Artwork Evaluation Timer Savers, for elementary teachers (+ FREE STUDENT CHECKLIST)
I was browsing through a Facebook group the other day when I came across a post where an art teacher was asking for help when it comes to marking student artwork. And that got me thinking (again), God, do I ever hate evaluating artwork!
Now, it’s important to note that I might hate grading (and all that it stands for)… however, I do think that my grading methods and systems work well, for both my students and me.
That is to say, thanks to a few adjustments and tweaks I’ve made over the last 12 years, grading artwork has never been easier and faster!
Mind you, I still don’t return artwork as quickly as I would like. Keep in mind that all my student artwork is kept in my office in a filing cabinet. And because I teach “off a cart” and move from room to room every hour, returning artwork is often the last thing that crosses my mind when I’m prepping my cart for my next group(s).
Now, I’m not saying you should use all my systems and methods when it comes to evaluating. I do happen to teach off a cart (which is not often the case), and you might have an art room. OR, you might not teach art at all. However, I am hopeful that you will benefit from some of these quick tips and tricks that I have learned over the years regardless of your current teaching situation.
With that said, here are my Top 6 Artwork Evaluation Time Savers for grading artwork more quickly and more efficiently:
Tip #6: Stop grading everything!
That’s right, you shouldn’t have to grade everything that hits your desk. Can you honestly name a colleague you know that marks every worksheet, activity, project, etc. that hits their desk? Because if you can, I guarantee you that teacher is setting themselves up for a burnout. Besides, logistically speaking, we only have so many hours in our work week dedicated to professional tasks outside of our teaching time. And, I’m a strong advocate of leaving schoolwork at school and completely against bringing schoolwork home, period.
Tip #5: Use mobile student folders with student checklists.
I have two parallel systems that I use to collect grades. One is a student checklist that is taped inside all of my class folders, and the second is an Excel spreadsheet. I use a simple student checklist to keep track of absences, teacher assistance, incomplete artwork, etc. I also use this student checklist to record grades. This is especially useful when I have time to sit down and evaluate artwork while my quieter older groups work quietly because it means I can easier catch up on my grading.
Tip #4: Evaluate artwork as students finish them.
I sometimes walk around the room and jot down preliminary grades as students are working. I usually do this when there are about 15-30 minutes left of class. As students hand in their artwork, I will then adjust their grades accordingly. Also, because students finish their projects at their own rhythm, I’m easily able to write down their marks as they hand in artwork before the bell rings, so long as it doesn’t overlap with clean-up time obviously.
Tip #3: Make piles according to where they fall along your grading standards.
Because my school board uses a pretty generic rubric across all subject areas, I know exactly which grade represents what according to our standards. Therefore, if I need to mark quickly because it’s crunch time, I will sort artwork into piles according to their grade, and then at the end jot down all the 5s, 4s, 3s, etc. in my mark book. FYI: students rarely get below a 3 in Art (which represents a 65%).
*Note: Our grading system is much more complicated than 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s, but for the sake of this example, I’ll just leave it at that.
Tip #2: Only grade the successes.
That’s right. Reiterating what I said before, don’t grade everything! Don’t put so much time and effort into grading all those technical assignments, worksheets, and worse yet “Pinterest fails”. Heck, don’t even bother with evaluating those one-off art projects. Just grade the artworks and projects that were overall successes with your students. You know, those art projects everyone loved this term! Also, it’ll help keep your mind at ease, because usually, it’s those artworks that showcased their best work, and should be counted towards their final grade.
Tip #5: Grade anonymously.
If there’s anything you should take away from this blog post, let it be this! I loooove grading artwork anonymously because it has allowed me to grade so much quicker. It’s also allowed me to avoid student biases, which is so important in art. The key to making this work, though, is drilling it into students early on that their names must ALWAYS be written on the back of their artwork. Thanks to anonymity, I can collect student artwork, quickly assess where it falls along my evaluation rubric, and assign it a grade. It’s only when I go to mark their grade on the back of the artwork that I’ll finally see who created it.
Have you been looking for a simple and straightforward visual arts rubric that you can use to evaluate any art project?
If so, then be sure to check out my Visual Arts Rubrics & Checklists for Elementary Art, which includes rubrics for both teacher and students (self-assessment), in addition to evaluation checklists for both teacher and students!
As you can see, I love using emojis within my rubrics so that students can really see how they did or how they “performed” according to the project expectations and what was required of them.
However, when I don’t want to use my standard emoji evaluation rubric, I opt for a checklist. As you can see above, this resource includes student self-assessments using “I” phrases. When students go to complete their self-assessment and read through the “I” phrases, they are required to think critically about their artistic process, and reflect on the choices they made throughout.
For example: Did they follow directions? Did they use their time effectively? Did they meet the expectations of the artwork? Did they utilize the art techniques they were taught? Did they incorporate the elements of art and/principles of design that that were required of them?
Do you get my gist? I like to think that by using these sentences and focusing on the art vocabulary, that puts the onus on the student and in turn puts less pressure on me as their teacher.