Mrs Humanities

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Mrs Humanities shares… how I cut down my marking workload.

mrs humanities shares

If there is one thing that has had the biggest impact on my work-life balance it has to be assessment and marking. There was once a time when marking took me several hours an evening and several over the weekend. I had a marking timetable and felt I had to rigorously stick to it to ensure I ‘passed’ book scrutinises.  I’d worry if my books weren’t up-to-date yet also felt that marking has little impact on student progress.

Nowadays I spend a few hours a week out of directed time marking and assessing. No longer do I drag a bag of books home with me. No longer do I have a books and assessments piling up by the door over the holidays, calling and beckoning me to mark them instead of resting. Yet I see more progress taking place in my classroom than ever before. How? Well here’s my secret, I started to refuse. I rebelled. I researched. I implemented. Okay, there was more to it than that, here’s how…

  1. Adapt to School Policy
    My last school had a every 4 lessons policy; books required success comments and next steps to act on during directed improvement and reflection time. To start with they were written comments then I started to use a feedback grid instead – these consisted of a bank of comments in which I’d expect students to achieve, followed by a bank of comments that students may need to do to improve their work.
    GCSe exam questionHaving these in place helped me to live mark and ensure the feedback I’d given was evidenced to save having to write verbal feedback in books. I’d carry a highlighter and highlight the achieved criteria, would put a dot on the criteria to work on next. When I’d collect in the work, I’d already done half the marking and could simply finish it off and highlight one or two of the ‘next steps’ criteria for students to do during DIRT.
  2. Meticulously planned feedback
    Next step has been planning when and where to give feedback across the school year. My department and I have looked at the work we get students to complete and figured out how we can assess progress over time. We’ve introduced a spiralling curriculum in which skills and content repeat throughout topics allowing us to spread out formative and summative assessment. The provision of feedback has been carefully plotted to ensure students can act on it in a timely fashion but so they can also make use of it in the long term when they come back to similar skills or content.
    Assessment outline.png
  3. Less is more
    Alongside careful planning of feedback across the year, we’ve reduced what we mark to ensure that feedback is high quality and effective. For example at GCSE we give students 3 sets of exam style questions for each unit to assess their understanding of the content, we don’t mark their notes unless students ask. We use assessment for learning strategies in class to check understanding and to pick up on misconceptions along with verbal feedback. The exam style questions are roughly undertaken every 2-3 weeks. Despite not marking the classwork, I know where my students are through discussions, live marking and assessment for learning strategies.
    booklet pages
  4. Create a feedback-friendly classroom
    I’m a huge fan of feedback-friendly classrooms whereby teachers are not the only providers of feedback. I teach my students from day 1 how to feedback effectively. It takes times, scaffolding and persistence but it pays off.

    By the end of the year students are highly effective at self and peer-assessing. They do not take my place as the professional provider of feedback but they provide one another with feedback on their work and they have time to act on the feedback before they submit work. I feel it’s an important skill to teach to support students in becoming independent learners. More on peer assessment here.

  5. Feed-up, feedback and feedforward
    Feed up, might be better known as modelling expectations or to clarify the objective, before allowing students to engage with a task. Take feedback from students through assessment for learning and use it to forward plan. For this I quite like using the whole class feedback approach, I review all of the books without writing anything in them. Instead I go through the feedback with the class the next lesson. Feedforward Book Look Record
    I use the information I’ve gained from their work to then plan the following lesson or series of lessons to review ideas or misconceptions, to challenge and extend or change the course of the learning taking place.
  6. Live mark
    I love discussing work with students there and then in the classroom; the ability to identify successes with students and areas for improvement in the classroom is incredibly powerful. I carry a highlighter with me as much as possible and will highlight areas for improvement or put a dot in the margin to identify an area to review. I discuss progress with my students and encourage meta-cognitive questioning.
  7. Simplify feedback
    Make it simple. Use strategies such as marking codes, dot marking or comment banks to reduce your time spent writing feedback. More ideas here
  8. #FeedbackNOTmarking
    Since starting at this school in September 2016, I’ve strived to ensure marking and feedback is manageable, meaningful and motivating for myself, my team and my students. In doing so we’ve moved from marking to feedback as part of our departmental policy.

