When grading a 10-point assignment, I have a hard time deciding if the work shown is worth 4, 5, 6, or 7 points. If I like the kid, then I’m giving her a 9. If I’m hungry, then the kids gets a 4. If the kid’s mother gave me a $25 Starbucks gift card, then the kid gets an 8 with a drawn smiley face.

What I end up doing is giving every less-than-complete paper a 1 — yes, ONE — and so far this marking strategy seems to be working.

I want kids to revise their work until it’s flushed with coherent mathematics. A score of only 1 at the top of their paper — along with my comments — ~~motivates them~~ pisses them off so they go back and revise their work. If they need help with the revision, they know where to find me. If the revised work is still not up to par, then the score stays as a 1, and the kid gets to revise it again until the zombies come home. Or when the grading period ends. And while I haven’t kept track of any hard data, nor will this ever be FDA approved, I’m willing to bet that the revision rate has at least doubled.

Grading papers sucks. But grading with a 1 or 10 has alleviated much of the stress. Like I found a cure for my crazies.

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