Jun 21, 2020 - 5 min read - 227 views

Grading Interactive Notebooks

So you took the plunge and started implementing INB's now how on earth do you grade them? Here are my tips for NEVER taking them home and grading.

Most teachers love working with their students and creating awesome interactive lessons. It's the best part of the job, but I have yet to meet a teacher that loves grading all of that student work. Don't make the same mistakes I have seen others do and make your INB grading easy and WAY more time-efficient.

Follow the below INB grading tips and tricks to save your sanity and spend more quality time at home.

How I grade my INB's

I am going to let you in on a secret! I only grade my students INB's 8 times a year. 1 time for each unit of instruction. What is even better... I finish all of my grading within 1 single class period while my students are completing silent work! What is my secret? Well on the day of their summative unit assessment, I have students clear off their desks except for a pencil and their INB's. Then I use my class roster to alphabetically call each student up to my desk/ workspace with their INB's open to the first page that I will be grading. I have the student place their OPEN INB on my desk and take their assessment from me. I do this with each student. When all of the tests are passed out students begin silent work and I start grading.

The alphabetical stacking of their INB's is not necessary, but it makes entering in their grades quicker. If you think you can just have your students turn in their closed INB's in a location or bin you just gave yourself a significant amount of extra work. Do not underestimate the time it takes to open an INB, flip through, and find pages. I promise the crazy open stack method is worth it.

Once the students are working on their tests, the grading frenzy begins. Since I have a very specific format of my INB's (see my Guide to INB's post), I know what EACH page should look like and grading is easy. I try to keep my units between 3-4 instructional notes pages  so I will have equal creative output pages. With my unit 2 intro pages included, I never have an INB check with over 10 pages to grade.

Points - I assign each page a set number of points for grading and based on their effort and accuracy of the information they will earn those points. Make sure your total points per page will equal 100 or as close as you can get to it. It rarely happens, but if the total point number equals less than 100 I just count those extra points as a gift.

Now that the points are determined for each page, you start grading. I start speed reading through each page, I put checks or happy faces for the work that is completed or exemplary and then a -# for things on pages that are missing. I mentally keep track of the total number I am deducting and when I get to the last page I just quickly calculate 100-12=88  and write that 88 down on the bottom of the last page.

Once the grade is written down and I don't have to keep track of the math, I will take a few extra seconds to write a positive note of praise or a constructive note for improvement for the students that need them. I may also go back through to a specific page I loved or saw needed some help and write my comments. I do not do this for every page or with each student's INB I grade. At the end of the year, I always flip through their nearly finished INB and see that each student did get specific praise at one point or another. Make sure you have your students write their name in permanent marker on the front and inside cover of their INB so you can figure out who actually earned the 88 for their work and then add it into your gradebook.

This is a very quick process.  You get faster with practice and by planning consistent expectations for pages, again see my guide if you need ideas for that. Some teachers are probably reading this and thinking how barbaric! After all, these students are spending 4-5 weeks on these 10 pages and I spend 1-2 minutes grading all of the hard work... is that even grading!?

Here is why this works so well and fast, I spot "grade" often throughout the unit. How? Well, when students want to work on a lab or new project and pick their group, guess what?  They have to show me a specific page or pages completed before I give them permission to move on. I do not do this for all pages, but enough that I normally have a few pages previously graded when I do the final grading at the end of the unit. I love doing this because it allows me to see and help out struggling students as we are learning material. Another way I add a quick "grade" is having them show me a page that is completed as they come to pick up their next assignment or homework. Again, doing this throughout the unit allows me to constantly check for understanding and reduce the time I have to spend on a page when I grade the whole thing. Also, If I have a day where I finish early (it rarely happens, but we've all been there), I have students show me their completed INB work before I let them pack up early or do a finished early activity.

I like giving 2 review days prior to unit testing, the 2nd review day is full of fun game review options but not required so I build in time for students to catch up and finish their INB's prior to grading and depending on what I have going on or how much my students need me I may also do pre-grading. I do that by saying my students have x, y, and z options to prepare for testing and INB grading the next day, but if they want to play the x,y, and z review game they must first show me their finished INB. I will only put the grade in if its a 100 and let the students that are still missing a few things know what they need to work on. Once I started doing this "games for quality finished work" system of early grading my 100's skyrocketed!

So that is how I manage my grading. I am always able to grade and pass back their INB's while my students are doing silent study hall after their test. I DO NOT take INB's home to grade. In my support facilitated classes that need more assistance and guidance during testing I will grade their stack of INB's during my planning period or plan a quiet new unit video intro/ extended time/ test make up for the next day of class and do my grading then!

I hope these tips help. I know a lot of other teachers use printed rubrics for INB grading, but this is the method that works best for me. It took me a few rounds to get comfortable with my system and grade fast, but if you stick with it I promise it will be worth it!

Pro Tip: Get a custom made self-inking stamp made. I got mine from office depot for around $20 and use it for your spot grading!