    For me, not having a set number of lessons in which marking has to take place has been freeing. I much prefer using the time I’d have once spent marking, planning lessons that actually lead to more progress. I use the feedback from student work and the discussions I have with them to integrate work that covers the targets I would have otherwise spent several hours writing into their books. Personally I prefer that to writing a comment that may never be acted on. More on the 3 pillars here.
    3 pillars of effective marking and feedback

At PedagooHampshire I was extremely surprised to hear of schools either still implementing excessive marking policies or even introducing them. I would have thought that with the Governments recent publication of the workload reduction toolkit along with all the reports on reducing teacher workload and evidence from the Education Endowment Foundation on feedback that there would be more schools moving away from such policies.

For more of my posts on #feedbackNOTmarking click here

Feel free to share any other ways you’ve reduced the workload associated with marking, feedback and assessment in your school.

Mrs Humanities

 


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Mrs Humanities shares… 5 simple feedback strategies

mrs humanities shares

1 // Feedback Grids

Not only do feedback grids allow you to live mark, they provide students with success criteria. Get your grids made up before students undertake an extended piece of work; you then know what you expect from your students and they do too. As students work, visit them and discuss what they have achieved so far and tick off or highlight. Highlight through a dot, steps or other way the criteria you want them to focus on next.

Here’s an example…

levelled work feedback grid

I would simply highlight in yellow the achieved criteria and during live marking would put a dot next to the content I wanted them to focus on next. Once the task was complete, I would highlight in pink the ‘you could improve by…’ criteria and give the students some time to make these improvements.

2 // Dot marking

There are a vareity of ways you can use dot marking. Firstly you can use it as you live mark, put a dot on the students work where an error or misconception exists; students then have to try to work it out or are given verbal guidance from the teacher. Another approach can be that different colours indicate different successes or areas for improvement as shown here by @LDNHumsTeacher .

dot marking code

3 // ACE feedback

The teacher take on ACE peer assessment. Quite simply the teacher ticks and flicks successes, puts a question mark for mistakes or misconceptions and an asterick for an extension. The teacher can either write comments and questions in the book or write these for the whole class to see and share them on the board. These maybe indicated specifically to the student through codes.

ace teacher

4 // Whole class feedback

As I’ve shared many times before, whole class feedback is exactly that feedback given to the whole class. Students maybe required to write relevant comments into their books or act on specific feedback shared with the class. For more information on whole class feedback check out this post.

5 // Highlight and Improvehighlight and improve

Really is that simple, highlight work that could be improved. Use alongside verbal feedback, dot marking, ACE feedback or what ever other strategies you wish to use. Encourage students to reflect on their work and identify errors or improvements for themselves.

Mrs Humanities

 


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Developing a Feedback NOT Marking ‘Policy’

This summer I was tasked with the job of editing and improving the Department Handbook I had inherited. One of my key focuses was going to be on creating consistency in marking and feedback within the department.

In order to this I looked at what we already had in place and how we could become collectively more efficient whilst maintaining high quality assessment and feedback for our students.

Using the work I’d done at my former school in researching and putting into practice assessment and feedback strategies, I looked at what we were already doing individually and as a department and took it from there.

First things first we had the job of deciding what should be marked. In a department meeting we identified pieces of work that would be assessed, marked and feedforward could take place on. Assessment pieces were the first to be included, we tend not to assess by test due to our approach to the Middle Years Programme and instead our students produce pieces of work that will be assessed according to specific MYP criteria. Next we decided on one or two pieces of class work and/or homework per topic that would demonstrate student progress in particular skills or MYP criteria.

Below is an example for September to December for one year group. You can see we decided on particular skills and/or MYP criteria to assess and the work that would be associated with that.

assessed work

Our second job was to decide what type of assessment would take place and by whom; would it be assessed by the teacher, peers or by either.

types of assessment

In inadvertently we came up with a few guidance rules

  • If the task was to be assessed for the Humanities faculty then this would be assessed by the teacher only, however ACE or SpACE peer assessment could be carried out throughout the process to help students to make improvements before submitting their final piece.
  • After feedback of any kind, the teacher would assess the piece of work that has undergone Feedback-Feedforward.
  • If there were quantitative or definitive answers e.g. grid references, country names, numbers etc. then it could be peer or teacher assessed so long as mark scheme was provided.
  • Any work could be peer assessed part way through the task, providing time was given for students to continue and make suggested improvements before submission. Also know as time to Stop. Peer Assess. Progress. in my classroom.

