The Easiest Way For Students to Turn in Artwork

Grading. It’s not at the top of an art teacher’s to-do list. Between managing the art room and creating with students, it often gets pushed to the back burner. Or in reality, pushed to the middle of your desk!

It’s hard to keep up with the ever-growing pile of ungraded artwork, and your backlog can quickly become overwhelming. So, how can you organize the work in a sensible way that allows you to tackle it efficiently?

Try going digital!

student taking photo of work

It’s easier than you think.

While a digital approach may sound daunting, it really couldn’t be simpler. All you need is a way for students to take photos and a Learning Management System to keep yourself organized. Let’s take a look at photographing the work first.

Taking Photos

The first step in digital grading is digitizing the artwork. To do this, simply have your students photograph their work. If your school has a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy, students can use their own devices. If not, a classroom set of even two to four digital cameras or tablets will do the trick.

Make sure to teach students how to photograph their own work. (Otherwise, you won’t be saving yourself much time!) There are some great tips about creating a photo upload station in this article.

Finding an LMS that Works for You

Once your students take the photos, you need to have a way to keep everything organized. That’s where a Learning Management System, or LMS, comes in.

There are lots of options to choose from, and many school districts have adopted an LMS already.

If you’re looking to see what might work best in your classroom, check out these options:

One of the best things about using an LMS to grade is the ability to use a digital rubric. Many LMS platforms allow you to create a rubric you can modify for all your projects. It’s much easier to provide immediate feedback to your students this way.

computer showing LMS

Reaping the Benefits

There are many benefits to having students turn in artwork digitally.

Here are just a few:

  • It drastically reduces grading time.
  • Your art room is less cluttered because there aren’t piles of work sitting everywhere.
  • You can grade from almost anywhere.
  • You have the ability to use a digital rubric to keep things simple and streamlined.

Gone are the days of unhappy students waiting for you to grade so they can take their beloved artwork home. With a digital system, keeping track of work doesn’t have to be a chore. Give it a try to de-clutter your art room and save your sanity. It’s a great first step to helping students grow digital portfolios and track their growth as artists!

How do your students turn in their artwork?

Have you ever tried using an LMS to grade artwork?

Abby is a middle school art teacher in Omaha, NE. She focuses on creating meaningful experiences for her students through technology integration, innovation, and creativity.


  • Kellie Determan

    I’m wondering if any of the LMS systems listed allow or incorporate the grade given (after using the on board rubric) directly into a grade book or spreadsheet? Thank you for the terrific management tool.

    • Christy Adair

      It depends on your gradebook system. Google can upload to skyward, but it’s not a straightforward process.

    • I’ve

      • Lisa Blais

        We use Schoology and RenWeb, and I really hope that the day comes soon that the two will work together.

    • Abby Schukei

      As Andrew said, It does depend on your school district. My school district has adopted the Moodle LMS which links to our district grade book. But there is always the option to download the CSV file, which collects the grades and information added into the LMS, than can then be put into your grade book by hand. Thank for reading!

    • Tracy Mathys

      I use a chrome extension to split screen and transfer my grades by hand… it really is not that terrible, I hope someday they work together but even this way it is so much more efficient than piles!!

    • Catherine Kerch

      Our school uses TADS Educate gradebook and recently announced that they have integrated Google Classroom into their system. We can now use Google Classroom and grades will sync over to the gradebook. I’m very excited to try it this Fall.

  • Sherri Callahan

    I use SeeSaw and it has changed my life! Students are responsible for “turning in” their work digitally…no more on the artwork is no longer a headache! If a student “turned it in” it’s in their digital portfolio. Parents can see their child’s artwork immediately and even if it never makes it home!

    • Lisa Scheuerman Beschnett

      What version of SeeSaw do you use? Free, SeeSaw Plus, or SeeSaw for Schools? I am teaching photography, and my main desires are to allow students to see and give feedback to others, and have the ability to comment on their artwork. Any advice?

      • Lisa Scheuerman Beschnett

        Also, does it have too ‘childish’ of a feel for middle school? thanks for your feedback!!

  • Melissa L

    Going digital with Google classroom was the best decision I’ve made for my own sanity and organization of my classroom. However, this past year I encountered a number of parents who just couldn’t get in the digit train with me and my students. How do you explain to parents the switch to digital grading? Education had changed so much since they were students they often just don’t get it.

    • Abby Schukei

      I advertise it as a way parents can see work and the grade that goes along with it immediately. So often students don’t take work home and this is a way for parents to see it, even keep it in a digital portfolio of their own!

  • Lisa Blais

    I’ve been grading digitally for the last couple of years but I hadn’t thought of having the students take the photos and turn them in; I’ve been shooting the artwork prior to putting stuff on display and then using the images to grade from at home. We use Schoology and that really would further simplify the process as well as put more responsibility on the students (they’re high schoolers).

  • Kerry Adie

    What digital rubrics do you recommend for google classroom?

  • Kim

    I love this idea and see it saving tons of time and space. But. . . there’s always a “but”. yeah? I need to save student work for the Spring Art Show. Any ideas as to how to keep the best work from getting lost forever and still use this system? No problem with students taking photos of their work and grading it, but does anyone have suggestions for deciding along the way what should stay and what should go home?

