Is it research paper time again? The time of the year when all we math teachers congratulate ourselves for our subject choice as we witness the drowning of our ELA colleagues in mounds of papers to grade. There are definite perks to teaching mathematics, but grading can be difficult to keep up with in any subject. Here’s what every experienced teacher knows: A little proactive thinking and work can make grading student practice a lot easier. We each have our tricks. (I would love to hear yours.) Here are two from my arsenal:
VersaTiles — These handy dandy answer cases married with a specially designed practice sheet make grading effortless. Just flip and peek to see if the correct design is made. While ETA Hand2Mind sells workbooks, design your own Versatile worksheet for versatility. 🙂 The down side: VersaTile cases are somewhat costly, although there is a cheaper mini version. Go treasure hunting! At my second school, I found a full set of these amazing cases collecting dust in the Math storage closet.
Encode with a message — In regard to student practice in any subject, do you ever provide students with a bank of answers? Multiple choice questions, a set of dominoes, matching questions — all of these lend themselves to easy grading if you add a little coding to the answers. For example, this multiple choice question’s labeling has been changed from A B C D to E I N O. The entire worksheet’s answers in order spell “Anterior.” Letters in the corner of the cards of a complex data displays matching activity frees me to have rich content conversations with the students because they clue me into whether or not students are making the right connections. (I learned that the hard way on that activity!) Warning: Some students excel at unscrambling letters. “Happy Halloween” is out of the question; that is way too obvious. How about “nefarious” or “labyrinth” (or “nefarious labyrinth”). Why does it even have to be a real word as long as it is easy to remember and I can see at a glance the correctness of the answers? Remember the message is not actually for the students, but the teacher — the purpose quick grading.
Dawn is a secondary Algebra teacher in Maryland with a B.S. in Secondary Mathematics Education and a Masters in Information Science and Learning Technologies.