during our 90-minute block. While students read, I'd call a student to my desk, read his paper silently with him next to me while giving him feedback in a quiet voice. I'd say, "I'm confused here," or "I really like this support." As I went, I'd circle the grammar/spelling/usage problem that was most prevalent in the essay. At the end, I'd give him my overall impression and tell him the overall grammar/spelling/usage problem in the essay. Then I'd fill out the six traits rubric and tell him to correct the subject/verb agreement problems I'd circled or the run-on sentences to raise the conventions grade.

    Next!

    The whole meeting took about 3-5 minutes, the essays weren't splashed with red ink, the kid had good feedback and a real audience, and I finished that class's stack in class over a few days' time.

    I developed this little trick when I took a summer journalism fellowship and I found out I really, really hated red, but I really, really liked writer's conferences and feedback.

    Best wishes for success,

    Diane
     
  11. Ms.H

    Ms.H Companion

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    173
    Likes Received:
    0

    Oct 6, 2008

    I am definitely struggling with the same thing in my third year. I can't help but feeling that the more I write, the more I am helping. I am beginning to see that this is not necessarily always the case. After spending hours and hours grading essays and stories this weekend, I returned them, only to have students discouraged and overwhelmed by the amounts of "helpful" suggestions I gave them. I decided to try somethign new next time: limit myself to three "good points" and the three most important "areas for improvement." That way, I am limited to a few comments, and they only have to deal with three "criticisms," as they see it. They may be more likely to actually remember them as well (is there a way to avoid a split infinitive there?). Lots of other great suggestions too!
     
  12. Charlie

    Charlie New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0

    Nov 9, 2008

    Auto D Policy

    In my school we have an auto-D policy. I start grading and when I get to 7 mistakes, I stop. Student gets an automatic "D". The essay is handed back to student to fix. I then compare it to the original and grade it, giving an average between the new grade and the D. I find that I really only have to do it for the first essay, and after that they know what's expected!
     
  13. dsrt16

    dsrt16 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 4, 2010

    What? Are you superman? I have a very detailed rubric allowing me to circle areas of weakness, I mark comma common errors with codes, and I write 2-3 positive points.

    I use the tips I have read in this forum: rubric and shorthand comments, and it takes me roughly 10 minutes per paper. This is only 6 papers in an hour.

    Lucky for me, I am teaching at a K-8 school (actually I hate that model) and I only have a 100 students instead of the 242 I had when I taught at a junior high.

    3 minutes or less? How?? How?? I want to learn!!!!
     
  14. sbb35

    sbb35 Rookie

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2010
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 8, 2010

    What about peer reviews before final submission? I like the expert suggestion above. Students could be experts on certain grammar rules, changing their areas of expertise over the year.
     
  15. Mr. A

    Mr. A Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2009
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 9, 2010

    It's hard enough to find teachers who are truly expert in grammar. I wouldn't let any kid grade for anything more than the most rudimentary usage issues (and even then it would have to be a top AP kid).
     
  16. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    27,476
    Likes Received:
    203

    Feb 9, 2010

    It seems likely that sbb35 didn't intend that a student grade the essays, but rather that the student be charged with finding and noting a particular issue in the course of peer review.

    There's something to be said for kid X being, say, the March expert in semicolons: it means that, at least for the month of March, kid X has to learn semicolons to begin with.
     
  17. Mr. A

    Mr. A Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2009
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 9, 2010

    That's what I meant.

    Not to be a killjoy---and I like the "March expert" idea---but that's what we were hired to do.

    Kids can and should ask questions (only the right kind) but like I said I'd be leery of letting any except the absolute sharpest AP kids "noting" any complex---or, for that matter, simple---problems in syntax or punctuation (and experience has taught me that even those kids mess up when doing this).
     
  18. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2004
    Messages:
    2,977
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 9, 2010

    What's the harm in peer editing?
     
  19. Mr. A

    Mr. A Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2009
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 9, 2010

    It leads to misteaching.

    Peer responding---kids leading each other to new ideas---is fine.
     
  20. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2004
    Messages:
    2,977
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 9, 2010

    My Freshman Honors students, write two outside papers per term. For these papers, I have them peer edit and revise one day, the following day they are expected to turn in a revised first draft to me. I firmly believe that my students have a sophisticated enough grasp of Grammar and Usage to edit at least the minor mistakes. Anything more complicated and they know they can ask me. If I am not sure I ask the English Department Chair because even though I try to write using correct grammar, I am a History guy. Grammar and Conventions, however, are never more than 10% total of my total essay rubrics. I do realize the importance of using correct grammar, however my standards do not emphasize it.
     
  21. bookwormada

    bookwormada Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 16, 2010

    I find that students tend to ignore many comments made on papers. They almost always check the grade first - if they got a good grade, they feel that they don't need to improve and therefore don't need to read the comments. If they got a bad grade, they often feel dejected and would rather put the paper away than read comments about the mistakes they made.
    Because many comments get ignored, I definitely think that the most important comment is the summary at the end of the paper. Place it physically close to the letter grade, address the big issues in the paper, and try to explain why the student got the grade he/she got.
     

Share This Page

test