Paperless essay grading

It can be overwhelming for a teacher to feel compelled (or mandated) to “use more technology” in the classroom. Sometimes is seems that the required to quantify assessment and use data analysis results in the de-personalization of feedback and is of less value to students.

Technology integration doesn’t have to mean building a rocket or using GIS data in a lab; technology can be a tool that allows teachers to do their jobs more efficiently. Katrina Kennett (@katrinakennett) shows us a great example by using a spreadsheet to track and grade essays against a rubric without sacrificing personal feedback. Katrina uses Google Docs to share student evaluations – the result is part living documentation of progress, part portfolio, part conversation. Add it all up and a student sees their teacher model 21st century fluency, understands what is expected of an assignment, and receives guidance on how they can improve.

To learn more about Ms. Kennett’s use of Paperless Grading and the formulas she is employing, visit


7 thoughts on “Paperless essay grading

  1. Pingback: Somewhere in New Jersey an ESL Teacher Begins Using an Ipad #1 « lectograph

  2. Wow, my husband and I are both educators and are super impressed by your work here. Great job! How, though, do you “return” the work to the students? Do you share your Google Spreadsheet with each student? Isn’t that a pain to do for each piece of work? Thanks for your suggestions and thoughts!

    1. Hi Christina –

      Thanks for your enthusiasm! I’d love to help if you start integrating online rubrics like this. I did share each student rubric with them at the beginning of the year, which is a lot of work on the front-end for me (but then I am the ‘owner’). However, once that’s done, I only have to update them with each assignment. I ‘return’ them simply by filling them out on my end and printing a hard copy that I hand back in class the next day. Some students keep tabs on the virtual copy, some wait for the hard copy, but it takes the pressure off the summative ‘what did I get’ focus.

      One trick I’ve recently learned is to make a master rubric for the assignment and then “copy to” the student’s version as I grade their work. That way the formulas/formatting stays intact, and I just need to add my initials. If Google could export a spreadsheet to a batch of workbooks (instead of one at a time), I would be able to push out a class set. Until then, I’m getting closer to fewer clicks every day…

      Hope this helps – I’d love to hear more if you have questions/comments!

  3. Pingback: Somewhere in New Jersey an ESL Teacher Begins Using an Ipad #1 | infixes

  4. This is great, and something I’ve been looking to do for some time – I love your solution with conditional formatting only looking for your initials, and the =IF grading just using a period and =RIGHT. The dialogue idea looks even more interesting, although I wonder how you tackle student expectations: for example, if you over-promise but then have to backtrack and under-deliver in terms of grades.

    As an aside, I used a Google form and a spreadsheet with preset formulae in a similar way to put students into team member roles at the start of a module:

  5. Pingback: thinkblender | Google Forms & Classroom Assessment: The iPad app

  6. My class is a 21st Century classroom (1:1 iPad and laptop) and I have been trying to use innovative ideas to ensure student learning. I must say that I am hooked this blog and am excited to try many of the new ideas. One of my goals has been to go paperless in my sixth-grade class. However, I have had much opposition from parents wanting to see student work. I also am finding it difficult to provide a “cleaner” way to respond to writing samples. Through using the Google Docs, I feel this would solve a couple of my problems.
    Currently, as students complete writing samples, they email them to me as PDFs. I open them in Preview, make notations, and email the PDFs back to the students. However, the notations do not appear orderly and my responses are somewhat subjective. I struggled with finding a way to add a rubric as a response.
    With using Google Docs document, the standard created rubric appears much more objective and in a neater format. The feature which allows the teacher to see the revision history is great for formal assessment as students continue to work. I also appreciate that several rubric which were provided by Mrs. Kennett.
    Taking this one step farther, I plan to use the iBooks to archive student PDFs and the collection of rubrics (from the October 7, 2012 entry). As an added bonus, I could post the iBooks for parents to review the work.
    I love the idea of using Google Docs to create a spreadsheet to pick students for group roles!
    Does anyone else have other suggestions for using Google Docs in an innovative and effective way?

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