Each piece of assessed work was then colour coded to identify who should be marking it.

types of assessment

type of assessment

Thirdly I looked at the best practice taking place in the department and my own research into marking and feedback strategies to create a departmental toolkit to reduce workload and to develop effective Feedback-Feedfoward cycles.

In the end it ended up looking something like this…

page 1 and 2page 3 and 4page 5 and 6

And frequency of marking? Well… “There is no strict rule on how frequently our student books should be marked and assessed.”

The only rule we have is… “Students must receive feedback in some form on a regular basis – this can be through verbal or written feedback, whole class or individual”.

 

If you’re looking for ideas for marking and feedback, there are plenty more on my site. Here are a few to get you started

If you’d like a copy of the departmental feedback and marking document to give you a starting point with your own department, please feel free to get in contact.

Hope the post is of use.

Mrs Humanities

 

 

 


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Mrs Humanities shares… 5 Whole Class Feedback Examples

mrs humanities shares

The time was September 2016, I shared a version of a Marking Crib Sheet from @MrThorntonTeach at Pedagoo Hampshire 2016 and since then I’ve been seeing whole class feedback every where. It even forms part of my Marking and Feedback Toolkit.

Now I’d say it’s nothing new, teachers and educators from across the world have been doing it for years. Marking work, then telling students what they could have done to make it better, where they went wrong, what misconceptions came up etc.etc. it just didn’t have an ‘official’ name. I remember RAG rating students work on a separate piece of paper during my NQT year, I’d have 3 columns and i’d write their initials under the relevant column so I knew who I needed to invest time in during the next lesson or would need to check their books at the end of the lesson to see how they’d done. Nowadays people are using crib sheets, whole class feedback, book look records or whatever other name they been given to record and SHARE such information with students.

Here are some examples I’ve seen that maybe of inspiration to you.

1 //  Mr Thornton Teach

The original example I first shared at Pedagoo Hampshire 2016. When I told people how book looks had cut down my marking time and gave me more of a work/life balance it was like a revelation for many. Pleased to see Greg’s post has gone far and wide influencing educators across the country.

2 // @TGEngTandL

I really liked how this example had an exemplar of good practice included along side the feedback to help students to develop their own work. A useful ad developmental strategy.

3 // @Greg_Parekh 

This one I feel is good for younger students or when you are first developing the strategy with students in the sense that it directs students towards the comments and questions that apply to them; Scaffolding them in the initial stages of identifying relevant feedback and how they can improve. I’ve done this through simple codes in their books before which relate to the next steps comment on the sheet. Once students become better at identifying what is relevant to them, I take the codes or direction way.

4 // @matthewmoor3 

This example works alongside a marking code system and has been used to mark an assessed piece of work. Matthew used the codes on the assessed work to identify to students what they needed to do to improve in order to provide students with precise targets whilst the ‘warm, hot and super scorching’ tasks give students choice in how to act on feedback.

5 // @ScienceLP

The simple and effective style. Easy for everyday use to check progress and understanding before using to plan subsequent lessons. Easy.

Now the key point to remember with whole class feedback is that the aim is too reduce the time spent marking but ensuring that students receive high quality feedback that enables them to progress. Scaffolding the technique is important at first but once students are confident it can be taken that away so that you encourage students to reflect and determine their own improvement actions. Again takes some support and scaffolding but eventually students can master it becoming drivers of their own progress (oh but then it’s the end of the year and the training starts all over again in September).

In addition to the provision of feedback, these sheets provide an excellent basis for planning. Sometimes I just use the book look sheets to formatively assess a class, so I know where to go next lesson. Often misconceptions influence my starter and RAG rating student understanding helps to identify where the direct support, where to scaffold or differentiate.

Hope these have inspired you to give #WholeClassFeedback a try.

