Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stop Correcting All of Those Papers!

I hate correcting papers. It is one of those mundane tasks that I procrastinate doing until I have a huge pile of papers, causing me to feel overwhelmed and stressed.  I've been working on ways to reduce the amount of correcting in order to eliminate this stress-er from my life.

Student Self-Correcting
When I sit home correcting papers, what is it really doing for kids? Even spending time writing detailed feedback on their papers isn't a guarantee that they will read it. As much as I can, I am building time into the day for students to correct their own work. This provides them with immediate feedback instead of waiting until I get around to checking their work. We often correct papers together and although it takes time, the children enjoy the feedback and I enjoy the one less paper to correct.

I often provide copies of answers, which students use to correct their work. I usually do this for AM work. Students know to show their self-corrected paper to me before they put it in their mailbox to go home. That way I can do a quick check and reteach if needed, as well as give them a positive comment for what they have done well. Again, instant feedback and one less paper to correct!

Less Worksheets and More Meaningful Activities
It is so easy to get seduced by an attractive worksheet. But if I was a student would I be thinking to myself, "I can't wait to get to school! We are going to be doing worksheets today!" Before making copies of that worksheet, I've been trying to think about other ways that the concepts on the worksheets could be taught. With worksheets, who is doing most of the work? I am! I copy them, I organize them,  and I correct them. I am trying to instead think about how I can put the bulk of the work into the students' hands so that they produce something that is more relevant to their lives rather than do isolated worksheet practice items.

Correct the Paper While Students Work on It
I often do this during math. As I walk around to check in and help students, I also correct the items that they have done so far. Even if I don't get all of the papers corrected, I am reducing the number of items that I will later have to correct AND students are getting immediate feedback as they work.

Correct Tests and Quizzes As They Finish
When my students complete a test or quiz they know to do only one thing, read! When I see a student reading, I take their test and correct it. I keep correcting until all of the papers are done. Students are busy reading and that is never a waste of time. Once again, I can show them immediately how they did and help them with areas they struggled with on the spot.

These are strategies I've tried so far and I will continue to experiment with ways to reduce my correcting time. What strategies do you use?


  1. I love correcting Tests and quizzes as they finish. I have found this to be vey effective in that I am able to go over questions they missed or pull a small group to reteach.

  2. For math each day I put 5 to 10 problems on the board for them to do after I have taught the lesson. They must do those problems and bring them to me to check before beginning their assigned book work. This enables me to give each student immediate feedback, and allows me to do prescriptive teaching right on the spot. Then they return to their seats to do their assignment. As they finish their assigned book work, they go to the checking station, get a red pen, and check their own work.

    1. Thank you so much for the idea, Paula. I have started doing the 5-10 problems on the board. After the lesson, they do the problems in their math notebooks and bring to me before moving on. I call the board problems "Level 1" and if they pass that, they move on to "Level 2" and so on. They love the video game connection to moving up levels and I love being able to provide increasing challenges for those who need it!