Sunday, February 21, 2010

How to Grade

As I am sitting at my table at home grading...okay, right now just staring at...a stack of papers I am left wondering and reflecting:

How much grading is too much?

I teach four classes of chemistry, 3 days a week. Two of these classes are Advanced Placement. I have student assistants at school but they are not allowed to grade papers. There are about 30 students in each class. That means there are approximately 120 lab papers each week, homework assignments to check, quizzes, tests and other types of documents.

I know that grading is part of the job (and this is what I really like to do - teach) and there is some that needs to be done but when is enough, enough?

This question seems to come up a lot among teachers but I am not sure we have an answer. What are other people's thoughts on grading?

I have come up with some ideas:
  1. Assign less - but what is cut out?
  2. Do not grade every lab assignment
  3. Grade only parts of each document and not the entire thing
  4. Grade only formal assessments - not supported usually in schools
I should also say that I am really thinking about this since class size will go up in the coming school years. Budget reductions and staffing changes will require us to have larger classes/teach more sections. I am fine working hard but I am tired of the people outside of education thinking that teaching is easy. It is not. If they really want to know, they should try it. Until then, they should keep the criticism to what they really know about (if there is anything on that list).

So if there is anyone reading this and you have ideas about changing grading, I would really want to know.

By the way, I just read this blog post which made me think about the industrial model of education. Overtime without compensation???


Cara S. said...

I struggle with this as well...I love what we've done for biology labs...doing the lab and then revisiting it at home via Moodle. But, now instead of one lab, we're grading three. Good for kids, but not good for me! What do we keep and what can we let go? I guess we really need to think about the best way to get kids to do homework and assignments for learning's sake, not just for points in the gradebook. I think it's possible, but definitely an environment that needs to be created within the classroom.

Hatak said...

Cara, what are some of the ways to get students to value work?

We are going away from lab notebooks...I think. I would like to get to grading of less, especially labs, but how do we get them to complete the lab if we are not going to grade it?