  • Tracy Mathys

    I won’t stop spouting my love of google classroom in such an annoying way that my district finally sent me to google expert training. I really think it is the best thing I have ever done in my room for student accountability, parent communication, pre and post testing, artist statements, inspiration collection, resource pooling, caption contests, art history challenges, sketch book prompts…. right?!?

    • Suzanne Farr

      Is there a way to organize the assignments in Google Classroom? I always have to move assignments to the top repeatedly to organize them. Also, how do you create a student portfolio in Google Classroom? I agree, I love it for assessments, for posting video’s, for posting Quizlets, for collecting writing assignments, but I am failing to see how I could organize a group of incoming photos from students. How do you?

      • Susan Mitrano

        Following. I used Google Classroom last year and would like to expand next year.

        • Tracy Mathys

          To be honest I do very little of the organizing, I make the students do it. It is their responsibility to drop their images into the correct place! However if you wanted to be the one to move artwork into portfolios after it is turned in you would open the image in a new window, then, click on the 3 dot menu and select organize, then it allows to to drop it in a specific folder that you may or may not be sharing with the student. I have my students add the image to a power point as well for their portfolio, I do the same as Angela and make a blank template & send copies. This is also great because you can comment on the slides and leave feedback and they can drop their artist statement in with their art.
          to organize assignment so students can find them I always add a topic, which is a choice you can find at the bottom of the assignment adding window. All of the topics you have tagged show up in box to the left of the main stream so students can click on the topic and every post you have made and tagged with that topic will appear.
          I am hoping to really push this with my 5th grade this year so that over the 4 years I have them (5-8) they will have a large body of work to look back on !

          whew that was was maybe too much information! feel free to email me if you have any questions or need screenshots! [email protected]

      • Angela Miller

        2nd following for tips…

        I’ve used Google Classroom and we have PowerSchool along with Canvas now…I still like Google Classroom…BUT never thought to have students submit digital examples,
        we’ve made Digital Portfolios in Google Classroom &
        create “assignments” so they can see due dates on the calendar view but still Turn In 2D work to grade.

      • Angela Miller

        You can Create a blank Google Slides Template
        to Share/Send a copy as an Assignment Link for Digital Portfolios.
        (May be another way I missed to use work they’ve already uploaded for assignments)

  • Kinsy McVay

    For my elementary art room, I love using Seesaw to record the students’ work! It is super easy to use (even for Kinder) and allows students to post their work, view other students’ work, add comments, and share with parents. At the end of the year, each student has a digital portfolio that parents can view and save. Teachers can use it to not only review student work, but also share prompts, videos, or websites with the students. A recent upgrade to the site allows direct messaging with connected parents, too. Very cool!

  • Megan Dejo

    Hi Abby, I have enjoyed using Seesaw as a means of a digital portfolio for two years now. Here was the greatest benefit, at the end of the year, each student had their own digital portfolio to show off to their parents as part of their student-led conferences. It was very effective. There is a feature where the students can do an interview with their parents and I can hear/see their questions & responses to their art portfolios. So cool!

    • Suzanne Farr

      Has anyone used Google Classroom as effectively as this description by Megan? I already have Google Classroom set up. However, I just set up a Seesaw and it already seems more streamlined.

      • Megan Dejo

        I will also note that my school decided to purchase this as a learning platform and there may be some features that we now have that allow for further organizing of files (labelling, multiple classes for each student set up, etc.). It is a pretty amazing app. I use it not only as a teacher but as a parent, as my son is entering 3rd grade. I enjoy being able to see his progress and projects throughout the year. :-)

  • Catherine Kerch

    Hi Abby, I love the idea of digital submissions and decluttering the classroom. I usually hold all my students artwork until the end of the year for the Art Show – so, I’m wondering do you still do an art show and how do you get your students’ work back? I’d really like to go completely digital and would opt out of doing a live show for an online show instead. What are your thoughts or has anyone out there done an online show?

    • Tracy Mathys

      I do mostly digital submission and still do a live in person art show (though digital sounds like a very interesting idea!!) In the past I have held all of my artwork anyway. This year I am going to pull the pieces I want to keep and send a CONGRATULATIONS!! note home in place of their artwork…. and send it away as they finish.

  • Tanya Riehle

    I have done it for years! Digital camera has a website/blog they use to turn in their assignments that way they can see everyones else’s photos. (Something that can’t be done with LMS- except Powerschool Learning does wikis I believe) However, they do have to hang up their artwork and do a mini critique before they turn it in- after the critique they can either tweak it or hand it in. We have used schoology for many years- but are transitioning to powerschool learning this year! It saves tons of time grading and I can do it at home!

  • Jan Miller

    Advantages of this include the possibilities of interim critiques, homebound students, projects too big to move, etc. One big disadvantage is cheating by submitting someone else’s artwork as their own. I once had a kid submit a piece of MY artwork to me for his extra credit.

  • Julie Peterson-Shea

    I like to use Artsonia. The students take their own photo, crop it, post it and then are prompted ( I have questions already set up) to tell me what they learned, what they liked and what they need to work on. In some cases I have them supply a topic paragraph that they were required to write before starting their project. I have had parents tell me how much they appreciate using this website because they can see their student’s work and share it with family who do not live in the area easily.
    I really like the idea of having the kids uses Google Slides to create their own portfolio. I am definitley going to look into doing that starting this year! Thanks for the idea!

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