Mrs Humanities

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#LearningFirst 3 Pillars Workshop

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending and presenting a workshop at the Beyond Levels #LearningFirst Conference at Canterbury Christ Church University.

I went away inspired as well as with a sense of confirmation that I’m doing the right thing by my students.

3 pillars of effective marking and feedback

My workshop was on the 3 Pillars of Effective Marking and Feedback. I was lucky to have had a full workshop (with a few additional attendees not on the list). Whilst the majority of those that attended were from a primary background it was interesting to hear a wide range of perspectives on the why we mark, the problems surrounding marking and providing feedback and then approaches to it.

As promised these are my slides from the workshop, free for your use. Simply click here to download them from my google drive.

If you would like an editable version, feel free to get in touch.

Hope they can be of use.

 

Mrs Humanities

 

 


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Resource – ACE Peer Assessment

resourceAs I’ve spoken about already in my last few posts is the role of peer assessment in my classroom. This is something I particularly focus on with sixth form.

I want them to understand mark schemes and understand the exam style questions.

In order to help with this I’ve introduced with them ACE peer assessment.

Quite simply students swap their essays or answers to past paper questions and carry out the following using the mark schemes:

They tick if they accept what is written, they place a small triangle next to a point if they wish to challenge something, then pose a question at the end of the piece of work and finally place an asterisk next to anything they think needs extending in order to get full marks.

ACE peer assessment.png

Students do not give each grades, only how many marks they think have been achieved before improvements are made.

Students are then given time to make improvements to their work based upon the feedback provided by their peers.

I then check and give an overall mark for their work after improvements. However I keep a record of before and after improvements to demonstrate the progress being made following feedback.

Here’s a word and PDF version of the display posters I’ve created so I don’t have to keep writing it on the board.

What do you think of ACE peer assessment? Something you could use?

Mrs Humanities

 

 

3 pillars of effective marking, less is more feedback


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3 Pillars of Effective Marking (& Feedback)

During my presentation at PedagooHampshire16 in September, I mentioned the 3 pillars of effective marking that came out of the Eliminating unnecessary workload around marking from the Independent Teacher Workload Review Group report.

They were meaningful, manageable and motivating. I thought I’d write a post on my interpretation and approach to these 3 pillars and how I therefore make marking work for me.

3-pillars

Meaningful

I believe that for feedback to be meaningful it needs to be suitable for the age group, needs provide students with something to act upon and given within a suitable time frame.

Therefore I find it hard to encourage teachers to mark after a set period of time, the sooner a student receives feedback on their work the sooner they can respond to it effectively. Leaving work 4 lessons or so before it is marked quite simply gives students time to forget. Now I’m not saying mark every piece of work after every lesson, no way, but choose pieces of work that you want students to have time to improve on before it is given summative feedback. This could be an extended piece of writing, an assessment or DME for instance; something that can generally be done over two or more lessons.

In order to make this manageable for myself I’ve used feedback grids in the past, whereby I’ve given feedback in lessons to as many as possible through verbal discussion and highlighting achieved criteria on the grid and identifying what I’d like students to focus on for the remainder of the lesson to improve their work. Thus leaving me with fewer books to check at the end of the lesson. I’ve then used 20 minutes or so before my next lesson with the students to finish marking any books I didn’t get to see in the lesson. I then used the criteria to give whole class feedback and individual in the next lesson before students went onto make improvements to their work.

Nowadays I’m making use of the Feedback-Feedforward approach and have been using Feedforward Book Look Record Sheets – quite simply I have looked through books, noted down any reoccurring misconceptions  and areas for improvement and feeding back to students at the start of the next lesson. I’ve quite simply been putting a code in students books and they have then written the corresponding comment in their books and responded to it. Thus ensuring they are reacting to feedback immediately rather than weeks or even months later in some cases I’ve seen.

One strategy I use in class to make marking meaningful is the use of peer-assessment within lessons, ensuring students time to act upon it there and then, therefore don’t leave peer assessment until the end of a task or end of a lesson. Get students into the routine of checking each others work as they do it, start by providing meaningful suggestions on the board and as students become more confident in what it is they should be looking for remove the scaffold and allow them to write their own constructive feedback.

 

Manageable

I’m a strong believer that we as teachers should not have to mark everything in a students book, by that I mean glance over it in lessons and maybe out of lessons as well but don’t sit down and give feedback on all of the work. Carry a pen around the class with you, use marking codes as you glance at students work or use dot marking e.g. put a dot in the margin where you see a SPaG error. If a student wants a particular piece of work checked encourage them to highlight the work by putting a box around it.

