The marking load can become impossible for the middle school teacher if it is not managed properly. Here are my best tips for helping teachers manage their marking bin.
1. Set manageable marking goals for yourself on how much to mark and when to mark.
When the students hand in a major project my goal is to mark five items at school and five items at home.
Find a specific time that works for your schedule. Some of my friends swear by arriving at school early and marking in the am, others like to stay for a bit after school and mark then. Others use these times to prep for their lessons (photocopy, cut/paste) and then mark for their whole planning time. Whatever you choose be consistent!
It works - I promise. For years I would look around at all of these super teachers and wonder "how do they do it" then I asked them. They told me they plan out their days including when they were going to mark student work. GENIUS! If you write it down you are more likely to stick to it.
2. Mark quick assessments and quizzes first.
I have my students do quick assessments regularly. I mark these pieces first to ensure that concept attainment has been achieved. Also, these assessments/quizzes allow the students to monitor their own achievement and ask for help or enrichment if needed.
3. Not all work needs a letter grade.
If the assessment I am having the students do is for practice before a final assessment, I often mark with a check system and descriptive feedback.
Check minus = good effort, but please come see the teacher for more help, Check = right on track, keep practicing.
I explain this system to students the first time I hand something back. They quickly get use to reading my comments and looking for a check instead of immediately looking at a letter or percentage grade. I keep track of these checks in my mark book to see which students need extra help or are ready to move on to a new concept.
4. Keep check lists in your marking book.
Every time I hand back a major assignment I make a check list (based on my descriptive feedback for that assignment) on what the students next steps should be. e.g. proof read for spelling, punctuation, run on sentences, make deeper connections to the text.
I create my check lists in a word processing program and shrink down the check lists so I can fit 8-10 check lists on a page. I write a different student name on each check list and then check off what my descriptive feedback was on their assignment. When I write report cards I now have all my anecdotal evidence organized and ready to be written as strengths and next steps.
5. Organize your marking bin.
I keep the newest items at the bottom and the oldest items at the top. It is a visual reminder of what needs to be marked first, second etc. I also have a different folder for each rotary class I teach to ensure their marking remains separate from the other classes.
I hope these tips were helpful.
Please feel free to share your marking tips in the comments section below.