Tame the Monster!

A new year brings a new opportunity to set procedures that will serve your students while saving your sanity. Here are three easy-to-implement ideas that will save you a TON of time as you grade that impending avalanche of essays:

Click here to learn more about my code sheets and the 5-Minute Essay Grading System.

Teach on, everyone!

16 thoughts on “Tame the Monster!

  1. jordan_jill says:

    I really dislike going to videos. It is so much easier to read, which I am the first to admit, involves skimming to determine if the post is useful to me. Let me say that most posts are, but I’m sure you understand the time crunch and sometimes I already do the things you post about. Yours is one of the few posts I follow, but I really dislike the videos for all posts.

  2. Fair enough. I hear you, Jordan. Don’t worry, I still will be posting text-based blog entries. Guess I’m a bit like a kid with a new toy right now, trying to figure out how this new medium works/might fit into my little bloggy world. I know I did two videos in a row here, but, I promise, I’ll never abandon my first love – writing. Besides, I think my “voice” is much better on the page than on a video, anyway. Thanks for the candid feedback. It is helpful.

  3. Marti Koller says:

    Hi, Laura – I loved this video but am unable to find the code sheet you mentioned. What am I missing?

    Thanks so much for all you share. You are an inspiration!


  4. Hi Marti,
    Sorry for any confusion. The code sheets are part of my 5-Minute Essay Grading System, which you can find here: http://bit.ly/1HRXa24 or at the link right below the video. Please note that this item is a paid product in my TpT shop, but feel free to build your own coding sheets which won’t cost you anything but a little bit of time. Sorry this one isn’t a freebie, though I do have lots of ideas and items here on other blog entries that you can grab at no cost. A girl’s gotta pay a few bills sometimes. You know how it is… Thanks!

  5. Sarah Eaton says:

    A year or so ago I started using a highlighter to grade papers because my instinct as a grammar nazi was to mark/correct every little thing – which wastes my time and just overwhelms my kiddos.

    With the highlighter, I simply highlight issues/errors. Then I highlight my rubric to reflect why they earned/lost points. Finally I write a note on an area they excelled in and/or should focus on. Using this process has saved me SO MUCH TIME!

    Thanks for your additional tips! I LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog and TPT stuff. You have really revolutionized my ELA world and rejuvenated a teacher who was getting burned out and burdened by state bureaucracy. I’m so excited to try some of your other ideas when school starts in Sept and to also share your wisdom with my new student teacher and mentee 🙂

  6. Thanks so much, Sarah! This means a lot to me. I love your highlighter tip – ha, that’s punny! Before I used codes, I had stickers that I placed in the margins of students’ papers, but I found I was wasting so much time shuffling through my sticker pages that I ended up shifting to the codes. Whatever works, right? Hope you and your new student teacher (can we all say, “Ahh…”) have a great fall semester. Let’s go get ’em!

  7. I use your grading system for my high school ELA classes. Love it! Saves me so much time, and having to hand write corrections really gets their attention. My entire department had me buy it for them last year because I was having such an enjoyable time with the grading. It really is a good system. Thanks!

  8. I love the new videos with your blog, Laura! Your descriptions are most helpful! Thank you! Because of your amazing products and informative blogs, I am eager to start the school year with an arsenal full of your materials and units of study!

    I bought this grading system at the end of this past school year, so I haven’t yet had a chance to Implement it. I am, however, really looking forward to try it out this fall! I will conquer those stacks of essays this year!

  9. Yeah you will, Michelle! Thanks for the feedback. There can be a bit of a learning curve as you memorize the codes, but once you have ’em down you will FLY through your essay stacks. Promise. 🙂

  10. Thanks so much for letting me know this, Jenn! I love that your whole department is on board. Imagine the time savings! AND the students on your campus will really benefit from having consistent expectations from staff and procedures to follow when handling their essay corrections. You just made my day!

  11. meganmcrae727 says:

    I am loving these videos!! It makes your enthusiasm come alive-don’t stop making them! Your codes have saved my teaching life and I would be lost without them now. They really do make a difference in what students are able to produce and learn from using them. When I was pregnant with Brady boy last year, one of my 8th graders said Brady would be born spouting codes cause I’m all about them – haha. They all laughed, but then they all agreed they would be taking all of their writing resources from me (which were clearly all of your invaluable resources) to high school with them. You are simply the best at what you do!

  12. That’s funny, Meg! I love that the codes are burned on all of our brains. My first batch of essays arrive on Wednesday, so I’m getting ready to introduce a whole new group of students to the little codes that are going to rock their writing worlds! Thanks for this lovely note. You made my day!

  13. Trina Wilson says:

    I have been using your 5-minute grading system. I’ll admit that I’m not that fast at it yet, but it is coming along! 🙂 I thank you for all the work you put into creating that system.
    Anyway, my question to you is about how you calculate the content grade. Do you tally the content comments that you put in and take those away from the total you have on the sheet (50) or do you give each line on the rubric a point value and add that up at the end? (Top level lines worth 5 points, “B” worth 4 points, and so on…) I have a stack of essays that are all graded except for that element.
    I graded some essays one way earlier this year, and I felt like the grades were a bit low (and maybe they should be!), but wanted to check to make sure I wasn’t mis-using the idea here.
    Thanks so much!

  14. Hi Trina,
    Great question! I’m so glad you’re digging into the system. Once you memorize those codes, you’ll just get faster and faster. 🙂 Okay, as you’ve already noticed, the grammar and content grades are completely separate. In fact, I enter them as separate grades in the gradebook. Kids and parents know that each essay gets two grades – one for content and one for grammar. The grammar grade is easy, right? It’s just adding up the number of times a student committed one of the numbered grammar errors. Simple math.

    That content grade, though, is a little trickier and is determined by where the checkmarks fall on the rubric. The content codes are just there to save me from having to write (and rewrite…and rewrite) the same sorts of content-issue comments over and over. Content codes don’t directly or mathematically translate to the content grade, as the grammar codes do. Instead, they are writing guidance for students. It’s really just where the checkmarks fall on the rubric that determines the overall content grade.

    So, for the example on pg. 9 of the ebook, the bulk of the checkmarks fell into the “B” category. In my mind, I start there, giving the paper an 85 percent, a mid-B level grade. Then, I ratchet up or down a bit, depending on the value of the outliner checkmarks. In this case, flow, transitions, and MLA held more weight than a snappy title, so that slid the score down from 85 to 81, a B- at my school. Some teachers prefer to make each of the checkmarks on the rubric worth a specific number of points, but I haven’t needed to go that route. If a student questions one my content checkmarks, I just show him or her an “A” level paper and all questions magically go away. 🙂

    Hope this helps clarify things. This grading system, seriously, has saved my career. I’m in year 19 and going strong, mostly because of those little codes.

  15. I appreciate the videos and ALL of the hard work you put into your content. You have answered a prayer because the grading stack drama was REAL for me. Thanks so much and keep up the great work!


  16. Fantastic, Katanya! Of all of things I’ve built to share online with my colleagues, the grading system is – by far – my favorite. So glad these ideas will work for you! 🙂

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