Do you love interactive notebooks but struggle to grade them? In this post I want to share a super simple plan and Excel check sheet for grading INBs that worked really well in my math classroom.

Even with my smaller classes, my pile of papers to grade was a constant. By the time I finished scheduling IEP meetings, writing IEPs, updating teachers on progress, planning my lessons and teaching (imagine that!), I had no more steam left to grade the papers on my desk. The struggle is real! Kids need feedback. We all do. But that clock is always ticking....

I loved using interactive notebooks in my Consumer Math class (someday I will compile all of our lessons, but for now here is a post on some of our financial literacy activities), but grading them was initially pretty overwhelming.

Should I grade everything? How could I possibly do this? What message would it send if I didn't grade their notebooks? How could I make this process as easy as possible?

My students could use their notebooks on all of our quizzes and exams, which was a good incentive for them to keep them organized and complete. But I needed to build in a bigger, more concrete incentive.

After a lot of trial and error, I decided on this notebook check sheet. It is a super simple Excel file.

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__How I use this check sheet to grade our interactive notebooks:__

**1: First of all, I do not grade everything.**

This works well for 2 reasons: it keeps kids on their toes not knowing which assignments will "count" and it cuts down considerably on the time it takes me to grade a notebook.

**2: Each assignment is not the same difficulty.**

Some assignments on the check sheet are basically freebies. Did they complete an INB notes cutout that we did together in class or did they glue in XYZ reference? Other assignments on the sheet would have taken more time to complete as independent work. I try to vary the pieces that I check because all of the parts are important for different reasons.

**3: I give the notebook check sheets out on a Monday.**

This allows students to catch up on any assignments on the list they have missing. I feel that a week is fair warning! And if any student needs help on an assignment, they have all week to come to me for help.

*Pro tip:*There are always a few students who will check every box in the left column, as if I'd fall for it (then act surprised when I don't! :)

**4: I collect notebooks on a Friday.**

Students put their notebooks on my desk after class and I try to get the notebooks back to my students the next time I see them.

**5: Notebook checks are worth 100 points.**

This worked well for me because I always put 10 assignments on the check sheet.

**6: I'd give 8 notebook checks per year.**

I'd aim for 2 checks per term, which ended up working really well.

What I loved most about interactive notebooks was the pride my students took in them. In all my years using INBs never once did one of my students lose a notebook. After putting in so much work to make their notebooks their own, the feeling of ownership was strong.

>> Download the free notebook check sheet here

*More posts:*
Thank you for sharing this! I am looking for ways to streamline the grading. Can you please clarify what you choose for the check? For example, if I had 15 things in my notebook, I would choose 10 of them to check? Do you expect all 15 things to be in the notebook? Thanks for clarifying!

ReplyDeleteThank you for asking this. If there had, for example, been 15 assignments since the last check, I would just choose 10 random assignments (I usually chose the ones I felt were most important) since the last check and only put those on the current check sheet. I would hope that all 15 would be in there, but I would only officially check the 10. My students could use their notebooks on tests and quizzes, so it benefited them to have everything, but kids are kids:)

DeleteThe check sheet would then be glued into the notebook after the 10 assignments, which helped me with a starting point for the next notebook check. This way I wasn't flipping through the whole notebook for each check.

I hope this makes sense! Please let me know if I can clarify or answer any more questions. Streamlining grading to make room for planning and teaching is always a good thing! :)

I am very inspired after reading your post that mentioned you were working on IEPs and the meetings that go along with them! I began as a SPED teacher for three years and then couldn't turn down the opportunity to teach Precalc, which required me to go to general education. This next school year, I am returning to SPED to teach Geometry (got your word wall to get me started). I am so excited that you are also a special education teacher. Look at all the amazing things you have done and not only helping your students, but you are out here helping us and our students too! Thank you so much.

ReplyDeleteThe paperwork gets SO overwhelming, but the kids in Special Education are the absolute best. I love working with kids who need extra help and extra convincing! I'm so impressed you teach Precalc! I have a Precalc gap in my own education that I hope to fill in someday with a refresher course (refresher from high school, that is. It's been a while!). Thank you for your kind words and taking the time to leave a comment. Are you in the Visual Math Facebook group? There are lots of super helpful teachers in there who start great conversations about ways to reach kids. I hope you have had a great year and that you have the most relaxing summer!

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