Some of you on a six-week grading period may have already sent home your first report cards. Others, on a nine-week schedule, may just be getting ready to send report cards out. Either way, it is not uncommon for new teachers to find themselves sorely lacking in graded assessments. How does this happen? Collectively, you grade a lot of papers across subject areas. As a high school teacher, each of my biology assignments yields approximately 143 papers for five classes. It is overwhelming! But when you count the number of assignments per subject/class…it can be surprising how few different assignments you actually have.
If you teach elementary, you are just so plain busy meeting the needs of young students that you work together in class, send the page home for the parents to see, then POOF! It’s the end of the grading period and you only have three grades in the grade book.
This is an EMERGENCY! But here’s what you can do about it:
Upper Grades and High School:
- Give a 5 point bell ringer twice this next week. (10 points total)
- Have students write a paragraph on a topic that you have been studying that will reflect their level of understanding. Assess it on understanding of the concept only. 10 points)
- Give an exit slip on class material (5 points)
- Give one homework assignment (10 points)
- Announce a quiz and administer it (15-20 points)
- Assign a task that students can work on in pairs. Collect and assess the work (10 points)
- Ask students to make a PowerPoint presentation, speech, or some other simple demonstration that shows what they know. (Don’t do this unless you realistically have time in class for the presentations)
- Give a performance assessment that you can grade on the spot. Can the student focus a microscope slide, bisect an angle, read music, or do anything else that takes five minutes or fewer for you to assess?
- Use one assignment/activity to produce multiple grades: for example, have students write a few sentences with their spelling words; correct the spelling and check handwriting (if you assign handwriting grades)
- Have the student read the sentences to you.
- Have students read a paragraph from their reading book and answer comprehension questions orally
- Send students to the board for math practice; you can tell a lot about math ability by watching board work
- Following a science activity, students can demonstrate what they have learned by writing a few sentences. They can use math WITH science and you can glean two grades from one activity.
- You can use a social studies activity to assess reading, writing, spelling, and math (with a little creativity)
The key here is to plan multiple assessments that will generate grades quickly and fairly. THEN, for the NEXT GRADING PERIOD, avoid this can of worms by promising yourself to get two assessments per week for each subject. Mark the items you will assess in your lesson plan book with a yellow highlighter. If you do this, you will not come to the end of a grading period and panic when you find that you have collected very few grades.
While having a ton of grades is not necessary, upper grade/high school students will feel like your grading system isn’t fair if you don’t have at least two grades per week. Students in lower elementary will probably be oblivious to the number of grades, but the parents won’t be. Use your good judgment, take care of the lack of grades THIS TIME, then vow not to get caught in the same position next grading period. You will be OK! Just get back on track and stay there!