Last week, I shared some thoughts on giving more effective feedback to students. Today, I’m discussing teachers’ #1 complaint about grading: TIME.
In a day already filled with competing priorities, it’s difficult to find time to grade student work. I know first-hand the feelings of defeat and discouragement after spending hours writing detailed notes on students’ papers only to have them dropped in the recycling bin by the end of class.
While I don’t have a magic solution, I do have five ways you can give students better feedback in less time!
#1: Targeted feedback
Essentially, only grade one skill or standard at a time. Provide students with instructions like one of the statements below, and ONLY grade and provide feedback for that one question or concept. Not only does this save you time when grading, but it also helps students identify their own learning needs and request feedback that will be the most helpful for them.
- “In this paragraph, I’m ONLY looking for correct comma usage. Use commas in three different ways and circle them.”
- “Highlight the question you are most struggling with.”
- “Star the answer you are most proud of.”
- “Circle the paragraph you would like me to read and provide feedback on.”
#2: Self-assessment with a three-column rubric
A three-column rubric can save you time because it’s faster and easier to create as well as grade. (Check out an example here.) It’s also simpler for students to understand (and actually read) the expectations.
Save more time by first having students self-assess with the rubric. They can write comments in the left or right columns according to whether they see their work needing improvement or meeting expectations. Students then turn in this rubric with their assignments. As you grade, you only need to add feedback where it differs from what the student has written, rather than repeating ideas the student has already identified.
#3: Audio or video feedback
Audio or video feedback has been shown to be three times more likely to be used on future work than text-based feedback! Consider tools like Mote to record audio within a Google Doc comment or use Screencastify to record your screen while you assess student work. This recorded feedback can save you time since you don’t need to write out comments, plus it’s associated with increased retention of content, feelings of increased involvement and community, and the perception that the teacher cares about the student.
#4: Digital assessment tools
Many digital assessment tools provide instant feedback for the teacher and students–no extra grading time needed! One of my favorites is Quizizz which has many pre-built assessments you can use or edit, so you don’t have to start from scratch. View other recommended digital assessment tools here and here.
#5: Use peers
Peer feedback is readily available, timely, and supports positive class relationships. Consider using the three-column rubric mentioned above or use a “likes” and “wonders” format for feedback. Beginning a suggestion with “I wonder…” softens criticism and invites curiosity.
Try this in a gallery walk, having students write their likes and wonders on sticky notes as they move around the room.
Or, use a “speed dating” format in which students talk one-on-one for short periods of time, allowing them to hear from (and provide feedback to) multiple students. Arrange students in two lines (or circles) facing each other and have one line rotate every 1-2 minutes, sharing their work and feedback with a new partner.
What tips do you have for better and faster feedback? Share them below!