Mrs Humanities


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Mrs Humanities shares… 5 wellbeing strategies

mrs humanities shares

Wellbeing is being flung around from here to there these days…. and about time to be honest. However, my concern is that too often schools are merely paying lip service to staff wellbeing and not embedding it into the ethos and foundations of the school.

Here are 5 things I feel help to embed staff wellbeing…

1// Thank yous.
It doesn’t take much to sincerely say thank you. It doesn’t need to be a public affair (in fact it’s the little thank yous that I always find have the most impact), but it does have to be meaningful and sincere. A note card or post it note with those little words can make all the difference to somebodies day, being recognised for the hardwork and commitment they make to the school and the lives of their students. It doesn’t take much to show a sincere thanks.

2// Acts of kindness from Senior Leadership
Every now and then surprise staff with an act of kindness; leave surprise cakes or fruit in the staff room, take cups of tea to Middle Leadership meetings, provide snacks for twilight meetings. Anything that’s not forced and is supplementary to anything that insists participation by all staff like whole-staff wellbeing days… get rid of them. They’d rather have the time to do work so they can enjoy the weekend with family and friends.

3// Shout out boards
A little something I really like to see in schools is a shout out board, where staff can share the great things they’ve seen going on in the school. I’ve seen shout out boards have a range of focusses such as

  • T&L focused – ideas seen, magpied strategies, inspiration from further afield etc.
  • Wellbeing focussed – motivational quotes, thank you messages etc.

or just a mix of this and that worth shouting about. Personally I think making it anonymous makes it even more rewarding but that’s just my opinion.

4// Leaving early
Encouraging all staff to leave early at least once a week, but it mustn’t be made compulsory. Just that SLT should lead by example and shout about making sure one day a week you leave earlier than you do on other days, just half an hour can make a big difference. That could be half an hour for making a cake, spending time with your kids or other family members, going to an exercise class maybe even just half an hour more of reading. As long as that gained time is spent on you, just once a week.

5// School social activities
What about activities in school for staff, run by staff. Maybe an after school exercise class, termly quiz night, a morning yoga sessions, morning meditation? Although not all staff want to socialise with their colleagues, I think it’s nice to have the opportunity. When I started at my current school last September, I was thrilled to find they did several exercise classes after school. It meant I quickly got to know people and was made to feel welcomed and comfortable. The sessions were free, run for by staff for staff and we all donated money to a cause close to the heart of the teacher running it. As soon as my wedding is out of the way, I’ll be back to them this year.

What does your school do to embed and promote staff wellbeing?

Share your thoughts and ideas.

And don’t forget to check out Teacher5aday and Teacher5adayBuddyBox for more inspiration.

Mrs Humanities

 

 

 


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Stop. Peer assess. Progress. 

stop peer assess progressHow often do you carry out peer assessment at the end of a task? I know I used to do it a lot in the past, I’d get students to read each other’s work, write a WWW and EBI comment or a kind, specific and helpful comment depending on the school system and then that would be the end of it.

Then when I started using DIRT in lessons, I might have got students to re-write a piece of their work or write an additional piece in action of the peer feedback.

Then I eventually realised, why I am getting them to peer assess at the end when if they were to carry out peer assessment part-way through a task that would give them time to act on the feedback there and then.

I first did this some time ago now in my last school, it was just before we had Ofsted in so that would have been about May 2015. In fact I did it during the observation lesson, students had been working on the Spanish Armada double lesson; at the end of the lesson they peer assessed each other on their chosen criteria. The next lesson they continued with the activity and made improvements as they produced new work – for instance if a student had wanted their use of PEE paragraphs assessed and in particular their use of evidence from the sources, their peer assessed how effectively they’d been applying evidence and how they could improve, when they continued the work the next day each time the student included new evidence they’d write it in pink to demonstrate the progress they were making in their use of evidence in their PEE paragraphs.

These days I rarely use peer assessment solely at the end of a piece of work, instead I apply it within activities to give students the opportunity to assess progress, make improvements and access inspiration to develop their own work.

