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Managing the Marking Load

 Tips for helping middle school teachers manage their marking load and organize their marking bin from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.

Managing The Middle School Marking Load

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. 

How much?
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. 

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8 thoughts on “Managing the Marking Load”

  1. You made some great suggestions about marking papers. When I give a big project or long essay I grade 10-15 at school (during planning) and 10 at home per day. The kids know that large projects take a few days anyway, so I have not received any complaints about the turn-around time. After a few occasions of bringing a huge pile home to grade (and not getting them done because I was busy with my son) I realized that I needed to set more reasonable grading goals. If I bring more than 10 essays home, they just don't get finished in one night! (I call this the magic 10) Spreading the grading out also helps keep me in a positive mood so that I can give thoughtful feedback to my students!

  2. Thank you for the advice! As a first year teacher marking has been one of my biggest obstacles – Who knew English takes sooo much time to mark? Not me! I've really been working at setting aside time when I plan my week. I only teach part time and then I sub the rest of the week so I try to always make sure I have marking with me in case I luck out with a prep block or student teacher while subbing. I just found your blog and I love it so far – thank you!

  3. Glad to hear that you are hanging in there K! Sorry to hear you hubby is not well though:( I have found that I mark a certain number of papers per day. I have 28 students so I make myself mark a minimum of 4 major assignments…then I will be sure to be done within a week. Other things I mark quickly at school, some things I have the kids check and then I have them hand it in (like Daily Math, I know you read the post) and others I use online assessments which submit the marks to me directly, and give the students immediate feedback. It's still a balancing act, and sometimes I get overwhelmed, but I find if I don't try to do it all at once, everyone benefits, my students, my family and my sanity!

  4. I had a huge pile of marking this weekend! I had 28 X 4 chapters of novel study extended responses. I did half before I started my day yesterday, a few more later in the day, and the rest this morning. I feel as though I did not spend too much time on the marking, even with it being Mother's Day! I was rereading your post and noticed your suggestion to organize your marking bin…you should see the awesome file and fold and tote from 31Gifts on my blog right now. It would do the organizing for you! I'm holding a giveaway too…I hope you have entered!

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