The last few weeks I have been looking for ways to make my assessments more effective and quicker to grade. As I reflected on the first semester of school, I found there was one area of my grading system with which I found myself growing frustrated And no, the sheer amount of grading wasn't one of them. As an English teacher, it's par for the course.
One area I was frustrated with was the quick beginning-of-the-class review I often give students. I have done this in a number of ways. Sometimes I verbally ask students questions, but I find only a handful of students have the opportunity to respond. Other times, I have given a paper/pencil option where students respond to a short-answer question or multiple-choice questions. Often these were not quick as students took longer than expected in responding. Many times I would collect their responses with the intention of looking at their results during class, only to find that time has gotten away from me and students were long gone before I could view their responses. This delayed analysis prevented me from helping students who were struggling until the next class.
These frustrations led me to analyze my purpose for this activity. It wasn't to give students another grade in the grade book, rather I want to know what they understand from the previous day's work. I need the assessments to be quick and to the point, but I also need students' to be engaged in the assessments.
This led me to Plickers, a tech tool that allows me to give quick, formative assessments. It's a quick polling tool. The advantage to Plickers is that students do not need a device to participate. I don't have to wait for students to log in to a computer, or download an app, or try to remember their passwords and log ins. Students use cards that I printed out on card stock. Each card has a multiple choice option on one of the four sides of the card. I display the questions through my LCD projector and students hold up the side of the card that displays their answer choice. I use my phone or iPad to scan the room.
I have the results I need in minutes. My high school students like the old-school and new-school mix of technology. I like that they are all engaged.
I don't use Plickers for every formative assessment, but I have found that it is perfect for those quick reviews and checks for understanding I often give at the beginning and end of every class.
I would love to know what you do in your grading practices that you think are efficient and worthy of you and your students' time.