Recently when I’ve mentioned the power of peer assessment in my classroom I’ve had a lot of backlash from other teachers on twitter, particularly when I’ve shared the ACE and SpACE peer assessment techniques. People arguing that we are expecting novices to assess novices. Now I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t expect my students to ever give a summative grade or level without assessing it myself as well, they are learning.

I might however ask them to predict the level or grade they think a finished piece of work might achieve using success criteria or a mark scheme and justify why in order to help them to understand what is being assessed but I never take it as the final grade. It’s merely an opportunity for students to engage with assessment criteria; in my opinion if they understand the assessment criteria when they sit an assessment whether it be a formative piece, a summative or external exam then they can apply it better? No?

I know my learner’s are not experts, but I’m training them to be. I’m facilitating their learning and that means both subject content, life long learning skills and their understanding of assessment criteria in order to maximise their potential in their GCSEs or other exams.

The opportunity to peer assess isn’t just about the outcome (grade, marks, levels etc) but the process. Students see other work whether it be good or bad practice; reflection upon what they see allows them to improve their own work. It’s an opportunity for idea sharing and to be inspired. A time to reflect on one’s own strengths and weaknesses. A time to consider successes and areas for improvement. An opportunity to gain feedback before submitting work as complete to the teacher. Personally peer assessment is more than that, it’s a learning experience.STOP PEER ASSESS PROGRESS

Yes, peer assessment does reduce my workload slightly. In the sense that it means students receive feedback there and then and the opportunity to act on it in a timely manner rather than days or weeks later. I mark their work, I assess their work. But I often found that marking work at the end or part way through myself meant a delay between producing the work and them receiving feedback on it, further more it meant a lag time between production and opportunity to act on the feedback.

I personally want my students to access timely feedback, verbal works but I can’t get around a whole class of 28-32 students in the time available so peer assessment helps students to access this feedback. Yes it takes training from day one, yes it takes time and yes it requires scaffolding but eventually students get it. They become confident in their ability to self and peer assess, they learn exam techniques throughout their years in secondary education and not just in the ‘exam’ years. Give stop, assess and progress and go in your classroom (but be consistent and persistent with it, it takes time to master).

How do you use peer assessment in your classroom? Do you agree with me? Disagree (polite debate welcomed)?

Mrs Humanities

 


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Guest Post from @geographyhanna – Combining Approaches

guest post

A word from MrsHumanities

I’m really excited to be sharing the very first guest post on the site. When I saw how Hanna (@geographyhanna) had combined approaches @ploguey and I to develop a feedback-feedforward approach in order to close the gap on an activity I felt it was something that should be shared more widely.

If you have something worth sharing and would like to write a guest post, get in touch.

I hope you enjoy the first guest blog on MrsHumanities.com

combining approaches

Finding myself spending hours providing specific and personalised written feedback to students, I became increasingly frustrated at the value students place on this written feedback. I often found myself writing the same thing for the same student again and again, and whilst I would provide them with DIRT time, they didn’t all use this productively or show signs of using it to improve their work and make progress. I would often get asked by Year 12 ‘so what do I have to do to improve?’, having not even read what I had thoughtfully spent time writing. It was infuriating. Searching through twitter looking for inspiration I came across @mrshumanities SpACE feedback.

I trialled the SpACE feedback initially with my dreamy top Year 7 set.  They were engaged, it got them thinking, asking amazing questions and really reflecting on their work. From this they summarised their findings into a WWW and EBI, part of our departmental policy. Reading them, they were informative and useful. Not the old classic ” you need to write more” or “work on your handwriting”, they had really thought about it. I trialled it on my Year 12’s and was equally impressed by the learning conversation and outcomes.  It has completely challenged my feedback practice and the way I view peer assessment.

Being newly addicted to twitter I had previously come across @ploguey read-edit improve approach. I had used the idea successfully with exam classes. Students really liked the level of challenge it provided and spotting mistakes became good points of conversation and developed an element of competition. The structure had the added benefit of supporting reluctant writers and highlighting the use of AfL in their books. However, I found that students were not brilliant at articulating their feedback in the ‘edit’ section and needed quite a lot of guidance for the higher level skills.

