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How to Tackle Grading When It Seems Overwhelming

There are few things that are certain in life and the pile of papers on your desk waiting to be graded is probably one of them!  Once that pile begins to build, it almost seems like there is no stopping it and it can become truly overwhelming.  Journals, papers, and notebooks start to take over which was once the top of your desk and you start to feel like you cannot catch up.

I used to feel like I needed to correct everything that students completed. I didn't know any other way…how could I check their progress if I didn't check all of their papers? But I just couldn't keep up!  I knew something needed to change.  I made a few small changes which helped lighten my paper grading load.

Homework Menu

Homework seems like a never ending battle…at home and at school.  There are so many reasons to consider a change in mindset about homework: keeping track of missing assignments, adding homework to the pile to grade, and students struggling with concepts taught in school while working at home.  To help lighten the load of paperwork with homework, try a homework menu.

A homework menu gives students a choice and also allows flexibility with homework assignments.  Students can take the menu home on Monday and bring back on Friday with four things completed in a homework notebook. Students have the choice for their homework and it is less daily papers to grade. And guess what? There are less missing homework assignments because students have a choice in their assignments and all week to complete them.  And then menu does not only need to include content area assignments, but can include character activities such as: write a thank you note to someone, help set the table for dinner, read to a family member.

You can check out the editable homework menu that I use HERE.


Rather than collecting students' reading, writing, or math notebooks; quick conferences with students can give good insight into students' comprehension and also save your growing stack of papers.

A quick check for understanding with students to see what they are working on and quick notes in their notebooks can take just a few minutes. You may not be able to meet with each student everyday, but you are still able to monitor their progress and see as a whole how your students are doing with the content.

Student Checks

Say it with me now, “It is OKAY for students to check their own work.”

Meeting as a whole group to review independent work is a great way to gauge student understanding while also lessening your stack of papers to grade. Students CAN correct their own papers and you can do a quick check over rather than correcting every single one.  A quick glance at student work is a big time saver!

How can you trust students will be honest with their corrections?  You can still collect their papers, so they know you'll have eyes on it.

Student Conferences

Just like a quick conference with the teacher can be helpful, a quick peer conference can also be a great way to correct student work.  It is easy to pop in with small groups or partners to do a quick check with what they are working on and what you may need to revisit.

Have students meet in small groups to go over their work and pop in with each group.  Your quick check in will give you a good idea of any problems as well as what went well…without collecting and grading a whole stack of papers.

Exit Tickets

Exit tickets are a great, and quick, way to check student understanding.  An exit ticket can give so much insight into student comprehension of a topic and it is so much easier than collecting all of the papers or notebooks.

Click here for free editable exit tickets

Are you feeling overwhelmed with grading? I hope you can try a few new ways to monitor your students' progress!






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