Does your desk look like a mountain full of papers to be graded? It can be hard to not get overwhelmed by all of the papers that students turn in. As class sizes increase, the number of papers you need to grade increases. If you have 30 students in your class and they turn in three assignments for four different subject areas, you are suddenly talking about over 300 pieces of paper to grade.
Here are some tips to help you regain grading sanity.
Don't grade it
Was the work practice? Is it going to change the way you teach? If the paper was practice or the results are not really going to change the way you teach the students, then maybe it doesn't need to be graded at all. It is ok to not grade a piece of paper.
Have students grade the work
Sometimes I get out the pens and have students grade their own work. If you give them a rubric, they can pre-grade their work. If students help set up the rubric, they normally give themselves honest feedback.
Other times, I turn the whole grading idea into a game. "Ok everyone, the next problem is _____. You have 3 minutes to work on it. Ok, the timer went off. Switch with your partner." I then explain or better yet, have a student explain the correct answer. "Hand back your papers. Raise your hand if you are on team A and got the correct answer. Raise you hand if you are on team B and got the correct answer."
Students won't let students on the other teach cheat. You get immediate feedback on how students are doing. You have nothing to grade. Suddenly, that worksheet is a fun game.
Only grade one part or one skill at a time
You do not need to grade every part of an essay. Let students know that you are going to focus on their lead, or their conclusion, or how they support their ideas with specific details. You can't learn ten different things at one time, so there is no need to grade ten different things at one time. Too much information can mean that nothing sticks.
Students really enjoy rubrics. They make it clear to the student about why s/he received a particular grade. If you get students involved in creating the rubric, there is even more buy in. On top of that, rubrics cut down your grading time.
Teach students to give each other feedback
You do not need to be the only person that gives students feedback. Teach students how to have meaningful conversations about their writing. Let students give each other feedback.
Every student does not need to turn in everything at the same time. Or you can have different classes turn in assignments on different days. Or make sure that projects for math are turned in on a different day than projects for writing etc.
What is your favorite time saving tip for grading?