grading student work

How Much Time Should We Spend Grading Student Work From Our Literacy Centers?

Hey, there teacher friend! I have a HUGE question for you. Well not so huge, but that’s beside the point. How much time do you spend grading student work from your literacy centers? Is it worth it? Is there a teacher grading hack that we haven’t heard about? What if there was a way around the stacks of student papers that pile up?

Should I Worry About Grading Student Work?

Grading student work is something that takes a large time investment. As a teacher, we have three million things to do and 2 million decisions to make. So let’s talk about grading students’ work and even some grading hacks I have for you.

A few weeks ago, I polled my social media friends, and got a lot of great feedback and ideas about having a grading system in place for your literacy centers. It was a very helpful conversation to have. 

Having A Goal For Your Grading System

With anything in education, you need a goal. And this is no different. You need a goal for grading student work. And here are some questions to think about!

Grading Systems Questions To Ask Yourself

Are you wanting your students to show responsibility at their literacy centers? If so, then you might want to grade for completion. 

Do you want to check if your students understand the skill they’re working on? If that is the case, then grading student work would be a little more thorough.

But let’s also talk about teacher guilt for a moment. (Yes, I went there) . It’s a REAL THING. When I was in the classroom, teacher guilt was coming from both my administration and it was totally self-imposed. Teachers are trained to give 110% to their students, which of course is statistically impossible! I think when it comes to grading student work, I know I felt like I was being irresponsible or lazy if I DIDN’T get to it. But when I look back at it, the truth was that I didn’t have time.

We have to give ourselves grace to skip tasks that won’t reach our goals of helping our students grow both to prepare them for the next year, but also foster the love of learning.

And if grading student work at your literacy centers is taking time away from other important tasks in your classroom then you need to give yourself permission to NOT DO IT! Repeat after me, it’s okay!

Ideas To Manage Your Literacy Center Grading System

Not Grading Student Work At All!

No grading. That’s right NONE! Like I mentioned, if you don’t have time then don’t worry about it. You can also use a dry erase board instead of paper. This will save you on the amount of photocopying you are doing. You can have a system in place where your students put their papers in their folders or classroom mailboxes right after your literacy centers are finished. If you’re going to do this, you might want to inform your parents that sometimes work will come home that won’t be finished or graded from your literacy centers.

Spot Check Grading

There are so many great alternatives to grading, and one of them includes “spot check grading”. Seesaw would be a great tool for spot-checking. I found it super helpful to scroll through the work either for completion or just an overview of how my students did on their tasks. Then I could click “approve all” and I was done with my literacy center student grading! This is seriously a game-changer. 

Spot check grading is great for formative assessments. If you’re interested in how your students are doing on a particular skill, then this is a great grading system to use. The data that you get from your literacy center activities then can be used to regroup your students or to see who needs extra help during guided reading.

Grading Student Work – ALL of it?

If you’re feeling up for a challenge, then you can grade ALL the center things. Let me give you something to consider if you’re going to grade every paper from every student, every day. The first thing is that it’s unrealistic that you’re going to be able to keep up. 

The second thing is that you’re also grading work that might be done in groups, or let’s be honest, copied from another student that was at the same center. You’re going to be teaching guided reading, so you’re not going to see everything that happens at your centers. 

If you have to grade all your work, that’s something to keep in mind, especially if you’re considering putting those grades in your grade book.

Teacher Grading Hacks

So let’s cover some grading hacks! We talked about using dry erase boards instead of paper, and we talked about spot-checking with Seesaw. You could also have a former student come to you during their recess once a week and volunteer their time to check your student’s work. 

I was always THAT kid who played school with my stuffed animals in the summer, so I would have LOVED that job. If I was a fourth or fifth grader, I would have LOVED to go help my first-grade teacher. 

You could also take a moment (if you can find it) after your literacy centers to review your work as a whole class. You can do peer grading, or take that moment to have everything out on your student’s desk and walk around to spot-check their work.

I hope these ideas for student grading and grading hacks gave you something to think about when you’re planning your literacy centers. If you’re interested, you can also check out my grading hacks in YouTube form here!

Happy Grading! (Or Not) 🥴

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Rachael Hull

Rachael Hull

Teaching literacy and facilitating literacy stations has been a passion of Rachael's and she wants to help you gain confidence in your classroom!


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