I actively encourage teachers not to mark every piece of work, glance at it, note any misconceptions and plan following lessons to deal with any arising issues. Adapting planning in my view is far more effective than taking books home to mark, spending several hours marking them and creating a ‘visual’ dialogue between student and teacher.

Motivating

This one is probably where I fall down. I don’t provide ‘well done, you’re work is great’ kind of comments, my comments are very much about the achievements and ways to improve for example ‘you have effectively backed your explanation up with an example from the  text’, ‘next try to annotate your diagrams to demonstrate you understand them’.

In my NQT year I was told by a parent I need to be more positive about the accomplishments of his daughter, a few messages of well done, a sticker or smiley face here or there, would make his daughter work harder for me. So I started doing it for her, no surprise she was still poorly behaved and made little effort. And any way Ofsted praised my marking in both inspections I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing so…. I’ve not changed.

I’d rather give the well done, excellent effort etc. as verbal praise. In particular I find that using students work as examples for the rest and asking students what they think has been done effectively has far greater impact than me writing a well done message in their book.

Or if the student is perhaps quiet or doesn’t accept praise well, I will say to them one-to-one how I like that they’ve done this or that in their work and they’re putting in significant effort. However I will always then give suggestions for how to improve because there is always room for improvement.

And anyway I use loads of peer assessment, using the Kind, Helpful and Specific approach thus students receive some lovely comments from their peers in class. They are always forthcoming with praise, but are also kindly constructive with how the work could be improved. From experience I find students are more motivated when their peers are assessing their work, often apologising if their handwriting isn’t their neatest or they’ve made a number of spelling mistakes (why do they never do that for me? ).

Something I’ve recently introduced as a way of providing feedback is the use of a feedforward book look record sheet. As a check a set of books, I’ve been writing down reoccurring misconceptions, SPaG errors and next steps. The only thing I’ve done is books is double tick for successes and codes that relate to next steps, SPaG and/or misconceptions. I then simply scan the sheet and project onto my whiteboard.

I verbally go through the feedback and students write down the corresponding comments to their next steps and misconceptions. They then have 5-10 minutes depending on the work to be done to make improvements to SPaG and to react to the next steps.

In the praise section I identify what double ticks or single ticks represent in the students books and students work out what is relevant to them. I also include any exceptional performance in the task e.g. full marks, significant effort, major improvements. It’s motivating for students to see their name in this section I think.

In the Assessment of Understanding I put students initials using a RAG system. Any students in the red section are my main concerns, so I will check their responses to feedback first, amber next and so on. I’ve told students that this is nothing to worry about, but it means that I know who to check in with first of all. I think however over time this will motivate students to push themselves out of the red and amber sections and into the green. I am wary this could upset students however, so I don’t focus on it in my verbal feedback, I zoom in on the bits I’m discussing so most of my time is spent looking at the Praise, Misconceptions, SPaG and Next Steps sections of the sheet. If I find this to be demotivating at all, I will blank RAG section of the sheet out when I show the class.

 

Well I hope this gives you some ideas and something to think about.

 

Mrs Humanities

 

 

feedforward marking feedback pen colour


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Promoting Peer Assessment

As you’re probably aware by now, I do a lot of peer and self assessment, feedback and directed improvement and reflection time (DIRT) in my lessons.

For some time now I’ve had students use different colour pens to make their peer/self assessment stand out. In the past I’ve used what I’ve had available, usually a combination of red or green pens.

Often my students have had time to perfect their work, in order to do this they use a pink pen to highlight their improvements such as SPaG corrections.

This year my main focus is incorporating this across my Key Stage 3 classes, since I’m at a new school as of September, it requires embedding.

This is how I’m doing it

a) Firstly I’ve focused on incorporating peer assessment in lessons. In order to do this I give students a set amount of time on a task, when they reach the end of this time they swap books and peer assess. Firstly they look at SPaG and will identify any errors in purple pen using the following coding system.

peer-assessment-marking-code

I ask students to also give a kind, specific and helpful comment at this point to identify how the student could improve their work. To start with I give suggestions on the board, but hopefully I can remove this scaffold in due course.

b) Next step is perfecting what has already been done. Students will take a pink pen and make any corrections to the work that has already been completed.

c) Students then take steps in the remainder of their work to meet the target set by their peer. They will write the majority of it in their usual colour pen, however when they do the thing their peer suggested, they write this in pink pen to make it stand out when I mark their books. This speeds up my marking process significantly.

d) When I mark the books I take note of key points such as SPaG errors, misconceptions, praise and any other next steps I feel are appropriate on a feedforward book look record sheet. I give any misconceptions and next steps a code and write this in student books. I then scan the sheet and display it on the board. Students then write down the comments that are relevant to them and act on them during a Feedforward session (aka DIRtime).

