8 Ideas to Make Digital Grading Quick and Easy

Digital, Writing

Digital resources have transformed the way my students learn, interact, and create in our physical classroom. On our end, we create engaging multimedia lessons, share them with ease through our digital classroom, and then…we collect hundreds of assignments that stare at us from their digital classroom home. For the teacher, digital grading largely is still grading: strenuous, timely, and burdensome, and in some cases, it’s worse. Opening window after window in your browser and waiting for them to load takes valuable extra time that I know you just don’t have.

I know this frustration all too well. I’ve been using Google Classroom for five years now, and since then, we’ve gone digital with informal writing, like our bellringers and exit tickets, and formal writing, like our research project. (You can read about how to use digital stations here and digital research projects here.)  collecting grading time-savers little by little. In the fall, I shared some of these grading  ideas over on my Instagram account, and I received many requests to put them all together in one place. Today, I am SO excited to share my complete list of Google grading secrets to save you time, energy, and aggravation, while still providing valuable feedback. You’ll be amazed at how these little tricks and will transform the way you grade.

Digital grading can be timely and frustrating, but it doesn't have to be! Here are eight ideas to make digital grading more efficient and less burdensome.

1. Use preview mode for completion-based digital grading.

Don’t you hate waiting for student documents to load in Google Classroom, especially if you’re giving a completion grade? You know, those assignments you want to flip through to check for completion. Well, by the time you click on all of them and they all load, your computer is running on snail-speed and you could have printed assignments graded and returned. Preview mode will solve all of your loading issues. Preview mode gives you a way to toggle between documents quickly and efficiently.

2. Add Doctopus and Goobric extensions for speedy rubric-based digital grading.

If you need to grade for more than completeness, Doctopus gives you the ability to toggle between Google Doc assignments. You’re not in a preview mode for this one, so you can leave comments and feedback right in the document. If you use the optional Goobric compliment, you also can attach a rubric for even faster grading. You can find my free directions for Doctopus and Goobric here.

3. Create text replacements to save common comments.

Do you ever find yourself typing the same comment over and over again? By creating a text replacement, you can save these comments and insert them right into your document with a simple keyword. I suggest making your text replacement words simple so you can remember them without looking.  To prevent text replacement from replacing a word that you don’t want it to replace, you can add a number or special character at the end. For example, topicsentence1 would be replaced with “Use a topic sentence that connects back to the thesis statement to begin this paragraph.” To edit text replacements,

  1. Click on Tools > Preferences.
  2. Add your text to be replaced and the text you want to use as the replacement.*

*Make sure you’re in suggestion mode for this process so your comment will stand out in the text and add a comment.

4. Drag and drop stock comments with Google Keep.

If remembering a text replacement keyword doesn’t sound good to you, you can use Google Keep to drag and drop common comments. Google Keep is a note-taking application that you can use for creating notes (in our case common comments), like text replacement. However, with Google Keep, you can drag and drop comments into a document that’s in suggesting mode and the comment will be added to the document. This process saves so much time and effort, and you don’t have to type or remember anything. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to www.keep.google.com.
  2. Create a new label, and call it grading.
  3. Create notes for each stock comment.
  4. In your document, click Tool > Keep Notepad.
  5. Drag and drop comments from your sidebar into your document.*

*Suggestion mode works best for this one too.

5. Dictate your comments with Voice Typing.

Don’t feel like typing a long, personalized comment? Use Voice Typing to leave a comment and all you have to do is speak while the computer dictates your response. Remember to say, “period,” at the end of each sentence so that you don’t have one long run-on sentence. Follow these simple steps to add a voice comment:

  1. Click on Tools > Voice Typing.
  2. Click the microphone popup to speak.
  3. Allow the document to use your microphone.
  4. When you’re done, click on the microphone to end your comment.

6. Pull the paragraph into a Google Sheet to grade all responses on one sheet.

Pull the Paragraph is a Google add-on that pulls designated paragraphs from students’ Google Docs into one Google Sheet. This makes it possible to read student writing without opening all of those document windows. Also, you can leave feedback in the Google Sheet that is attached back to the student document. To get started with Pull the Paragraph, check out this post.

7. Add a discussion board to quickly assess and give feedback for digital writing.

One of my best secrets for grading and giving feedback is to use a discussion board format in Google Classroom versus a Google Doc or Google Slides. This underutilized option gives you the ability to ask a question for students to answer in paragraph form. Then, you can provide feedback directly on each student response without opening up any separate windows.

Use a discussion board in Google Classroom to quickly grade student's digital writing.

8. Create an open-ended Google Form quiz.

With this option, you can ask multiple questions or give multiple prompts and ask students to answer in the Google Form. You can then toggle between students for feedback or you can download a Google Sheet with their responses to grade in one document. It’s a good idea to ask students to complete the assignment in Google Docs first (especially if it is a long assignment) because Google Forms may not save their progress.

To get the most out of these tricks and tips, my best suggestion is to find your favorites, combine them when possible, and always plan ahead with grading in mind. The key is finding what works for you. I’d love for you to share any additional tips you might have in the comments below. You also can check out some of my favorite digital writing resources below!

Bellringers and exit tickets are great routines to establish any of the time. Read about how I revamped my bellringers and exit tickets for my New Year's Resolution.

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