Grading with the iPad

by Dr. Janet Johnson on May 7, 2011

Since I bought an iPad 2, I wanted to figure out how to grade papers on it. At first, I was hesitant until I found three apps that work for me.

First, I discovered Gradebook Pro. Gradebook Pro allows you to input students names, grades and emails. It’s a great app to keep track of grades and even attendance. I usually use the app Attendance, but will switch to Gradebook Pro’s attendance function to keep everything all in one application. What I love about this app is the ease of emailing students as a group or individually. I also like the grade interface.

Second, I found a great PDF annotator called iAnnotate. It works well with Dropbox. I can download the pdf and if the document is not in a pdf, iAnnotate will convert the file in most cases. I then write comments, underline, strikeout, highlight much easier than I did in Word. iAnnotate allows you to flatten the document and email the document from the program. What’s really cool about iAnnotate is the stamp function. I now have stamps that say, Avoid, Awkward, Avoid Passive Voice, Comma, Spelling, Improper MLA format, etc. I just select where I want to put the comment and move on to the next comment. It really has allowed me to focus more on content rather than trying to copy edit every single item in their paper. Instead, I now have a handy app that lets me make extensive comments quickly.

Third, I downloaded Essay Grader to my iPad. This app has saved me a lot of time. The app lets you praise students and tell students their problem areas. The app allows you to select the areas of improvement in the essay and creates a nicely written email. You can customize all you want, which is nice! I customize as I go. The app allows you to write openining statements and closing statments to the email. I usually start with “Here are the comments to your paper”. Then end with “Overall, your paper needs…” Now, I’m getting emails from students thanking me for the detailed comments to their paper. I have time to express my comments to student papers without feeling as if I’m repeating myself or forgetting an item. I just check mark the item needing attention such as “quality of sources” or “language” or “Sharpen thesis.” The comment then appears in the email. The app lets you email the student from the application. This app has cut down on my comment time tremendously.


Of course, not all the apps are perfect. I would change many things to each one. For example, I do not like how Essay Grader takes away the student I am trying to make comments to while I toggle back and forth between apps. Essay grader should allow me toggle back and forth from app to app without forcing me to reopen a student’s comment sheet each time I stray. I would also like the app to allow me to create customized rubrics to add to the email.

I will continue to grade essays from my iPad. It’s a quick way to sit in a comfy chair, bed, or couch, and read a paper more naturally. I love how the iPad saves me space and time. No papers to lug around and no laptop. My iPad lets me do everything I need at once (most of the time) to grade efficiently and comfortably.

Now, if I could get an app that did all three, I would be happy!

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 fernandezc4 May 14, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Great Job on this blog. LOVE IT. Lots of teachers but iPads, love them, but are reluctant on how to use them in the classroom for thier personal use. You answered many teacher questions in this blog.


2 Dr. Janet Johnson May 14, 2011 at 5:31 pm

I love my iPad. A lot of professors would be surprised how easy it is to grade. So much easier than my laptop.


3 Ryan May 25, 2011 at 1:38 am

Thanks for the good info. I was wondering if Essay Grader allows you to download and view the essay from the app, or does the app act more like a grading rubric only?


4 Dr. Janet Johnson May 25, 2011 at 1:58 pm

The app acts like a grading rubric only. But hat it do is combines all the comments into an email. What I do is break down their grade at the end of the email after the details of what was right and wrong. The app lacks the ability to put comments on the paper. I wish it would allow for you to make a traditional rubric, but it is what it is and it still cut down on my comment time.


5 Mme Gyurgyik May 26, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Is there an app that allows to keep track of time spent and apps visited by students so you can have some control but also statistics about your students?


6 Dr. Janet Johnson June 6, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Not that I’m aware of.


7 Mani Subramani November 15, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Thanks a lot for this detailed note, I am really planning to give this a try now.
I have a question about the hardware…how do you write on the ipad? Do you use your finger or do you have a stylus? I would appreciate your advice.


8 Johannah Rodgers April 28, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Thanks so much for this very helpful post!


9 Andra May 24, 2012 at 3:06 am

Thanks! This is exactly the information I was looking for.


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