This past year I used ISNs for the first time. I piloted this in my Civics/Economics class as I hadn’t taught this class since 2004, and I thought it would be easier to try ISNs with a class I didn’t have an established routine in. (I will be rolling them out in all four of my classes this year). However, I will be calling them Smash Books thanks to Eat Write Teach.
Well, my two Civics classes were plugging away, and after the first two weeks, I decided I had better collect the notebooks and check them, so I grabbed my grade sheets for those classes and sat down one Sunday afternoon… six hours later, I was able to leave the school. I knew something had to change because while I loved what the notebooks were doing for my students, I could NOT do this every two weeks to stay on top of grading.
I could not opt out of grading the notebooks because there were basically all the homework/daily work that the students had, but I also wanted to be conscious of not giving them a lot of points for just copying items off the board (input side). I needed something to speed up the process and hopefully help students clearly understand their grades.
I saw this Pinterest Pin (click image for pin) from I Love My Classroom and knew I was headed in the right direction to simplify my life.
The next trip to town resulted in two packages of mailing labels. I bought packages with 30 on a sheet since that worked out to just about how many notebooks I received on any given collection day.
It took a little while to get the formatting correct, to get it all to fit on one label (sometimes I have to get creative with the headings), and to get them to print on the labels right (I am pretty sure that was my school printer and not me). The result was the best thing to ever happen to my grading.
I simply put the items they need to have; Table of Contents is ALWAYS the first item. Next to each item, I list the points they could earn for that item, and in a box on the right, I put the total points. Anything I don’t have to write out saves me precious minutes.
You can see what I mean about the printing issue on this one. I did mine in Word on my work computer. Word has a wonderful feature that allows you to pick the label you bought, type in one label, and fill the rest of them with the click of a button.
When I collected notebooks, I would grab my rubric sheet, grab the first notebook, start at the beginning and flip through to check everything. I should also mention that I gave every student a bright post-it to mark where I put the last rubric before then turned their notebook in, so I could quickly flip to the starting point.
All I have to do is circle the number of points for each item and total.
These little gems saved me hours and hours of time over the course of the year. I went from needing six hours to grade notebooks to less than two (if every student turned them in).
Our district uses 6+1 for our writing rubric. I thought I would create a set for that, and I want you to have them for free. They use Avery 8161 or any 1×4 inch label. You can print it on plain paper and use tape too.
How could you use these little beauties in your class?
Sarah is currently a high school English and social studies teacher in Michigan where she also assists with school improvement and district technology. Her experience spans 12 years, grades 7-12, four schools, and three districts. She is a National Writing Project Teacher Consultant and a Google Certified Educator. Sarah loves spending time with her husband, daughters, and cats. Check her out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She can also be found at Kovescence of the Mind and her Teachers Pay Teachers store.