SELECTIVE CORRECTING {Teacher Time Saver Tuesday}

Correcting student work can be a huge time commitment. Take all of the student assignments, multiply that number 18-30 students (give or take a few), and add in the need to analyze, scrutinize and criticize. Factor in applying stickers, writing comments and recording grades and you...well your out of luck because there simply not enough hours in the day to give your full attention and detail to each and every task your friends complete.

You can make you life easier by developing a system for correcting. Last week I mentioned that I find it useful to select one specific day to correct student work. You can simplify things even more if you are selective about what you correct.

Because you do not need to correct it all.

In fact, I truly believe it is better if you don't.

Here's why:
  • Students need time to practice skills. They will learn from their mistakes, but they need to be able to make them without worrying about red marks, Xs, etc.

  • Quality over quantity - I find it much more effective to devote a lot of energy to really analyzing a smaller sample of student work than I would if I needed to go through stacks of it.
  • If it's not completed independently then it's not an accurate example of a student's abilities.

  • Simply "correcting" work is a waste of time if the students can't learn and grow from it. I try to instead provide feedback and comments.
I correct district-required assessments, formal assessments, weekly spelling tests and select pages and activities that...
  • include skills that have been thoroughly taught
  • include skills that the students have had ample time to practice
  • are considered fair and accurate assessments of abilities
  • are completed independently
I do not correct homework because I can't be sure if a child had an adult coaching him through the entire assignment or if a child did it on the bus surrounded by noise and distraction. I ask that parents look over the work with their child and sign off on it. I look it over for glaring errors or misconceptions and to make sure it is reflective of quality effort, but never correct each problem or assign grades to it.

I had a stamps printed (for free) from Vistaprint that reads, "This was practice work" and another that reads, "Checked for Completion" and have a student stamp the piles for me as a class job. That lets the parent know that the work has been accounted for so they aren't just bringing uncorrected work home. 

I send these practice papers home in the Thursday folder.

Of course if you have a student who you are concerned about, you may want to check in on all assignments, but in general I think you'll find that being selective about what you correct will actually increase the effectiveness of your assessment of student progress.

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