Example

This led to me combining the two ideas for my Year 11 revision session on explain the formation questions. Using the SpACE feedback provided them with some structure to their feedback and allowed them to edit and improve with a greater focus. In addition I also added an ‘apply’ section on the end, which lent itself well to the skills I was hoping to adapt. Whilst the students had not used used either approach previously and were a little saturated with revision, they engaged well and clearly showed development in their ability to structure this style of question. It is an approach I am excited about using more and will definitely be sharing and building in to schemes of learning.

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Thank you to @mrshumanities and @ploguey for the inspiration.

Hanna (@geographyhanna)

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First steps towards #feedbackNOTmarking

feedbackNOTmarking

This post is well a post from the heart. It’s a topic I feel passionate about.

During my PGCE I hated marking. It felt so tedious, ticking and flicking, in my second placement we didn’t even have to write any comments other than well done or great piece of work. It was boring and I didn’t see the value of it at the time, particularly as  I had more important things to do like essays to write, lessons to plan, a dissertation to research etc. etc.

During my NQT year I was introduced to RAG rated marking. Using felt tips we’d put a coloured dot at the end of the work in the appropriate colour based on student achievement and effort and write a comment and target.

However, I can honestly say I barely gave students time to act on the target. They’d write the target in the table at the front of their book but that was pretty much it. I’d encourage them now and then to look at their target and reflect on whether or not they were working on it but yeah can honestly say I felt like the effort vs. impact was minimal. I was definitely working harder at marking their books than they were at taking feedback on board.

During my RQT year, I moved schools and became Head of Humanities. I now had the opportunity to develop a system that worked for me and my students, especially as the school was setting up from scratch. It was a blank canvas.

As a school we introduced DIRT, a dedicated time for students to read and act on feedback. I created DIRT sheets to help emphasis this work in student books. As a school we were using a generic marking system of codes for SPaG, positive comments and next steps. Each next steps comment was given a tick box for students to tick off once they’d acted on the feedback. In addition school policy was that we had to mark books every 4 lessons.

marking timetable

To keep on top of it I had to create a marking timetable. I’d be marking EVERY week night in order to get through the books each week. On a Monday night I would try to mark two sets of books in one night in order to be able to give books back the next day for DIRT to take place. This would take me over 6 hours; I had a couple of frees on the Monday when I had this timetable so would mark for about 1 hour during the school day but the rest would be attempted outside. As you can imagine, I didn’t always get it done which meant DIRT wouldn’t take place again for another fortnight. At which point students had forgotten the task we’d been working on; sometimes even the knowledge behind it which would lead to further teaching before they could act on feedback. Hectic!

Making a Change

I started to make a move towards a slightly different system with the introduction of marking and feedback grids. These allowed me to set up a task, wonder around the class, discuss with students the criteria they had already achieved and where I wanted them to go next. Live marking was made possible. I’d carry a highlighter and a pen, I’d highlight achieved success criteria and pop an asterisk next to anything I wanted them to focus on there and then. I’d take in work and spend about 20-30 minutes, highlighting any remaining criteria that had been achieved. It revolutionised the time I spent marking.

The marking and feedback grids meant I was still able to provide diagnostic feedback through success comments and next steps as well as the timely provision of the opportunity to act on the feedback without it taking over my life. This is when I realised ‘we’ needed a change in the way we mark and feedback. And so the work on this began.

Don't assess everything

During the summer holidays of 2015 I spent time identifying in the schemes of work, tasks that should be focused upon in regards to the provision of diagnostic feedback. We didn’t need to be marking and assessing everything so I picked out the important parts of each topic to assess in detail. Firstly some questions drove my planning – what were the skills, knowledge and understanding students needed to take away? Where would they be addressed again? How can we show progression? I mapped out in the schemes of work the skills to be used, lesson by lesson (ish).  I looked at where peer assessment could be fitted in between teacher feedback and how that peer assessment could be used to progress students on. Honestly the peer assessment was okay, but there was definitely room for improvement to maximise its potential. In each unit of work, assessments were plotted based upon the school calender for data input and opportunities for DIRT to be undertaken mapped out in relation. All assessment work from each year group needed to be marked an assessed by data input week and since I taught almost every KS3 class as well as GCSE so had to ensure assessments were spaced out sufficiently to give me time to mark and assess them. In addition I wanted to ensure students had the opportunity to act on feedback before submitting work as completed.

sow.png

Stop, peer assess, progress!

