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Friday, 28 April 2017

Make Report Writing as Easy as Pie!

I am in my 7th of teaching and I can honestly say I no longer fear reporting time! I use to dread it like the plague and spent way more time than I should stressing over it.
Over time I have found secrets to making it easier and I am going to share them all with you today. Some of them you may like and some of them you might not but I swear by them!

Tip Number 1: Start thinking about them early on! Don't be a person who puts them off to the last minute, starting now will ensure you get them done with minimal stress.

Tip Number 2: Find your motivator! I am a competitive person by heart so I compete with others at my school to be the first (or one of the first) to get their reports in. Perhaps you could find another teacher to work through reports with supporting each other and talking it through. Maybe think of rewards you can give yourself when the reports are completed or a reward for each section of report writing. Maybe that new handbag you've been eyeing off?

Tip Number 3: Work to a schedule! Spend a little while sitting down and planning out when you want to complete various sections. I start off with finding out the due date and write down each week prior to that.
Work out an order that helps you finish earlier and easier. For example I start off with what I consider to be the easiest part of report writing- the attitudes, behaviours and efforts which I complete in a checker box and colour code for ease of transferring the information later. Click here for a FREE download of this editable file. Starting with the easiest thing helps me get started and that's often the hardest part! Once complete it makes me feel like i've already accomplished something. Then I move onto the hardest or most consuming part which I find to be the general comments. Then I sandwich everything else in.

Tip Number 4: Plan out activities and assessments throughout the year that can be used to grade students. When you mark them assign them a grade and record it. This will help you get a sense of where your students are at and help confirm the grade you end up giving them. Remember what it was like in uni when you had all your assessments due at the same time? Don't do that to your students.

Tip Number 5: Make writing comments easier by only taking home one or two assessment pieces for each subject you write comments for. Picking a solid assessment piece that shows exactly what a student can and cannot do means you can simple pick out a few examples of each and write them down. Obviously you want your comments to be valid and taking that from one question would be wrong so make sure the assessment gives a few opportunities to prove if that can do a skills.
For maths I use these Mathematics Tests that you can get for each year level or strand. They are great because of the checklist on the front that shows you the Australian Curriculum outcomes and how students have achieved against them.

For reading I do running records and for writing I use a sample of a recount from their diary writing and a sample of the text type we have been studying. For speaking and listening I use a checklist that I fill out during observations. Trust your gut when deciding if the samples are accurate reflections of the student's ability. If it is not a true example go back to previous work and find a more representative sample.  Again, I use these assessments to assist me write the comments but I pull from a range of assessments to determine their grade.

Tip Number 6: I am sure you are forever hearing the phrase 'don't reinvent the wheel' when teaching. Well, don't! No one says you have to write every comment from the top of head. Get out last years reports and copy and paste relevant comments. When I do general comments I read through last years general comments and any sentences I read that make me think of a particular student from the current year I copy over.

Tip Number 7: Complete you comments in a simple word document. Here is a FREE copy of what I do mine in. This allows me to read across a student's comments to make sure they all align and I don't have to worry about signing into the portal to add them (or worry about it crashing and losing everything- I've heard of this happening!). It also makes it easier to proof read- especially by other people. When they are all done simple copy them over! Across the top row I keep a track of how many comments I have completely finished and a record of the word count I am aiming for. I choose certain colours to highlight the comments in when they are first roughly completely, when I have proofread them, when another person has proofread them and when they have been uploaded.

Tip Number 8: Make use of Portfolios! This is the word I use for the files that I store all the students major assessments in. They are easy to transport home and not as cumbersome as taking home umpteen scrapbooks and exercise books. They become a snap shop of you students are great to pull out for parent meetings! I even use them to show the students how far they have come!

Tip Number 9: Don't over think things! You need to trust your gut. I find this especially useful when filling out the ABEs. Your first instinct is usually correct, its usually when you over think things that time is wasted and you get stressed!

Tip Number 10: Know where to get help! Most states have samples of each grade online and many have banks of comments you can pull from. Other teachers are usually happy to moderate with you because it helps them just as much as you.

Here is my schedule for doing reports this year: 

Term 2
Week 1- revise work from term 1 to get students brain juices flowing (assessing here would not produce accurate results)
Week 2- Start major assessments (I start PM bench marks first as these take a lot of time to complete)
               Complete Attitude, Behaviour and Efforts (I find starting with the easiest thing gets me into the reporting mind set and starting is always the hardest part)
Week 3 - Maths assessments (I write my maths comments first so it makes sense to do the maths assessment first)
               Begin writing general comments (I go to them next because you don't need assessments to write them. I also find them the hardest and most time consuming. More tips to come soon on making these easier to write)
Week 4 - Writing assessments
                Finish writing general comments (Allowing more then one week to write comments cuts you some slack if you have a busy week or just can't get into the frame of mind)
                Start writing maths comments
Week 5 - Finish writing maths comments
                Start English comments (I leave English to last as I find it is the subject students can change most in within a few weeks so leaving them to last makes them more accurate)
Week 6- Finish English comments
               Enter grades onto reporting system including effort
Week 7- Buffer week for anything not yet finished. Check everything is still accurate.
               Reports due at end of week

While this is my schedule I often complete somethings more quickly and then bring up the schedule. I usually have my reports finished by week 5. Due to finishing this early I usually go back and have one more glance over them before they are printed to ensure all my comments and grades still accurately reflect the student.

Best of luck with your reports this term! Let me know in the comments if you have any tips of your own.

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  1. Hello I was unable to download your assessment rubric for reports.


  2. Hello I was unable to download your assessment rubric for reports.


    1. So sorry about that Maria. If you would please try again it should be working again now :-)