May 10, 2016

Follow Up: Grading with Highlighters

Early this year I started grading using only two highlighters. (Apparently I never blogged about it but I did tweet it) I had a green highlighter for correct work and a pink highlighter for incorrect work.

Believe it or not I stuck with it the whole year!

The routine I ended up using:
If the whole problem was correct I either highlighted the answer (if it was short) or the question number (if it was a longer response) in green. I sometimes highlighted key words in green to draw attention to the vocabulary/reasoning I was looking for. If the whole problem was blank I highlighted the question number in pink. Otherwise I highlighted the first mistake pink.

Pro: It was easy for kids to see exactly what needed fixing. They copied down the line above the pink, fixed the pink part and then continued from there.

Con: I had one student who was red/green colorblind. She asked her friends to tell her which was which until mid-year when she told me she was colorblind and I went back over hers with pen after that. Next year I will have to ask up front if anyone is colorblind.

Pro: I wrote less. All those helpful notes seem like such a good idea, but they take up a lot of time and the students didn't have to do the thinking to figure out their mistake. Kids can always ask a neighbor who got it right or ask me if they can't figure out their mistake. I did occasionally write something with either a nearby pen or the highlighter since I got thin ones.

Con: I bought a lot of highlighters and only used the pink and green ones. I didn't need a lot, none of them have run out, but I wanted a set in my desk at school, a set in my grading bag and a set at home.

Pro: The kids like it. A student made up a test after school and asked me to grade it. I grabbed whatever pen was in front of me and he said, "No! You have to use the highlighters!"


  1. Love this idea. I'm making tons of happy smiley and sad smiley faces all over each problem to share feedback (what I like and what needs some work). Your method is much more efficient. Silly question - did you have trouble w highlighter bleeding thru to the other side of the page? Thanks for sharing!

    1. Good question! I didn't have that problem but I bet some highlighters would. I used Sharpie smear guard highlighters. I can't find them now, but they're the same size as the retractable ones:

  2. Use blue/yellow or blue/pink instead of red/green and you'll avoid almost all color blindness problems