Friday, June 27, 2014

Grade Smarter

Grading.  Especially as an English teacher, that word sends CHILLS down my spine.  What I love about teaching is interacting with the students, presenting information, and getting creative.  I do not like assigning grades and pouring over a hundred versions of essentially the same essay.  I find it tedious.

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?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Teaching Online Check In

One thing I've come to realize during my stint teaching online is that I have to be very very explicit.  I think I forgot that I am not verbally presenting the assignments to the class which is where I often clarify what I want and answer lots of questions.  Most of my students seem to be understanding what I am asking for, but there have been a few points of confusion.  Now I'm brainstorming how to make this better...

1.  Write a lot more directions.  But I'm worried students just skim or focus on the wrong parts.
2.  Record myself giving the directions.  But I'm worried students won't bother watching.  It's also time consuming.
3... I dunno I'm stuck.

How do you suggest clarifying directions online?

Thanks for stopping in!

Monday, June 9, 2014


For most of us summer is officially here!  And we, as teachers know, really deserve the break.  Anyone else wish people understood that we do 12 months of work in 9-10? I don't know about you but when I get to the last day of school I truly need the break or I'd snap!  

That said, after a few weeks I sometimes get a little bored.  I've found that I don't have that many teacher friends who live near me to hang out with.  There's also the problem that a lot of the things that I think of to do cost MONEY.  I spend way more in the summer than during the school year.  It's terrible.

This summer however, I am teaching my one online class and will be working on beefing up my teachers pay teachers store.  I am also traveling, attending professional development, and planning for my fall courses.   

What do you do in the summer to keep yourself from going crazy?  What are your plans for this summer in particular?  Anything you're dying to see in my teachers pay teachers store?

And don't forget, if you too want to start your own business sign up for your own store!  The summer is the perfect time to build your store so it's ready for the back to school rush come August!