I was browsing one of the many teacher Facebook groups I am in and I came across this gem of a post by Beth from Adventures of a School Marm. I LOVED so many of her tips that I asked her if I could share her Facebook post as a guest post on my blog! And she said yes! Woo hoo!
I have edited her post a little so that it makes sense (headings), but for the most part this is all her! Isn't she awesome! Make sure to check out her blog!
Stop with Bell Work/ Morning Work!
For starters, I stopped doing "bell work" like Daily Math or Daily Language. Instead, the kids would bring their homework (done or not!) up to the carpet to go over together. I checked there who did it or didn't. If they did it, they earned a Class Dojo point. I also had a HW incentive club each quarter. (If they did "x" amount of assignments in the quarter, they got to each lunch with me in the classroom and get a special treat. They worked hard for this! LOL!) Then, we would go over all the answers. If they didn't do it, they were expected to do it with us right then. I never collected homework, they got immediate feedback, and they took their paper right back home with them. I made sure parents understood that homework was for practice and would not be included in our grades. Not putting HW in the grade book was actually a school policy. Yes, there were some kids that never did their homework.
There were some kids that ALWAYS did their homework. But I just chose not to fight that battle. We celebrated the responsibility and hat work of those that did their HW. We grew from our mistakes because the feedback was immediate. The immediate feedback was more important to me than penalizing anyone that chose not to do it. But that's just me and I realize not everyone will agree with that.
The Overwhelming Pile of Centers!
Next time saver was that most centers work was not graded. I structured my ELA block so that there was 10 min of self-selected silent reading for fun at the end. The kids could read whatever they wanted, never be forced to write any response about it, and could just read because reading is so much fun! I used that time to go around the room and look over their centers work, which they collected on their desks. They got checks, stars, or feedback if there needed to be improvement. I kept anecdotal notes on a clipboard with a roster. Again, most centers work was never collected or graded with the exception of the work collected in their reading binders.
Assessments? Make it Easy with IMMEDIATE Feedback
My last time saver was that we graded every test together... usually the same day we took it! Kids knew immediately how they did on their tests, which they loved. They came to the carpet with their test, a marker or colored pencil, and grabbed a clipboard. Again, we looked at it as a time to celebrate what we knew and get feedback on areas to improve. Kids would circle the number of it was wrong.
The biggest issue I had was they wanted to draw all over their test and make lots of smiley faces for right answers, so I just trained them not to do that. I was able to correct common misconceptions right then and there. I did spend time teaching about grading with integrity and not lying. The kids would rat each other out in the rare event that one tried to cheat. That usually happened early on and then the problem would be fixed once they realized that it was better to be honest. I did collect those tests and still double checked them for accuracy. It still saved me a ton of time! I used to spend about 6 hours every grading all the test we were required to give. This cut my time down to about hour to go over all of them, double check, and record.
A Closing Thought
Again, I realize many of these ways are unconventional. I did see a big improvement in my kids' motivation to do their homework because of the immediate feedback. They liked being celebrated for being responsible. I also saw test anxiety decrease because they knew right away how they did. It made my instructional grouping more effective because I knew their progress so much more quickly.
Aren't these fantastic tips? I was blown away at the value of immediate feedback while taking a burden off the teacher! Thank you for sharing, Beth!