Monday, October 6, 2014

Never Have to Grade Homework!

A while back I talked about how I give "colorful feedback" to my students using this color system.

Instead of marking problems on a quiz "right" or "wrong," I mark them with green, yellow, or red.  This type of feedback gives students much more information about how they are doing with a certain standard.  In addition, I used to be frustrated when students would just look at the grade at the top of a quiz or test and ignore comments or marks I made on their work.  This color system has helped tremendously!

I also use this technique for homework*.  This system frees up so much time!  I never have to take home stacks of homework to grade… ever!  I have students self-grade and then I quickly look through the papers and notice trends of certain problems that got red marks or how much green etc.  Students are honest in the grading process because they know that they won't be punished with a poor grade if they don't do well (I do standards based grading).

I LOVE this system for lots of reasons.  Here are a few:

1. Students are more engaged in the homework grading process
2. It helps students organize their thoughts and reflect about the problems
3. It leads to better questions being asked from the students
4. It gives me immediate feedback on students' understanding of the assignment
5. No grading of homework for me!!!

One issue I had last year was that students did not always come prepared to class with their colors.  Here are two ideas to help with the management of that:

1. Have students use 3 different symbols to represent each color (smiley face if they get it, medium face if they kind of get it, frown if they don't get it).
2. Provide colors for your students to use.  This year I'm going to try providing a red pen, green pen, and yellow highlighter in a pencil box which I will pass out/collect when we go over homework.

*Ever since I read The Homework Myth by Alfie Kohn in grad school, I have been struggling with my feelings towards homework… to give it or not. (more on this tomorrow) I've settled on a moderate amount.  I realize practice is good, but I don't give homework every night and I really try to make sure the work in meaningful and not busy work.  

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