Minimalist Grading – #teacherlife 101

One of the biggest ways I maintain my sanity and avoid teacher burnout is minimizing my grading routine. My way of simplifying and becoming a minimalist grader not only adds hours of me-time to my weeks, but adds valuable learning opportunities you may be missing out on!

I learned this method early on, and cannot go back to the old school method. Old method: Pass out papers – Students answer the questions – Students turn in their papers – Teacher grades papers – Teachers sends home graded work. This does not benefit you, and it doesn’t really benefit your students.

Ready for my simple way of simplifying?

Only grade what is truly needed for a formative or summative assessment grade. All other papers can be used as a valuable extra learning opportunity!

Here is what I do with 75% of the assignments. Instead of having students turn it in to be graded, use that assignment as a discussion piece to build understanding and correct misconceptions. This prepares students to turn in that formative assessment for a grade. Formative assessments prepare students for those summative assessments at the end of the unit.

This works both as a whole class discussion over each question and answer OR as a small group discussion. What an opportunity to have students self-assess and see their own misconceptions. What an opportunity to have students elaborate on their answers, making them better, using the ideas and discussion points of their teacher and their peers. What an opportunity for more learning than simply seeing how many questions they got correct.

For me, I plan one formative assessment per week per subject. Summative assessments are usually every 3-4 weeks depending on when units end.

Changes like this (big or small) have always been a priority for me because you cannot pour from an empty cup. Us teachers have a lot of work to do and a lot on our minds. We need and deserve to leave work on time and to have weekends to refuel.

Next Tuesday, watch for another #teacherlife 101 to help you streamline your planning and prepping. PLUS I will link to my FREE planning resources to help you gain some time and sanity back!

I hope you found this #TeacherTipTuesday helpful!

-Alicia (Elementary Ali)

4 thoughts on “Minimalist Grading – #teacherlife 101

  1. Leslie K says:

    I LOVE this idea! Do you ever have trouble with students completing the practice work, especially in the virtual environment?

    • Elementary Ali says:

      Hi Leslie! I haven’t had many troubles with completion of practice work in the classroom. Maybe because I don’t announce that I’m not taking it for a grade, so they don’t know going into it whether we will go over it in class. I am not currently teaching in the virtual environment. I am making digital resources and supporting teachers in that role. You can offer simple rewards or acknowledgement for students completing their work, if they need more motivation. I have seen teachers and students having great success going over work in small group Webex meetings. The virtual environment can be incredibly challenging and I’d be happy to brainstorm with you if you’re having trouble with students completing work!

  2. Leslie K says:

    I don’t have a huge problem with this, but do have a number of students, and it seems to be growing, who are disengaged. We go hybrid next week, so hopefully that will increase engagement. Thank you for the offer! And for the prompt feedback 🙂

    • Elementary Ali says:

      There are so many distractions at home that kids seem to really struggle staying on the computer to work. I bet hybrid will help a ton! My personal kids are thriving now that they got to go back in-person. They were so tired of the computer and having to work on it for 9 weeks. Hang in there!! Your students are lucky to have you 🙂

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