They’ve Finished their Interactive Notebook Assignments… NOW WHAT?
You’ve made the decision to use Interactive Notebooks in your classroom and now you have questions…
“Do I really have to grade all of that?”
“How will I find the time?”
“How do I get my students to turn in quality work?”
“What do I grade and when?”
Well, friends, you’ve come to the right place!
We are going to answer these four questions for you,
so let’s jump right in!
Top Mistakes When Grading Interactive Notebooks
One of the greatest concerns of teachers when using Interactive Notebooks in their classrooms is the amount of time that it takes to grade the assignments. We have watched many teachers set out on the journey of implementing Interactive Notebooks in their classrooms, only to see them burn out and complain about the amount of work it is to keep up with grading the assignments. Teachers will give an assignment, collect all of the notebooks, flip through multiple pages, grade a few assignments and then pass back the notebooks. Pretty soon, teachers fall behind and the amount of grading gets so overwhelming that they stop grading Interactive Notebooks altogether.
Another mistake that teachers make when using Interactive Notebooks in their classrooms is that they don’t grade assignments. Interactive Notebooks are called “INTERACTIVE” for a reason. Yes, Interactive Notebooks are a way for students to “Interact” with their content, but they are also meant to be “Interactive” between the student and teacher. This interaction is the key to making Interactive Notebooks successful! Students want you to see the work that they have done. You should want to see their understanding of the content you are teaching! If teachers do not check their students’ work, they will get lazy and they won’t give the assignments the attention that they need to master a concept. Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to get to know your students!
There’s Another Way to Grade Interactive Notebooks!
What if we told you that grading Interactive Notebooks could be low stress and manageable? What if we told you that all it takes is 15-20 each day when grading Interactive Notebooks? It’s true! Are you ready to learn how? We are going to help you with three ways to make grading Interactive Notebooks less stressful and manageable for you!
Before we begin, we are going to ask that you erase the idea that you have to check all of your students’ assignments on the same day. For example, if a teacher assigns a journal, most teachers think that they should grade all of the journals on the same day. We are suggesting the complete opposite. Give students time! If you want quality work, give students time to put their best effort into their assignment! Give yourself the gift of time and push this idea out of your mind. It’s simply impossible and it will lead to burn out if you don’t!
First, we are going to give you two images that might help you visualize when we grade. Look at the images. Notice that we teach an entire unit before we grade an Interactive Notebook. (Our units are a month long.)
We teach a unit, give a list of assignments that will be graded to the students, and then check those assignments while we are teaching the next unit. We conference and set goals based off of this grading for the next unit.
Informal Grading… “Spot Checking”
For us, there are two steps to grading Interactive Notebooks. There is the formal grading with the checklists and feedback forms, and there is also informal grading that we call Spot Checking. We definitely “Spot Check” on a daily basis. We will circle missing assignments and give suggestions to students informally. To “Spot Check”, we simply have all of our students open up to an assignment and glance over the work to offer suggestions and note any incomplete work. We will document this on our homework checklist to catch it right away, rather than let it pile up on a student.
Formally Grading Interactive Notebooks
After a unit is over, we will pick the top 10-12 assignments that we want our students to complete with excellence in their Interactive Notebooks. Did you catch that? We only pick 10-12 assignments that we will grade. You do not need to grade EVERYTHING! Time Saver Alert! Teachers can glance at an assignment to check for completion, but all assignments do not have to be graded. If you graded every assignment, you would be overwhelmed… not to mention, your students would be overwhelmed trying to complete all of the assignments to the level of quality that you expect. Let them focus on the most important assignments that you have identified. We always have students glue in a checklist of these assignments at the end of a unit, along with our Teacher Feedback forms. Assignment checklists are also great for parents so that they know which assignments will be graded. Students can use the checklists to focus in on the assignments that will be formally graded by the teacher.
A Schedule for Grading Interactive Notebooks
In our classroom, we have between 30 and 32 students. In order to make grading Interactive Notebooks manageable, we grade three Interactive Notebooks each day over the course of two weeks. The first concern that a lot of teachers might have is: “Wait, you’re telling me that some students will have their work graded on day 1, while other students will have a week more to complete their assignments? That’s not fair!” Our answer: It might not be fair this month, but it will be the next month. (And plus… All of your students have already had a month to perfect their assignments!) Notice in the image below that we shuffle everyone’s number and spread them randomly across two weeks. It’s not fair if you grade #1-4 first every single month and have a set schedule. Mix it up!
That’s a wrap, everyone!
We hope that this blog post has helped you to see that grading Interactive Notebooks is worth your time, can be manageable, and will make a difference in your classroom!
This blog post is a series of blog posts that we hope you will follow along with!
If you missed our first blog post about Interactive Notebooks,
Next up in our Interactive Notebook Series:
-3 Ways to Make Interactive Notebooks EVEN Better
-Setting Goals through Interactive Notebooks
-Conferences after Grading Interactive Notebooks
Need resources to support you when grading Interactive Notebooks? We’ve got you covered!
Here is a toolkit with everything you need AND it’s Editable!!!!
CLICK the image below!
If you ever have any questions, we are here to help you out!
Leave a question in the comments below or you can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org