I have attended several professional development sessions on assessment and I have taken classes in curriculum design. The common theme deals with figuring out what you're trying to assess and to make sure your assessment focuses on that.
I think, as English teachers, we often try to assess EVERYTHING all at the same time and that is what causes us to take so long and to get so frustrated. Because of this I am currently experimenting with a few different grading techniques.
The first, is color coded grading. I had all of my students in my college class turn in their persuasive papers in via email. They had to color code their papers. I was specifically looking for persuasive techniques: Kairos, Ethos, Logos, and Pathos. I required them to highlight each of those items. I also wanted to make sure they had a strong thesis statement so I had them highlight that in another color.
This allows for a couple of things to happen.
1. Students, before turning in an assignment are forced to go through it one more time and see if they've included all the necessary elements. If they haven't they can quickly fix it! Ideally this means we are getting stronger papers overall.
2. Teachers can quickly find all the elements that specifically need to be graded. And, more importantly can see if the students understand what these elements mean. Was the sentence they identified as a thesis statement truly a thesis statement?
Here's my process with this technique.
I read the whole paper and focus on the grammar for the first two paragraphs. Then, I go to fill in my rubric (I always use a specific rubric with point values for this technique) and revisit each section. I write my comments and move on.
Because the submissions were made via files online I was able to type comments right in which, for me, is much faster.
I have a few other Grade Smarter ideas that I will be posting about soon.
What about you? What are your grading tricks?