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Top 9 Tips to Cut Writing Assignment Grading Time

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Grading writing assignments can be very time consuming. Some teachers even avoid writing assignments and essays altogether. Thus, it is critical to use procedures which give students writing practice while saving time and not overburdening the teacher with grading. Try some of the following grading suggestions, keeping in mind that students' writing skills improve with practice and with the use of rubrics to grade each other's writing.

1. Use Peer Evaluation

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Distribute rubrics to students asking each to read and score three of his or her peers' essays in a specific amount of time. After grading an essay, they should staple the rubric to the back of it so as not to influence the next evaluator. If necessary, check off students who have completed the required number of evaluations; however, I have found that students do this willingly. Collect the essays, check off that they were completed on time, and return them to be revised.

2. Grade Holistically

Use a single letter or number based on a rubric such as the one used with The Florida Writes Program. To do this, put your pen down and simply read and sort assignments into piles according to score. When finished with a class, check each pile to see if they are consistent in quality, then write the score at the top. This allows you to grade a large number of papers quickly. It is best used with final drafts after students have used a rubric to grade one another's writing and made improvements.

3. Use Portfolios

Have students create a portfolio of checked-off writing assignments from which they select the best to be graded. An alternative approach is to have the student select one of three consecutive essay assignments to be graded.

4. Grade Only a Few from a Class Set - Roll the Die!

Use a roll of a die to match numbers selected by students in order to select from eight to ten essays that you will be grading in-depth, checking off the others.

5. Grade Only a Few from a Class Set - Keep them Guessing!

Tell students you will make an in-depth evaluation of a few essays from each class set and check off the others. Students will not know when theirs will be graded in-depth.

6. Grade Only Part of the Assignment

Grade only one paragraph of each essay in depth. Don't tell students ahead of time which paragraph it will be though.

7. Grade Only One or Two Elements

Have students write at the top of their papers, "Evaluation for (element) " followed by a line for your grade for that element. It is helpful to also write "My estimate _____" and fill in their estimate their grade for that element.

8. Have Students Write in Journals Which Are Not Graded

Require only that they write either for a specified amount of time, that they fill a specified amount of space, or that they write a specified number of words.

9. Use Two Highlighters

Grade writing assignments using only two colored highlighters with one color for strengths, and the other for errors. If a paper has many errors, mark only a couple you think the student should work on first so that you don't cause the student to give up.
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