That Red Ink Pen

I love using technology in my classroom.  When I first considered using it, my thought was, oh the trees I would save because I wouldn’t have 7,000 worksheets/papers/notebooks, etc. to plow through.  I can do quizzes and tests online and give alternate assessments that won’t require filling out pieces of paper.   No more “bleeding papers” for the kids.  It would be great! It has been better than great.

We’re in the midst of our Space Exploration Vehicle Project and there are (heaven forbid) worksheets!  I will be going around the class looking at the sheets, giving comments and grading them.  I’ll need my red ink pen.

One problem.  I can’t find my red ink pens.

I frantically looked through my pencil box for one.  I looked in my desk, my computer bag, my purse, the junk drawer at my lab bench, EVERYWHERE!  I have no red ink pens! I’m not sure how I feel about this.

There is a part of me that likes the fact that I have found new ways to assess my students understanding of the material that doesn’t involved them groaning at all the red marks that might end up on their papers.  Yet, somehow, I miss it. I miss my red ink pen, quiet music playing and a desk covered with stacks of papers waiting to be graded.

I’ll have to borrow a red ink pen from someone today.


How do you assess students and do you still use the dreaded red ink pen?

6 Replies to “That Red Ink Pen”

    1. Jaap… I was making fun of my decreasing use of my pen, period. I do alternative assessments, and rarely have to pull that old pen out at all!


  1. I love color and often use green and purple just to get kids to see that I have looked at their work. Years and years ago I received a threatening response from an irate parent about my use of “red” on a quick note that I sent home with a child. I was in a hurry, the internet and email didn’t exist. A red pen must have triggered bad memories for this individual. I have never used a red pen to comment or write a quick note to anyone.

    I’ve noticed that students and parents are still struggling to wrap their heads around the concept that assessment can occur using non-traditional methods. I wonder if an entire “system” approach started in kindergarten will do the trick? One can only hope!


    1. I once had a teacher tell me she never uses red because it does seem to upset the children to see it. I still use it because, well, red is my favorite color!


  2. I’ve always liked a pencil for writing on children’s writing, it somehow seems less abrupt and judgmental to me than a red pen.

    Have you tried using two different coloured highlighters as well? One for positives (e.g. pink) and the other for targets for improvement (e.g. green).


    1. I’ve chosen not to use one at all.. except to put check marks on papers to acknowledge that I looked at them. Most of my assessments are digital now, or done alterantively.


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