When it comes to grading, I don’t mind the small assignments and daily check-off work. It’s the large papers and projects, which consume so much time and cause me stress. I want to get those papers back to the students and off my desk! Thus, I’ve changed my procedures when grading large assignments to reduce my stress load.
I create a sign-up sheet with six consecutive school days listed along with space for up to six people per day. I draw names out of a hat, and the students can sign up for the day they wish to turn in their papers. Now, I only have 5-6 papers a day to grade, students actually choose the due dates (no excuses any more), and I don’t have stacks of papers piling up on my desk. Additionally, I don’t really think it’s right for me to collect work I can’t return in a timely fashion, and this helps.
With large projects containing multiple parts, I have a similar method. Let’s pretend the students have five choices but only need to pick three of the project options. I would then have all of the students who completed part 1 turn in their portions on Monday, part 2 on Tuesday, and so on. This way I get fewer pieces to assess each day, and I am constantly returning work. I see progress, and the students see progress and receive immediate feedback.
One of my colleagues, with tongue firmly in cheek, told me just to assign less work for the kids. He said that helps him, but of course we know that shortchanging the kids is really not an option.
What do you do to reduce your paper load?