Mrs Humanities

Because I'm married to the job

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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

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.


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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Resource – ACE Peer Assessment

As 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

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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.



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.



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.


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


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.


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


Resource: Feedforward Book Look Record

Following 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