It was only when I started to assess, plan and teach in this manner that I began to recognise that giving students time to act on feedback at the end of a piece of work meant it was loosing some of its potential. Therefore since September in my new school I’ve started to implement opportunities to act on feedback within pieces of work.

STOP PEER ASSESS PROGRESS.png

We now stop part way through, peer assess using ACE or SpACE peer assessment and then continue with the work set. Students act on the feedback in pink pen. Sometimes improvements are made in  the margins or at the end of the piece of work. As students continue the work they try to make the improvements in the rest of it. For instance if a peer has suggested adding evidence to support a particular point already made, the student will add evidence. Later on in their work each time they add evidence to support future points made they write this in pink pen or highlight it to demonstrate they are continuing to meet the target set.

Accepting Verbal Feedback

Verbal feedback in my opinion is significantly under valued and accepted as a form of effective feedback. It’s timely, differentiated and allows for immediate action. I’ve never understood the need to evidence verbal feedback, why do students need to write down what you said? why do we have to stamp or write VF in books? why can’t the student just spend the time acting on the feedback given. If they act on it, they are immediately making progress, they hadn’t done a, b and c before your feedback, now they have… that’s progress right?

I’m struggling to find an alternative to ‘evidencing’ verbal feedback, but personally believe we shouldn’t have to.

Whole class feedback

Save time marking each book individually, instead can we not move towards a whole class approach? I now mark books with detailed diagnostic feedback less frequently but that doesn’t mean I don’t know where my students are in terms of their understanding. Instead I’ve started using Whole Class Feedback Sheets  I will go through a set of books in about 30-40 minutes, noting down the reoccurring successes, any stand out work by students, any misconceptions and reoccurring SPaG errors. In addition I will write several next steps that could be implemented in a 10-15 minute DIRT session.

In order to feedback to students, I scan and project the sheet on the whiteboard and verbally go through the feedback. Students write down any comments relevant to them and will give a round of applause to any students that have been highlighted for exceptional effort or achievement, this is probably the highlight of this approach – the shared appreciation of success.

In terms of making progress, at present in student’s books I draw a set of steps and write a number that corresponds to the Next Steps on the sheet . Eventually I will leave this to students to contemplate which ones apply to them. Students then have 10-15 minutes to act on the next steps. If any students do not have a next steps as they have met the relevant success criteria they are given the opportunity to reflect on their learning through the use of the plenary board. 

Recording Next Steps/Targets

Now this is one that’s currently going through my mind, I think it’s important for students to have short term and long term targets for progression. In the Humanities we tend to teach by topic with reoccurring skills, I’m hoping that my plans for a spiralling curriculum in geography will hopefully help to improve this however I’m still to finalise these ideas. I’ll come back to this at a later date, but ideas are welcomed.

The Revolution Begins

So where am I going with this post. Well essentially I think we need a mass culture change towards marking, it should be more about the feedback in whatever form it takes. Students don’t need teachers that are too weighed down by the stresses of marking 30 books each night after teaching all day. They don’t need teachers that can only provide feedback on their work once every fortnight. They need be able to access timely feedback from their teachers and peers, feedback that allows for progress to take place. Feedback that allows them to act on it swiftly, not weeks later. They need teachers that are given the freedom to decide for themselves what needs to be assessed and how and when to do it.

These are my first steps towards reducing my marking workload, whilst maintaining a high standard of quality feedback for my students. It’s an ongoing process but something to think about for us all.

Your thoughts and comments are always welcomed.

Mrs Humanities

 

 


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My Marking and Feedback Toolkit

marking and feedback toolkit #feedbackNOTmarkingI think we all know by now that I actually love providing feedback in all shapes and forms. Over the past 3 years I’ve tried a large variety of methods to find what works best. Some methods are my go to approaches, a few I come back to now and then, others I’ve tried the once and binned.

feedback toolkit

I thought I’d share my top 5 feedback approaches that have become my #feedbackNOTmarking toolkit.

ACE Peer Assessment or the more recent take on it SpACE Peer Assessment.

