Start Grading Papers Online Right Away: Part 1

After misplacing another student assignment, I was at my wits’ end. I work on a high school campus where teachers don’t have an assigned classroom. That means we move from room to room. Last year, I taught in two different rooms (Some of my colleagues taught in three!). Let me give you a snapshot of what it was like.

I would bring my load with me to each place. In classroom # 1, I would set up and teach for three periods. Then I would strike my workstation, and move it all to a common office all the English teachers shared, and set it up again to work on my prep period. Then I would strike it, move it, and set it up in Classroom # 2. Then I would strike it all and go home, usually setting up again to work on some open items left over from the day.

This was Monday through Friday. No wonder I lost papers! Midyear, I started getting desperate. I had to find a way to collect papers, keep a hold of them, and get the back to the students, all while on the move. I was past the point where I would let my skepticism keep me from trying online grading. So I started looking around. And what I found has forever changed how I will collect and grade essays.

This is a layered process that seems complex from the outside looking in. So I will post it in two parts.

Part 1: How I Collect Student Work Online

First thing’s first, Google. If you plan to follow my path, you’re going to have to do it through Google. And not just you, but your students too. All of them. Microsoft beats Google in online functionality, but Google has allowed third parties to run “add-ons” in their Google Drive applications for a long time, and some sharp people have come up with some great features. I will discuss those here.

1. Collecting Student Work.

I needed a way to collect student work quickly, efficiently, and effectively. I learned my lesson about five years ago that having students email you is a bad idea, especially if you have 150 of them sending you an assignment. I needed one place where I could get all student work and have it organized.

If you use Google Classroom, don’t skip this post! Doctopus makes Google Classroom even better! You can keep reading, or check out this video to see how to “ingest” Google Classroom assignments.

It turns out what I was looking for was Doctopus. This is an add-on for Google Sheets (Google’s version of Excel). The makers of Doctopus can explain it better than I can, especially because they have a cool video. I will list the steps below, but see the video to catch how it’s done.

Here are the steps:

  1. Open a Google Sheet to create a class roster.
    1. Do This for all of your classes.
    2. If you have Google Classroom, you do not need to do this.
  2. Title it your class and make a roster.
    1. Column A = First name
    2. Column B = Last name
    3. Column C = email
  3. Open another Google Sheet for the assignment you wish to give.
  4. Name the file after the assignment and the class roster.
  5. Get the add-on “Doctopus”.
  6. Gather students email addresses.
  7. Create the assignment in your Google Drive.
  8. Send to students.

Because I am using Google Drive to send this assignment to students, I have access to it throughout their work flow. I can watch them start their essay and go on to complete it. When they return it to me for submission, they are simply alerting me that they have completed it. There is also an “embargo” feature on Doctopus that pauses all students’ ability to work on their file, so you can stop them right where they are and assess that.

If you think it strange to use a tool called “Doctopus,” then you will have to join us for part 2, where I will introduce you to a tool with an even weirder name: Goobric. So far, it’s the best tool I have come across for grading papers online.

Have you found a good way to collect student work online that is efficient and effective? How’s your experience with Doctopus been? Let us know in the comment section. And if you know this speaks to one of your colleague’s needs, share with that person!

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