Pen choice: A conversation while grading

#1:  I definitely prefer carmine to scarlet.  Unfortunately I have two scarlets and only one carmine. The carmine also wears down faster, but it’s so much easier on my hand.  It just kind of flows off.

#2:  Doh.  I use marker.

#1:  I have been known to use crayon.   My favorite are the red rollerball wet ink pens, but they don’t have any in the supply closet.  Just colored pencils.

#2:  I hate fine-point pens.  They are an abomination.  Medium point represent!

#1:  Color?

#2:  Purple.  Some blues.  Some blacks.  Sometimes green.  Occasionally red.

#1:  I like to bleed all over.  It makes the ginormous NO!!!! that much more effective.  Green is kind of like ichor– alien blood all over the paper.

#2:  What is blue? I haz teh bloos?

#1:  You make me so depressed?  Or, I’m too lazy to find a different color pen.  Same with black.

#2:  Purple?

#1:  Bruises.  For our broken souls.

What is your grading implement of choice and why?  Justify your answer in a short paragraph.  (Or you know, a sentence fragment… whichever is easier for us to grade!*)

*Disclaimer:  We will not actually be grading your work.  *shudder*

18 Responses to “Pen choice: A conversation while grading”

  1. WorstProfEver Says:

    Green rollerball pen. When asked, would claim it was less harrowing for students. In reality, just liked green better.

  2. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    I had a professor who said the same thing… that she’d been to some teaching seminar that said to use green because it was so much less threatening than red. She was a mean, evil, inconsistent (also sexist) lady, so that just caused us all to associate the green pen color with unhappiness (me, I dropped her class straight away, but she caused panic attacks and the need for therapy in two of my female friends on separate occasions for separate classes).

    Red, of course, is associated with the phrases, “Excellent!” “Well put!” “Brilliant!” “I will have to use this idea in my next publication” etc. because we at Grumpy Rumblings were such amazing students.

  3. First Gen American Says:

    Your green pen story (the evil professor), I don’t know why but I suddenly got the wicked witch of the west imagery from wizard of oz in my head. I picture the flying monkeys as her TA’s. I’m in a weird mood today.

  4. Vodalus Says:

    Purple ballpoint.

    Ballpoint: puts a nice, clear, non-smudgy line on the page. Also feels very emphatic and final when writing “NO” or “Excellent!”

    Purple: I like purple. I looks pretty.

    Final tally is written in a liquid-ink rollerball number in either dark green or bright pink. I think that makes it easy to find, particularly since I write all sorts of other numbers all over the page. (I mostly grade lab reports. They are quantitative.)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I am currently final tallying in carmine, since the one pencil I had wore down quickly and most of the grading (after the first couple of problems) was done in scarlet. 5 more exams to tally, then final grades and entering… then on to the next class *sigh*.

  5. Everyday Tips Says:

    But I love the fine point pen. I love signing my name with one. I absolutely love stationary products. (Or is it stationery? I always confuse the two.)

    One of my pet peeves in life is those ball point pens that collect blobs at the end. Then they come off at some point and you get a giant smear on the outside of your hand and the paper is a mess.

    I love pens…

  6. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    I think it’s with the e.

    One class down… one to go! I’m out of carmine and back to scarlet.

  7. frugalscholar Says:

    A favorite comment on a student evaluation: “The teacher’s comments were very helpful, though personally I did not read them.”

    Very few students ever pick up final work–even papers.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:


      Though since I’m teaching about 2/3 of these folks next semester in the continuation class, I’ll be sticking their final exams in their boxes over break and we’ll be going over exactly what they did wrong the first week of class. They darn well better learn that you can’t take the regression of color or religion or any unranked categorical variable. (Not that we didn’t go over that in class a million times this past semester, but maybe the giant red NO will help it sink in.)

      • Alexicographer Says:

        Well, if you can group them in two categories and know what you’re doing, you can approximate doing so :) .

        But, right. I was going to say, I don’t comment (much) on final papers exams at all, then go back and fill in as needed for the 3% of students who ask me for their work back. But I guess that otherwise pleasing strategy wouldn’t work here.

  8. Rumpus Says:

    I use whatever is handy…so various colors of regular pens, red gel-inks, and my favorite fountain pen with whatever color it’s currently holding (often some blend of Noodler’s inks). I try not to use a regular black ink pen, though, because some of my students work in black ink. I can’t imagine why…I’ve worked problems in ink and it makes no sense unless you need a permanent record of everything including the mistakes.

  9. bardiac Says:

    Pencil, so I can erase if I need to. I use mechanical pencils because it’s easier than going to a sharpener with a whole box of pencils every half hour.

  10. HennaHonu Says:

    I’m with WorstProfEver, but also like it to be fine. Fine lines seem to make my handwriting more readable.

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