Yahoo!  The end is near!

You can make it!  Soon you will have several days off to relax, celebrate with your family, and eat yummy food!

BUT first you have to finish school work.  Blah.  How many of you have report cards due around now?  Ours were usually due in January when we returned. Because of the holiday crazy season, I was usually greeted with a tub of grading when returning for the New Year. And it STUNK.

My last year teaching, I figured it out and didn’t grade AT ALL over the holiday AND had my report cards done early.  Think this is a mystical unicorn that is rare and never seen?  Nope! Let me share my tips for how I got it done with you!

You have probably hear this before.  DON’T grade everything.  Be very selective about what is going in the grade book.  Because, really, should you be grading any practice work?  Don’t kids need time to practice, figure it out, AND make mistakes?  
When we grade practice work, we are grading RATE of learning rather than learning.  Yes, at some point their is a deadline for when concepts should be mastered.  This is dictated by our districts, right?  But why do it earlier if it doesn’t help and support students?

I just looked over practice work and gave it a check to show it had been seen OR trashed it.  For real.

Certain grading tasks can take FOREVER.  Gah!  
Grading 25 pieces of writing was a huge task. Consider grading writing WITH your students.  Have the student with with you while you read over the writing and think aloud while marking the rubric. This way the student understand why they scored the  way they did.  It is NOT a waste of class time to provide your students feedback.
If you sit one-on-one with the 25 students in your class to grade their writing for 5 minutes apiece, that is only 125 minutes. If you spend 40 minutes on writing that is only about 3 days of class time. While you are conferencing with students, students can work on a “fun” holiday writing piece and craftivity. These don’t have to be graded and can be sent home for parents to enjoy the break! Here are some FREE suggestions:
A Cupcake for the Teachers shared this FREE and ADORABLE stocking craft and writing activity.

Julie Shope shared this precious and FREE Christmas Tree craft and writing activity.
When kids are finishing their test, quiz, assessment. or whatever you want to call it, have them bring it to YOU instead of the turn in box.  Grade the assessments as the kids finish them.  
There are two benefits of this.  First, you can get them graded and be done.  Always a bonus.  Two, the kids can find out their grade as soon as possible when it means something to them…rather than waiting a week when they have already forgotten!

 I think as teachers we tend to make assessments more elaborate than necessary at times. I am not saying we need to create simple assessments that assess the lower levels of learning.  I am just saying that 5-7 addition problems is as effective as 15.

I once heard a speaker that was sharing brain based learning strategies.  The speaker said that 5-7 questions on an assessment was optimal because it was the perfect amount that the brain could attend to without fatigue.  Or something like that. Whatever the speak said made me feel just fine about my short assessments.  Validated even.  So I am gonna stick with that!

This was my MAJOR weakness.  Since I taught all the way to the end, that meant I assessed all the way to the end.  I am not saying that you need to do fluff the last week of school before break. 
I am saying you need to plan carefully.  Do you really think students are going to give you their best effort 5 days before Santa comes? Also, what about the kids that are absent for travel?
Plan carefully to make sure you can fit in all the learning and assessing need so you are not pressured to assess the last two days of school.  I have done it before and it WAS horrible.  We did not feel the Christmas spirit in that classroom at all and I hated every second.  I am sure the kids did, too :(. I vowed to never do that again.

For some reason, I always felt like observational check lists didn’t count.  Like I needed some kind of paper SOMETHING to grade to PROVE my students had learned.  Looking back, that makes me sad. I only went to school for 6 years to be an effective teacher.  Why in the world would I not value my own opinion!!??!

Consider using checklists while students are reading during guided reading as evidence of student learning.  As long as students are reading a grade level text, there is no reason WHY we can’t score them!  Isn’t it most valuable to see students learning when they are apply newly acquired skills?  It is like a front row seat to the best party in the world!

One issue I DID have was finding appropriate assessments for my second graders.  We actually had to have common assessments across the grade level so that all students were given the same assessment.  In general, my team worked very well together so that wasn’t an issue. It was more FINDING things to use!

SO, I decided to help out a bit!  I wrote a few second grade appropriate assessments.

Four reading assessments are included.  The assessments cover:
*Authors purpose

* Character’s response to major events (approximate level of the passage  is mid 2nd grade)
* Story structure
* The observational checklist featured above

Four math assessments are included.  The assessments over:
* Two digit addition  (with and without regrouping)
* Two digit subtraction  (with and without regrouping)
* Measuring to the nearest inch and foot
* Measuring to the nearest centimeter and meter
Just click on the picture to get yours!!
Hopefully, these little freebies will make your December much smoother and easier to plan!

Click here for this great pack of FREE math centers, plus get tips and updates from me!

  If you would like more ideas from me, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay TeachersPinterest, and Facebook to catch all the freebies and ideas and more!

Published by Mandy Gregory

Mandy Gregory is a 2007 and 2012 Teacher of the Year. She has taught 4th, 3rd, and 2nd grade in both the general education and inclusion setting. She is the owner and creator of the Teaching Tips website ( and has over 10 years of experience. She is married with two beautiful children.

One reply on “Keep Assessing Simple:Tips and Tricks to Keep the Pile Under Control {FREEBIES}”

  1. Great post Mandy. Another tip is to have students correct their own work when you don't need a grade. They can sit on the floor with a clipboard and pen if you are worried that they will be tempted to change their original answers. It makes it really easy to tell at a glance who needs extra support and who is ready to move on.
    Grade School Giggles

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