I love using Interactive Notebooks in high school and sharing this love with others. Still, the number one question that I get from teachers is how to manage grading Interactive Notebooks without letting it take over your life. I’m here today to tell you that it is possible, as long as you set yourself up for success. Here are some tips for making grading Interactive Notebooks easier and faster.
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Decide when you’ll grade.
I like to collect my notebooks at least once per unit, and twice if it’s a particularly intensive or long unit. I decided never to take Interactive Notebooks home, so that means I need to grade in class or at school sometime.
The easiest time to grade is during a unit test or project.
I can get students started on their tests, and then get to work on the notebooks. Generally, it takes me two minutes per notebook. I get faster as the year goes on and I can read students’ handwriting better, and I can finish most of a class’ notebooks in one sitting. This leaves a few for me to finish after school before I go home.
Use a Rubric for Grading Interactive Notebooks
I always give students a rubric when we start a new unit [grab an editable rubric here!], and they glue it in the back of their notebooks on designated pages. Since my school has a points-based system, ours breaks down into points per page. Whatever system your school uses, you NEED a rubric so that you can set clear expectations for your students. [Read more about how I use rubrics in the classroom.]
Most of the time, the rubric is super speedy. If I’ve conceptualized ahead of time what each level of proficiency for a given spread will look like, I can check things off quickly. Often, students will get full points for just having a vocab list present and labeled – this is totally on purpose, since I want the Interactive Notebook to be a reference tool for them.
Give targeted, concise feedback.
The big secret to making grading Interactive Notebooks much easier is to give targeted, concise feedback. Giving meaningful feedback does not mean writing on every page. Sometimes, we get so caught up with writing on every page, that we end up commenting on a lot of minutia, instead of giving the students big-picture feedback. What’s worse is that sometimes, we spend twenty minutes on one notebook, and get too burnt out to help other students.
Instead, try designating a page at the back of the notebook for comments on each unit. I set my rubrics up for space for notes, but you can also designate a regular page for this and leave comments throughout the year in the same place.
Give every student 2-3 comments:
*1 + (a high-order skill they performed well)
*1 Δ (a high-order or low-order concern to be addressed)
*1 + (a low-order skill they performed well)
By keeping your comments brief, you assure that you manage grading Interactive Notebooks on a timeline that works for you. You also guarantee your students will read your feedback. After all, it’s only three sentences!
These are my top three tips for making grading Interactive Notebooks a breeze. This keeps my energy high so that I can use Interactive Notebooks all year long.
What are your tips, friends? What burning questions do you still have? Leave me a comment, or reach out on Instagram @nouvelle_ela.