When I first started investigating marking and feedback, I never thought it would change my practice the way it has.
During my PGCE and NQT years, I used to mark books, write a ‘what went well’ comment and an ‘even better if’ comment, then expect my students to read it, set themselves a target and act on that target at a later point. The likelihood of my students actually acting on or even learning from the feedback was pretty much non-existent. They’d read it, write down a “next time I need to…” and then simply forget. For me, marking was simply a tick box exercise I felt I had to do. For students it was an unnecessary activity that added little to their learning experience.
Now I guess I plan around feedback. I think about what I want my students to learn over time and plan backwards. I plan what I will teach and how I will teach it over time. I carefully consider what I will model, what I will scaffold and what I will feedback on. Feedback will then influence my planning.
Here’s an example of how I’ve planned backwards to help my students to progress forwards.
- Students started the topic by completing a description that required them to fill in the blanks. This modeled what a good description looked like. Students self-assessed their answers after we went through the correct response as a class.
- Next they use that exemplar to write their own as shown below.
- Next students created their own description and explanation with the use of success criteria which was provided on the whiteboard. Students peer assessed using ACE peer assessment and then made improvements shown in pink. I then assessed their completed work against the shared success criteria.
- A lesson later they used what they’d learnt from the previous lesson to write an unsupported answer to a question. You can see that this student has taken on board the feedback they’d previously received to give a ‘perfect’ answer.
- Following on from description and explanation of patterns and trends, I wanted students to be able to use research effectively. I planned a lesson whereby I gave students the relevant information in a range of resources and they had to take notes. I went through a few examples of how students could take notes before letting them loose on the resources.
- To follow this up they then completed a homework task which required them to summarise the information they’d collected using the description and explanation skills previously covered.
- Next stage involved exploring effective research and academic honesty. Students were given the task to create an infographic to explain the cause and consequences of the One Child Policy in China. Students were given a range of sources to use, they had to cross-reference the sources and assess the reliability and effectiveness of each.
- The feedback they then received on this piece helped them to develop their research and investigation skills which would make up a part of their summative assessment.
- Next students developed their evaluative skills by exploring the three gorges dam and assessing the social, economic and environmental sustainability of it. This started with one lesson on collecting information, the next lesson writing their evaluation before peer assessing and making improvements (pink pen).
Throughout this process and up until this point I’d used a variety of feedback strategies including live feedback, whole class feedback (from me to my students and from my students to me) and reviewed their books noting down any misconceptions or areas to develop, all without actually having to do much marking myself.
Feedback has been embedded in my planning to ensure students get feedback so they know that what they’ve learnt is correct and I can assess what I need to do next to support individuals.
What I learn from feedback then feeds into the support I provide students, it helps me to review specific content with my classes and to undo any misconceptions. The feedback feeds forward into my planning.
- Students brought all of this together by then finally producing a piece of work on life in modern day China and assessing the sustainability of modern-day China.
- Each piece fed into developing their skills for the summative assessment. The summative assessment then feeds into what they will do in future topics.
- Finally following feedback students reflect on the skills and knowledge they gained through the topic. They’re encouraged to consider their targets and progress through the course of study and reflect upon the implementation of the feedback in the summative task.
- After summative feedback they set themselves targets to take forward.
Throughout the entire process I’ve think about what I want my students to be able to do and know by the end of year 13.
In this case I know it seems a long way off when they are in year 8, but I feel it’s all working toward what they need to be able to do once they leave compulsory education if they are to be successful life-long learners.
What my students learn through this unit, both skills and knowledge, they take forward into the next.
Teaching backwards and embedding feedback into my classroom practice has been revolutionary in terms of what I can get my students to achieve. It’s changed the way I plan lessons completely and has enabled my students to make excellent progress whilst I no longer have the marking workload.
For further reading on feedback and teaching backwards I recommend the following books
- Outstanding Teaching: Teaching Backwards by Andy Griffith and Mark Burns
- Visible Learning: Feedback by John Hattie and Shirley Clarke
- The Feedback-Friendly Classroom by Deborah McCallum
Hope you find this post of use.