On one of the teaching forums I visit, we've been discussing tricks we use to cope with piles and piles of papers that our students complete and then wonder, "How did I do?" And while I did a blog last year on the pros and cons of grading homework vs. checking homework and having students correct it, I just had to share this top tip.
First of all, understand that my fourth graders just can't help themselves. When I have them correct each other's papers they constantly look over at their own paper to see if they got things right or wrong, and want to debate about every point (and several neglect the paper they are supposed to correct since they are so busy monitoring their own). And yes, there is a time and place for discussing that sort of thing, but with this particular weekly assignment (reading responses in paragraph form) it was turning into a real time-suck.
So a couple weeks ago I grabbed the papers from each kid's desk and then randomly handed them to a different kid on the other side of the classroom. The first time I told them, "I've given you the WRONG paper back to correct." I told them to keep it a secret. Of course that was so that they wouldn't be able to look at their own paper and they could focus on the one in front of them. And even though they soon figured out my ploy and that the secret wasn't a fun mystery, it's been working better than trading with someone at their own group. They even sort of look forward to finding out who had them after. In fact today one of them said to me, "Are we doing the mystery person correcting again?" I said yes and he said, "Woo hoo, it's like Secret Santa. But with papers!"