So far this year they’ve simply done this in their usual colour pen, however I’m introducing that this is done in green pen after the half term again so it stands out to me when I mark their books.

In order to support students I’ve created this poster to identify relevant colours and what they represent and what double ticks and the steps represent in their books.

feedforward colours.png

I have to say that this method is one way my evening workload has reduced so far this year. The instant feedback and resulting action being taken immediately is far more effective than receiving my feedback several lessons later.

What do you think? Opinions welcomed.

Mrs Humanities


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Resource: Feedforward Book Look Record

resourceFollowing my own presentation at #pedagoohampshire16 I’ve decided to try out marking crib sheets and whole class feedback in order to be able to check books more regularly but mark less since I want marking to inform planning as much as possible.

Following on from some inspiration from @MrThorntonTeach I decided to make a marking crib sheet which I’ve called the Feedforward Book Look Record.

The idea being that I will use the findings from the book looks for plan the following lessons. That way resources, activities and next steps can be catered for the class/individuals thus closing the gap sooner rather than later.

Feedforward Book Look Record DIRT Marking and Feedback

How will it be used?

Quite simply I will look through a set of books as I do I will complete the relevant sections of the record sheet.

Praise – highlight whole class and individual successes, make note of any rewards that need to be given.

Unfinished work – make note of any students with work that is incomplete in order to discuss completion with students in class.

Misconceptions – outline any misconceptions both individual and reoccurring misconceptions to late deal with during the planning of the next lesson.

SPaG – take note of any spelling mistakes that can then be incorporated into a learning activity, as well as any punctuation and grammar errors that are reoccurring so that suitable tasks or targets can be created.

Next steps – generate any questions or tasks that can be worked upon as part of the DIRT process, also highlight any particular skills I want students to work on in the work that follows.

Assessment of understanding – here I will simply place students initials where I feel their understanding of the work lies I will probably only write out those I feel are in the amber or red categories so I can focus on them in the following lesson/s.

And there you have my version of the marking crib sheet inspired by @MrThorntonTeach

You can download a copy here.

Mrs Humanities

 

 


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A question to Ponder

In a lot of my lessons, particularly those I planned for Opening Minds (combination of citizenship, values, PSHE and RE) would involve this activity.

It’s really simple, but encourages students to develop their thinking skills.

It’s called quite simply “A question to ponder”.

Student’s are presented with a question to consider, this can be at the start of a lesson, middle or towards the end. Sometimes I pose the same question two or three times in a lesson to see how their opinions and understanding develop through the course of a lesson.

Sometimes I get them to write down their thoughts, sometimes I get students to discuss in pairs before sharing with the class, other times I simply get student’s to verbally share their ideas with the class. It’s quite a useful approach to combine with Think, Pair, Share activities.

Here are some examples from geography and opening minds that I’ve used.

q2p 2q2p farmingq2p

I had an idea this morning whilst I planned year 12 lessons of introducing it as a plenary activity. Students will write their own Questions to Ponder based on the lessons learning and one or two will form the starter for the next lesson.

I will present the question on the board at the start of the lesson giving them time whilst they get settled to ponder it. We can then discuss the question for 5 minutes or so and link it into the next lessons work.

Hope you’ve been inspired.

Mrs Humanities


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Experiences in Long Term Planning

Planning lessons, is probably one of my favourite parts of being a teacher.

If I’m honest it wasn’t until half way through my NQT year that I started to see that it’s not so much the planning lesson by lesson that’s important it’s the planning of learning as a whole over a period of time.

Initially I would lesson plan by looking at the SoW and planning each lesson by what the scheme said should be taught. I later came to realise I hated this, it made teaching rigid and meant I was pretty much teaching to the test.

When I became Head of Humanities I was provided with the opportunity to start from scratch. The school was in its first year of opening, the former HoD left nothing behind so I literally had a blank canvas to work with. Whilst at times it was hard, it meant I learnt a lot about structuring learning over time – for each topic for each year group I’d consider the knowledge and understanding required, identify the skills focus, create a variety of forms of summative assessment and organise opportunities for formative assessment.