This technique I use frequently with my classes. Often when students are working on an extended piece of writing  or a prolonged task I will get them to stop where they are (usually about half way into the task) and get them to ACE their peers work. Students will peer assess in purple pen using the coding system and write comments/questions at the end or in the margins. Once peer assessed the work is returned to the student and they act on the feedback there and then in pink pen. They then continue with the task and each time they make the suggested improvements, these could be anything from the spelling of a key work to the use of data as evidence, they do it in pink to clearly demonstrate the improvements and progress they have made in the remainder of the work. I usually use this approach with Key Stage 3.
I also however use ACE peer assessment with my 6th formers however rather than being carried out during a piece of work, students will peer assess at the end of an essay or extended piece. They are given time to act on the feedback before submitting the work as complete.

Marking and Feedback Grids
I use these in one of two ways. Firstly as a students work through an extended piece or assessment they are given the feedback grid as an outline of the success criteria they need to meet; as they achieve the criteria it is highlighted and discussions occur in relation to the next steps that could be taken to improve it. Depending on the age range and ability, sometimes I will write what to do next, highlight in a different colour next steps or give a specific task that will enable the next steps to be completed. The second way in which I use them are for the summative assessment of piece of work, I will create the feedback grid as a way of identifying the successes and areas of improvement for the student. Students will read and then reflect upon the feedback to identify their own targets and next steps to focus on through the next topic or piece of work. GCSE graded work

Double ticks, successes and next steps
This approach I use for formative assessment throughout the term. I quite simply single and double tick pieces of work. Double ticks identify to students that these are particularly strong aspects of the work and they have to explain through annotations in the margin or at the end why it was double ticked – this is in relation to the skills used within the work such as use of evidence, use of case study facts, stats and specifics and so on, rather than topic specific achievements. At the end of a marking session I will write a brief and concise comment in relation to their successes and next steps. Students will then act on the next steps feedback if it requires to so for instance a question to move their understanding on or to develop an answer they’ve given or it can be a target they need to focus on in the remainder of the topic again to move their learning and progress on. When possible I  also carry out double ticks as I walk around the classroom looking at and discussing work with students, usually we will verbally discuss why the double tick has been given.

Whole class feedback and feedforward
Sometimes it is not necessary to write diagnostic comments in students books, particularly in relation to everyday classwork so I use the whole class feedback approach. On a regular basis I will take a look through students books and record which students require praise for any particularly outstanding work, any students with unfinished work, any reoccurring misconceptions and SPaG errors and next steps that apply to more than 1 student on my feedforward sheet. Feedforward Book Look Record.png

I then use this information to plan the next sequence of lessons to ensure misconceptions are dealt with and students have an opportunity to act on the next steps. The whole class feedback sheet is shared with the students by scanning and projecting it onto the whiteboard. In the assessment of understanding section I RAG the students understanding of the work undertaken and those with in the Red section I deal with first in class to ensure their understanding is clear and their learning and move forward. I no longer display this aspect to the class and cover it up; this is just me to help with support students with appropriate in class intervention strategies. Students write down comments relevant to them. To find out more on how I use this, head over to my original post on it here.
Verbal Feedback
This is my most powerful feedback tool, my voice. Before starting an extended piece of work, a project or a summatively assessed piece we feed up by discussing the success criteria, what a good one looks like, what the mark scheme might want from us, what skills will be used etc. Sometimes we discussed work that has been similar in terms of the skills used and think about the challenges faced and how they could be overcome this time around. We do this verbally, usually discussing in groups, with discussion as a class followed by confirmation from me.  Students then start the work and are provided with verbal feedback as they work through it, this might be from myself or their peers. Simple discussions of where the work is going and how it could be improved. It’s timely and purposeful. Verbal feedback isn’t just given for extended pieces of work but also those little tasks, usually in the form of discussions of clarification. The last verbal approach is feeding forward, whereby students and I discuss as a class, individual or in groups the successes and potential improvements for future work, students discuss the challenges they faced and may then make note of their reflections in their books for future reference.

Well there’s a guide to my feedback toolkit, I hope this post is of some use to you.

What approaches make up your toolkit? Feel free to share your ideas.

Kind regards,

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