Do you find yourself dreading grading math? Hating that you have to discuss missed problems with your child? If so, you’re not alone.
But I want to share a different perspective on grading math and show you how online grading offers you the ability to COACH and ENCOURAGE your child, not just correct their work.
Using online grading in this way can actually help you connect with your child and improve your relationship. Instead of leaving them discouraged, they walk away knowing they have an ally in their math education! We’ll look at:
If you grew up in the traditional school system, this might take a bit of a mindset shift. It can be uncomfortable to discuss problems your child is having. Things they don’t understand. Times they feel inadequate.
But Online Grading frees up your time and energy to really connect with your child. You’re still fresh and so you have energy to troubleshoot problems and find out what your child needs to understand the concept. They get much-needed help, and they see you as their helper, not just someone who marks up their papers with a red pen.
First, let’s just make sure we are clear on how Online Grading works. Online grading is the automated system we use to measure if the student is getting the right answers in their Saxon math textbook.
The student works out the answer to problem 1 and enters it into the system. Of course, I always recommend that your student use a spiral notebook to work out the problems. That way they have a copy of their work to review if they have an incorrect answer.
If the answer is correct, the system moves on to the next question.
If the problem is incorrect, the student can get up to 5 more retries (amount determined by you.)
To correct the problem, the student can click on the lesson link provided that will take them back to the original lesson where the concept was taught. They can also check the written lesson, too. And Premium Nicole the Math Lady members also have access to the One Minute Tutorials.
Once the student completes the practice set or test, you, the parent/teacher receive a detailed email that shows the number correct, incorrect and number of retries taken by the student.
You can also decide if students do all problems, odd problems, even problems or switch between odds and even problems with each lesson.
One of the things many parents love about Online Grading is that it’s a neutral source of critique. It’s not the same person who has to teach them table manners and sentence-diagramming also pointing out their problems with math. Just that small reprieve from being the bearer of bad news can start the discussion on much better footing.
Online grading also saves time for coaching. Because the online grading system incorporates the grading into the schoolwork, you aren’t using 15, 20, or 30 minutes up checking scores against the solutions manual. You can take care of other chores or teaching and circle back just to make corrections.
Online grading allows you to walk the child through missed steps. Because all you know are the problem numbers your child missed, you can use the solutions manual to start at the beginning of the problem and see where they went wrong in the process–but more on that later.
Okay, here’s where you can come in and really help your child. Remember, the computer has already told your child what they got wrong. You’ll get the email, and that’s when you grab your solutions manual. It’s time to put on your coaching hat and meet with your child.
With each problem, ask them first if they know what they did wrong. Look at the problem and compare the answer to what they got (but don’t say anything yet).
Now, if they don’t know what they did wrong, or even if they did, have them read the problem and write it down on a fresh sheet of paper. Ask them what they need to do next. Compare that with the solutions manual. Or ask them if they might be better off to do (whatever happens in the next step that is correct).
The point of the activity is this: Use questions–not instructions– to guide them to the right answer. Encourage them as they come to correct conclusions. Ask them if there’s a better way if they are headed down the wrong path.
This doesn’t always go perfectly well. Sometimes bad moods, time constraints, and distractions can test the process. But with some patience and consistency on your part, your child will start to see you as their helper in understanding!
First, try to set up a regular time to do this. That way there’s no dread for your child when they hear you say it’s time to talk math. It’s just something you do. You can call it your Math Meeting or Math Coaching time–something positive.
Next, start with what they did right. Tell them first how many they got correct, and if you noticed they didn’t need as many tries (or whatever other improvement you can see). If it clearly wasn’t a good day, then you can ask if there was something going on. If your child is stressed out about something else and it’s showing in their math, then your coaching time is a great way to learn about that!
Other feedback you can give is the encouragement they need as they work through each step of the process. Remember–they’ve already spent time on this work today. They probably don’t want to go back over it. So it’s perfectly okay to tell them “That looks better,” “You’re on the right track,” or “That’s closer” as you move along.
As you notice them struggling with certain concepts, you can also point out patterns they may not see. That’s helpful! Encourage them to go back to the lesson they need to reinforce.
And sometimes, more than words–kids just want company. Don’t leave the table as they re-work a problem. Sit with them while they re-watch a lesson, or even read the lesson in the book aloud with them. Just knowing that you’re there with them and for them can be a powerful way to connect with them. They want to know that you have their back–and when you approach correction from a coaching stance, they will!
Have questions about Online Grading? You can find an entire list of frequently asked questions about it here.
In conclusion, I encourage you to embrace online grading for what it looks like on the surface (a time-saving way to encourage independence in your kids) but also for everything it can be when you dig deeper. Online grading can be a great way to:
Connect with your child
Coach your child through problems
Troubleshoot what their weak points in math are
Shore up their foundational math skills
Find out where else they may be struggling on any given day
Reassure your child that they have an ally in their schooling–you!
Do you have ways online grading has helped with more than just math? I’d love to hear it in the comments below!
Talk to you soon,
Nicole the Math Lady
We have been using Nicole the Math lady for years, but this year we added the online grading option. It has worked wonders in my 13 yr old son’s math grades. He went from missing 7 or more problems on his daily work to getting 100% right some days. I think, because he gets immediate feedback, he is more motivated to work the problems carefully. Also, he doesn’t have to wait until later in the day or week for me to grade his work. I wish I had started the online grading earlier! Thank you, Nicole!
I’m doing the happy dance over here. There’s just something about that immediate feedback that makes them put a little more intensity into their work. They really want to get it right! Happy it’s working for him.
Is there a video that shows how the more complex answers for the Algebra levels are entered online? The demo provided on your site only shows basic math answers. I’d like to see how more complex answers are entered online with equations, exponents, negative exponents, etc. Even just a screenshot of a few types of problems would be helpful. Thanks.
Hi Karen. Thanks for the question. At the moment, we handle more higher level things like exponents by using multiple choice questions. We are currently working on the next version of the system which will give students a panel to click if they need an exponent and the exponent will be placed in the appropriate spot on the page. Hope that helps.