In my first year (2014 – 2015) I was writing schemes of work like this…

SOW

These would be for each year group (7,8,10 & 11) for each topic (6 per year in KS3) for each lesson of the topic. This was the expectation. Since I was the only one in the department I had to plan each lesson, resource each lesson and then embed it all into the SoW.

Last year (2015 – 2016) I decided this was too time consuming and eventually started writing schemes of work more along these lines…

example

This was much easier, it simply outlined the topic title and skills focus, assessment weeks and data input weeks. The resources provided the lesson outline, resources etc. so why did I need to repeat it all in another document? The lessons were organised clearly into the department folder like so…

organised

…this meant that any other teachers teaching Humanities could quite simply find out which lesson they were on and find it in the folder along with all the resources necessary to teach it. All they needed to do then was differentiate to suit their classes.

For each topic I had the outcomes in mind and outlined at them at the start of the SoW. This meant non-specialists knew the aims and objectives for the SoW.

outcomes

From the feedback I received from non-specialists this made it a lot easier to know where they were in the SoW and where they were heading with it; making it easier to prepare for summative assessments and data input.

Over the long term, I’d look at the skills being taught across the year to ensure an even spread of each assessment objective (see table below) for the key Humanities subjects of Geography and History.  Each formative assessment would assess students ongoing knowledge and understanding and would focus on particular assessment objectives.

AOS

For example this assessment (below) focused primarily on source interpretation as part of assessment objective HAO3 Source Skills. However the task required students to draw upon their knowledge and understanding of the topic which meant they also covered aspects of other assessment objectives. This helped when providing holistic grades for students.

assessment

So this has been approach to planning over time, hope it’s provided some ideas to help you.

 

 

 

 


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Developing Independent Learners – Attempts at Flipped Learning

During Term 3 and 4 of this year I attempted flipped learning with one of my year groups. I came to the decision to attempt it based on their feedback, however it didn’t work out as effectively as I’d hoped.

This post will outline my approach and top tips, success and failures could be a whole other post.

Approach

Pre-Learning/ Homework

For a unit of work on rivers I wanted a particular year group to take some independence in their learning. I set up week by week pre-learning activities on SAM learning*.

Each activity would introduce key concepts, processes and vocabulary – the activities were always supported by a video or web link that students could use for extra support. The weekly activities were based around reading some information or watching a video clip and then either answering some multiple choice questions or fill the blanks. .

The activity for the term was  to create a project on rivers – this could be in any chosen form such as booklets, posters, models with info sheets, videos, PowerPoints etc. Their creativity was their only limit. I really didn’t mind how they presented their understanding.

Classwork

In the first lesson students were given a prior knowledge entry ticket, they were introduced to the project and given task sheets. Everything was explained to them and an introduction to rivers was given.

task

Each week then had a different focus.

  • Week 1 – Planning and research
  • Week 2 – Features of a River Drainage Basin
  • Week 3 – River Processes (erosion and weathering)
  • Week 4 – River Processes (transportation and deposition)
  • Week 5 – River Landforms (waterfalls and gorges)
  • Week 6 – River Landforms (meanders and ox-bow lakes)

The pre-learning covered the topic for the following week

  • Week 1 – Features of a River Drainage Basin
  • Week 2 – River Processes (erosion and weathering)
  • Week 3 – River Processes (transportation and deposition)
  • Week 4 – River Landforms (waterfalls and gorges)
  • Week 5 – River Landforms (meanders and ox-bow lakes)
  • Week 6 – Revision

Students were given the learning matrix for the topic which outlined the success criteria and how they could work their way up each band.

matrix

It outlined the ‘Need to Know’ questions and the links to the assessment objectives as well as outlining what they needed to demonstrate in order achieve each bronze, silver or gold in the topic.

Each lesson students had access to a variety of resources including information sheets in the ‘Help Yourself’ station, textbooks, revision guides and their SAM learning work. On occasions students also had access to iPads.

Assessment of Learning

— Prior Knowledge Entry Ticket

At the start of the topic students were given a prior knowledge entry ticket that looked like this.

prior knowledge

Students simply ticked off what they thought they knew. This was rather interesting to identify their starting points and perceptions on what they thought they knew. For the first few lessons I would question students based on what they thought they already knew, later I would question them on what they identified as not understanding. Students came back to this in the final week and in a different colour ticked off what they knew again.

