May 10 Day 63: A Grading Travelogue

It’s the weekend and that means serious grading. Today’s task: the Matrix Theory midterm that I gave on Thursday. Twenty four students, six pages each. I vowed to grade each page in a different location.

Before I begin, a kudos to my technology. I downloaded the exams to a folder in my iCloud and can mark them up on my iPad with the apple pencil, swiping between students. It makes electronic grading page-by-page pretty effortless. The downside is that I try to grade blind to minimize the biases that I bring into the process. Canvas associates students’ names to the file, so I if I am not extra careful, I will know whose exam I am looking at.

Location 1 Page 1: My bedroom

I graded the first page in bed while awaiting a waffle, eggs, and bacon breakfast made by my sons. It is Mother’s Day after all. (I have no picture to share). But page 1 was completed before breakfast arrived.

Location 2 Page 2: The front porch

While the calendar says spring, the weather is screaming summer. With bright blue skies and 82 degrees (apologies to those of you experiencing snow this morning), I wanted to get outside. But the sun was so bright, I had to stay in the shade. I have taken a new pleasure in our front porch. It is always in shade and allows me to interact with friends and neighbors from a distance. The breeze was delightful. However, we are going to need more comfortable furniture than folding soccer-mom chairs if this is going to become a regular spot.

Location 3 Pages 2-3: Side yard.

In search of more comfortable furniture, I found the table and chairs on the deck outside the kitchen were still in shade. I had the company of a pitcher plant, Sarracenia, that I purchased a few years ago at a farmers market in Oregon (and promptly ignored). In previous years it has put out a single flower in the spring as it returns to life. Look closely and you will see four flower spikes developing this year.

Location 4 Page 4: The family room

The sun became too bright so I retreated temporarily to the couch in the family room. It is my go-to grading place when I crave indoor variety. With a David C. Roy Wood That Works Radiance sculpture, it can be calming and zen.

Location 5 Page 5: By the pond

By afternoon, the garage provided shade to the table and chairs by our koi pond. I love the sound of falling water. I found myself getting distracted as the fish splashed about but I managed to finish page 5 before the battery icon on my iPad called for more power.

Location 6 Page 6: The home office.

I returned to the home office where I spend the majority of my days teaching, planning, writing, and zooming because I, well my iPad, needed to recharge. I have one page to go and I will accomplish this task today…after dinner maybe…or a walk..or after I finish this post. I can do it, I’m sure.

Published by Jenny Quinn

Mathematician. Mother. Wife. Leader. I am a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington Tacoma. Mother of Anson and Zachary. Wife to Mark. President of the Mathematical Association of America.

3 thoughts on “May 10 Day 63: A Grading Travelogue

  1. Hey Dr. Q! I’m really curious about your workflow. I’d love to find a way to digitally assign, collect, grade and return papers to my middle school math and science students.


    1. My institution uses the Canvas course management system that provides most of the needed resources. I create assignments and students upload solutions (one pdf often created from pictures with their phone —CamScanner, tinyscanner, notes, even Google Docs work). I download submissions as a single zip file to iCloud, unzip them into their own folder, and annotate with Markup. Then I zip the files back up and upload back to Canvas which thankfully takes care of attaching the annotated version to the comments of their assignment (unless its a “quiz” type in which case I have to do it hand but that is a small complaint.)

      Over the years, I have used BlackBoard, Moodle, UW’s own Catalyst, and now Canvas. I was thinking about how Google Drive might work in this situation and came across Google Classroom. I am not familiar with it but it might serve the same role without investing in a fancy CMS. (See Alice Keeler’s post,


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