Is this what you look like when you grade student work past your bedtime? Taking home grading has been a major source of stress for me, and my biggest roadblock when trying to create thematic units and effective lessons.
This (long, long) month, I thought I'd blog about some of the practices that help me be a more sane teacher. I'll be sharing my tips to foster March sanity, and avoid March madness. Because usually, March is a month that drives me absolutely mad. So let's dive into my first pro-sanity tip: grading without a pen in hand.
As Laura Terrill asked at a workshop back in 2014, "How would you rather spend your time: planning or grading?" No contest there: planning wins every, single time. While I've made several changes to streamline my feedback process, one of the most transformative has been to put down the red (well, purple) pen. I was inspired not only by Laura Terrill but also this post and video on Musicuentos (which doesn't say NOT to give corrective feedback, but rather that the research on its effectiveness is inconclusive: all things being equal, why bother?). When I'm assessing my students' presentational writing, I now hardly make any corrective marks for accuracy on their papers. Instead, I might point out a particularly strong complex sentence or cultural example, and leave the rest for the rubric.
Here are three reasons that I find skipping corrective feedback to be a useful practice:
1. My students can't (or won't) process all those marks, even if I do make them. It's just way, way more than they can take in.
2. As an assessor, my brain can't stay focused on key rubric domains such as text type, vocabulary, and culture if I'm marking up every mis-conjugated verb, every missing article, and every wrong preposition. In the past, when I did make corrective marks, I had to read each essay several times in order to comment on each domain. Now, I can read through once (okay, maybe twice) and get a good sense of where the writing falls in terms of our rubric domains.
3. Corrective marks serve little purpose, unless I'm going to have my students rewrite the entire assessment with corrections for accuracy. They are a good example of feedBACK rather than feedFORWARD. I'd rather have my students focus on proficiency in terms of text type, vocabulary, and culture. I am working to trust the SLA process and believe that with more input, they will eventually become more accurate, comprehensible French writers!
Stay tuned for more tips to combat March madness.