– – Entry Tickets

At the start of each lesson students were given a entry ticket on arrival, before getting on with their projects they had to complete and peer assess the entry ticket. If students struggled with any aspects or did not achieve 80% they would be invited (or instructed) to attend an in lesson (or sometimes out of lesson) tutorial to support their learning.

— RAG Rated SAM Learning Activities

Each week I could see a RAG rating of student understanding. If a student achieved less than 60% they would have a tutorial in the lesson whilst the rest of the class carried on with the activity.

— Learning Matrix

Once in lesson tutorials were undertaken and students felt confident to move on, I would spend time discussing the work and providing feedback to students on their progress to far. To do this we would first look at the need to know questions and students would identify which ones they felt they had addressed so far. Next we looked at the banded success criteria and again students would identify the criteria they felt they achieved so far, I would then look at their work and discuss it with them. Whilst i did this I would highlight the criteria they had achieved in yellow and if there was something I thought they could do to improve I would highlight the criteria in pink.

Students then had the opportunity to go away and try to achieve the highlighted criteria, later on they would get it checked and signed off by me.

Top Tips

  • Introduce pre-learning over time – don’t introduce it all at once, embed  pre-learning over time and slowly introduce the use of pre-learning into several lessons over the term. Once achieved then introduce it across the whole term.
  • Use entry or exit tickets – these were a fantastic way of assessing student understanding. They were simple in terms of what they assessed – recall of subject knowledge – but allowed for instant feedback on what students were understanding from the SAM learning activities,  tutorials and classwork.
  • Use an electronic system for pre-learning – having access to a system such as SAM Learning meant I could track who was actively accessing the resources at home, how many attempts they made at the activity and if they were making progress over time in the scores achieved.
  • Give it a go – although I will put my hands up and say it wasn’t a complete success this time, I discovered more about my students and their ability to work independently; there were those that really struggled and just couldn’t cope and those that thrived with the opportunity  whilst there were also a whole load in between.
  • Finally have a back up plan – if you find individuals or groups of learners are not able to access the learning in this manner (which you will) ensure you have a back up. I ended up with one class split into those that worked with me in the usual style whilst the rest of the class worked independently, checking in with me for support and feedback when necessary.

I will save my success and failures for another time.

If you were thinking of trying flipped learning, I hope this post has given you ideas.

Feel free to ask any questions.

Mrs Humanities

*Note: I am not affiliated with SAM Learning in anyway, I’ve not been paid or asked to promote them either. I’m just referring to them in reference to my experience. There are many other fantastic sites that provide a similar service or opportunities for flipped learning including Edmodo, Show my Homework and Google Classroom to name just a few.

 

 


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Need to Know Learning Matrix

learning matrixThis year grades 1-9 were  introduced into the tracking system for Key Stage 3. I struggled at first, in fact I still am, but the Need to Know Learning Matrix were my approach to tracking progress over the term for each of topics studied.

 

Not only does it allow me to track progress, outline Schemes of Work to the students and provide feedback, it encourages independent learning and reduces the time i spend marking and writing extensive feedback.

I started the year with simply listing need to know questions and success criteria but then realised that by coding the criteria I could provide quality feedback without the extensive write comments in the students books.

I simply use two different colour highlighters, fill in the key and highlight the coded success criteria. Firstly I highlight the criteria achieved in one colour, then highlight the criteria I would like the students to attempt in another; once this criteria has been achieved I simply tick it off.

matrix

I quickly l took to writing WWW and listing the criteria codes followed by the level up steps and the criteria codes I wanted the student to work on during DIRT. Sometimes I just write the criteria code with a tick to indicate it’s completion.

 

For lower ability students I may write questions to support them in achieving the coded criteria with a box to indicate the expected length of the answer.

level up2

If this has intrigued you can download my Need to Know Learning Matrix template here.

I’ve also uploaded a number of them on to TES, feel free to download and leave feedback.

Hope they’re of use.

 

Mrs Humanities

 


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Before and After Topic Review

TOPIC REVIEW

Last week I shared the following tweet on a before and after topic review sheet I use.

It’s quite a simple but effective approach to student self-assessment.

At the start of the topic students RAG rate their understanding. Not only does this allow for the student to assess to their prior learning but allows the teacher to identify areas of confidence and thus areas to challenge the student.

Then at the end of the topic students RAG rate again. I like to do this before a DIRT lesson, this then allows me to focus a students attention to the areas in which they feel less confident and therefore allows me to close any gaps in their knowledge.

Here’s a template for the document – I print the two pages on one sheet.

Topic Review Before

Topic Review After

Hope they are of use.

 

Mrs Humanities