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I think it’s safe to say that teachers do not like writing report cards. In fact, I generally consider it one of the most stressful parts of my job, but using a report comment bank will save you time and make the process less stressful! But how? We’re going to look at exactly how to build a bank of general comments for report cards that will serve as a framework for meaningful, personalized report cards.
Table of Contents
What is a comment bank?
A comment bank for report cards is a collection of pre-written comments that can be easily customized to suit the needs of each individual student. This means that you don’t have to start from scratch every time you write a report card, saving you precious time and energy.
Why should you use a comment bank for report cards?
One of the best benefits of using a report card comment bank is that it helps you write better comments. When you have a variety of comments to choose from, you are more likely to provide detailed and accurate feedback that reflects the student’s performance. You can also avoid repetitive or generic comments that don’t add any value to the report card.
Another advantage of using a teacher report comment bank is that it helps you stay organized. Instead of scrambling to find the right words to describe a student’s performance, you can quickly search through the comment bank to find the appropriate comment. This not only saves you time, but it also ensures that you are consistent in your feedback across all students.
For me, the best part of having a report card comment bank is that it saves time and reduces stress. It provides me with a framework to use that I know is high quality and meets my school’s requirements. Instead of staring at a blank screen I can scroll through my comment bank and find the perfect comment, or tweak one that is pretty close.
How To Create a Report Comment Bank
Here are some tips and strategies on how to set up and organize a teacher comment bank:
1. Set up your file
You can really use the program that suits you best but I would recommend using something in the cloud so it can be accessed from anywhere. Google Docs or Google Sheets are great options.
With Google Docs, use a table for each new comment with a heading that describes the subject, strand and topic of the comment. Then use the Table of Contents to quickly and easily find exactly the comment you need.
With Google Sheets, use the columns to organize comments. Across the top of the sheet, write headings for subject/topic and each of the four levels you will need for each comment.
2. Create your framework
Create your list of headings (Subject and Strands) for each term. Create a template comment layout whether it is a table or spreadsheet. Each comment needs a label or title and space for a comment for each level. In Ontario, that means levels 1-4 (A-D) and maybe a ‘N’ comment if you need it. This can then be copy and pasted as many times as you need.
3. List all the comments you will need
This will depend on your curriculum, preferences and administration’s requirements. For example, for Reading you might need a comment for reading level, a comment for each reading comprehension strategy and a comment for reading journals. You now know exactly what you have and what you need.
It can also give you a starting point for long range plans
4. Write a high-quality ‘grade level’ comment
Begin by writing the comment that is considered ‘grade level’ for your curriculum. In Ontario, this is Level 3 or B. Use the curriculum document but USE PARENT-FRIENDLY LANGUAGE. Each comment needs to include positives, areas for improvement and a next step.
TOP TIP: I like to build my next steps right into my comments. It’s just one less step in getting a finished comment for a student!
5. Use that comment to build out the above and below grade level comments
With that one carefully crafted comment, it is really easy to make small changes to write the level 1, 2 and 4 comments. I will copy and paste the level 3 comment into the level 2 box then change words and phrases as needed. As comments should be focus on what students can do, not what they can’t, this can often look like removing a few pieces.
For example, a level three comment might say, “~Name identifies and explains the character, setting, problem and solution of a fiction text.” For the level two comment, I might remove the ‘problem and solution’ part as that is more challenging. This can also very easily be reworded into the next step.
I am simply not including it as something they are able to do, rather than specifying that the student has difficulty with that specific skill. Do you see the difference?
6. Include spaces for specific examples
Report card comments should be personalized and detailed to really be informative and meaningful. Write comments with specific projects, books or activities in mind. Include these in the comments to ensure that they will give evidence of student achievement. Highlight or mark in some way so you know to change out the book title or project name specific to each student.
How to Effectively Use Your Report Card Comment Bank
So you’ve got a comment bank but how do you turn that into well-written, individual report cards?
- Input all the grades first.
- Then highlight all the students with the same grade in a strand. For example, all students with an A in reading.
- Depending on the report writing program your school uses, you may be able to copy and paste the appropriate comment into all student comment boxes at once. Otherwise, copy the comment and paste into each box. Repeat for all the other levels.
- Finally, go over each comment to make any tweaks to fit each student.
These days by far I spend more time marking and coming up with the student grades than it takes me to write the actual report cards!
Tips to Maximize the Benefits of a Report Comment Bank
- Keep it updated: As you write new comments, add them to your comment bank. If you fix a typo or make a change, remember to change it in the comment bank too! (Speaking from personal experience, it’s a pain to have to make the same changes again the next report card season…)
- Customize as needed: While using a comment bank can save you time, it’s important to customize your comments to each student’s individual needs and performance. Build these into the comment but be sure to make it obvious so you remember to change it for each student!
- Write a variety of shorter comments: Report card comment boxes seem to be shrinking with each update! Being able to mix and match from a selection of comments, rather than having just one comment for the whole subject, will make it easier to keep comments to the right length. It also helps make your comments more individualized for students too!
- Include name tokens and gender tokens: Report card programs use a little piece of code to insert the student name and gender pronouns throughout comments. Write your comment bank with these tokens so you can easily copy and paste a comment and it will automatically be changed.
- It’s easier to delete than add: Write comments with multiple examples where appropriate. This will allow you to delete the ones that aren’t relevant for a particular student – much quicker than having to craft a new comment on the spot.
- BONUS Add spaces at the end of each comment: Without these spaces, you will find yourself going back through your report cards adding spaces anywhere you added multiply comments into one box. I always add two spaces at the end of each comment so that when they are appended in the repot writing program, they connect seamlessly.
By setting up and organizing a report comment bank, you’ll have a valuable resource that can save you time and help you write better comments.
If you’d like to save even more time, check out our ready-to-use elementary report card comment banks for all grades 1-8. You’ll get a wide variety of comments that cover Ontario and BC curriculum expectations, so you’re sure to find a comment that fits.
To help all teachers, we’ve made them available for individual subjects, or full grade bundles at a big discount! We’ve got learning skills too because we can all agree those are the WORST to write!
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Do you have a report writing comment bank that you use? How do you set it up and make it work for you? Let me know in the comments below!