Mrs Humanities

teacher . blogger . friend

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

 

 


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My Marking Saviour – The Feedback Grid

Marking and feedback gridsIn the last few months I have fallen in love with the humble marking grid. I first mentioned it in my post on reducing the marking workload and since then have found the time I spend giving feedback through marking has drastically reduced.

Marking grids take a little bit of time to set up – I’ve got it down to about 20 minutes now – but once they’re done you can use them every time you teach the topic.

I’ve made use of them in variety of ways from using them to assess a levelled piece of work…

levelled work feedback grid

… to mark assessments…Assessments marking grid

…as well as using them to make the GCSE mark schemes more student friendly to enable peer assessment.

GCSE graded work

I’ve also tried using them to mark work from several lessons. I simply identified the title of the lesson and used the levelled learning objectives from my PowerPoints/worksheets/lesson plans. Students were given 2-3 level up tasks to complete during a DIRT lesson.

Marking grid over several lessons

They been useful for providing success criteria as well as for peer and self assessment during and at the end of a piece of work.

They’ve also made giving feedback in lessons easier, I use a yellow highlighter when the criteria has been met, pink for improvements and orange if the criteria has been met after DIRT. In addition I highlight or circle in green if I’m giving verbal feedback on what to do next within the lesson.

After all that I’m now sharing my template for your marking pleasure, download it here or from TES.Marking grid template

Feel free to use it as you will, please leave a comment to let me know how it goes.

I hope it reduces your workload.

Mrs Humanities


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Reducing the Workload – Marking and Feedback Ideas

marking and feedbackFor a while I had been considering how to reduce the workload when it came to marking and providing detailed feedback to students on their successes and areas for improvement. I’ve toyed with a variety of ideas over the past two years of teaching; some of which have been more time consuming than expected whilst others were such a flop (I won’t even share those ones).

Current Context

My usual approach to marking is that I identify spelling mistakes of topical key words throughout each piece of work. I use codes for simple things like underlining, adding titles etc. and dots to identify where punctuation and grammatical errors are within extended writing tasks.

I will add comments throughout and provide 1 to 2 questions where I would expect a response to be made during Directed Improvement and Reflection Time (DIRT) as directed through school policy. However to be honest I’ve recently changed this technique as I’ve been faced with two issues. Firstly because books are marked every 4 lessons students have found it difficult to go back and answer questions or improve work from 3-4 lessons ago meaning I’ve had to explain what the task was again in order for them to improve it. Secondly I found that responses were short and lacked detail. I want DIRT to reflect improvements to work and to show progress, so towards the end of last term I decided to try a different approach – I now write several questions/comments or provide a ‘Level Up’ task, pupils then choose one piece of feedback to respond to and work on during DIRT. Sometimes in their books other times in a DIRT sheet This has encouraged a focus on a developing and truly improving work.

Marking is extremely time consuming and want to ensure it has impact on student progress, as I’m sure we all do.

Ideas

Here are a few examples of my efforts to reduce marking whilst retaining effective feedback.

1 // Simple method. Before marking, I’d write a general statement with options for the skills developed in the lesson. After reading the work, I’d simply cross-out the skills that were not applicable and any of the statement that did not apply to some individuals. I’d then write in their target level and highlight the statement/s the student needed to do to progress.

skills based feedback

2 // Another relatively a simple method, but slightly more time consuming.  Before marking I would look at what we covered and write a series of comments usually linked to the learning objectives of the lesson/s. After having read the work I’d use the traffic light system to demonstrate how well they achieved the objective/s i.e. green = met fully, amber = almost there,  red = not achieved. I’d then highlight the statement on how they could improve and progress.

marking and feedback

When I used approaches 1 and 2 it was in my previous school, I’d never even heard of DIRT at that point.  As a department we’d give pupils time to read feedback but if I’m honest little was done to act upon the advice and feedback given. Once a term I would get pupils to read through their feedback and write themselves 2-3 targets on how they could improve over the rest of the term but I felt marking had little impact. The SOW were very intensive and left little time for going back to previous classwork without it impacting upon assessments – if content wasn’t covered, they would have been unable to complete assessments in full. No fault of my previous HoD, she inherited them when she was flung into the role. However this time since I have control over the schemes of work, I’ve ensured that DIRT has been incorporated throughout each term.

3// My third attempt has been more recent was mainly created to support non-specialist staff in my department. However since they both teach split groups with me as the other teacher – I have been left to do the marking.

As you can see I suggested two approaches to my non-specialists. First approach involved the teacher writing the letter and number in the pupil’s book, then during DIRT or as a starter the relevant comments were displayed on the board. Pupils then wrote down the associated comments . The other option was that the teacher simply wrote the comments themselves which was more time consuming for them, but meant pupils could immediately act upon feedback when the time was given.

When I trialled the first approach it worked to some degree, however I felt it took up valuable time when pupils could have been responding to comments and improving their work.

marking code

4 //  My final and most recent approach was inspired by this twitter post from @fiona_616. 

Some kind of marking grid feedback-esk idea had crossed my mind in the past, I’ve used similar for self or peer assessment but I felt it would be too time consuming to create for teacher feedback plus I didn’t know where to start. After see this tweet I felt inspired to give it a go and guess what it was easy. Since I was often writing the same or very similar comments, it has worked out much easier to mark and provide feedback using marking grids.

Already I’ve used them to provide feedback on a variety of pieces of work.

I started with using the feedback grid to provide group feedback for a group project and presentations. Here I highlighted two stars and then one wish.

presentation feedback

Then I used the grid to provide feedback on a levelled task. Again I used the two stars and a wish technique.

Levelled Task feedback

And more recently I used them to provide detailed feedback on end of topic assessments. Here I simply highlighted all that applied in the successes and 2-3 areas for improvement.

assessment feedback LA assessment feedback

In the last week of term 3 my students received their assessments and feedback grids. We spent an entire lesson learning how to peer assess effectively and how to take on board the feedback that was given. It proved to be a very effective lesson.

Initially students started by reading their feedback, the successes highlighted in one colour and the areas for improvement highlighted in another. I highlighted the level they achieved overall, but for some omitted the non-applicable details of the criteria. I provided kind comments for most in the general comments box and for some gave them a question or task to level up on – not needed for the majority though.

Next students passed their assessment and feedback to a friend who then read it and in green pen they made comments on the skills achieved. They then read the feedback I’ve provided and we discussed it. Most felt the feedback was relevant, phew. They then spent time providing kind, specific and helpful comments in the students book.

Finally the work was returned to the student and they created a mind map on the skills they needed to develop or what they felt they needed to do to reach their target levels. I must admit that after the lesson I was humbled and impressed by their comments to one another, not only had they been specific and helpful, they were kind and respectful taking into consideration each others needs, abilities and feelings. They were demonstrating ownership of their progress and when some questioned what the level equates to in terms of GCSE grade they showed a desire to improve.

Here’s an example of a marking grid I have on display in the window (sorry for photo quality). The green pen are the students comments on the skills achieved in this piece of work by their peer.

Example

I’d definitely recommend using marking grids. Although it may appear like more work initially, once you fly through the sets of books it’s totally worth it.

Tomorrow my students are using them to peer assess homework. A winner if you ask me. homework feedback

Thanks for the inspiration Fiona Old.

Hope these ideas are of use.

Mrs Humanities


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Resource – DIRT Sheets

Saturday was a good day, I relaxed a lot and by the evening felt rather creative so I decided to make some DIRT Sheets for Directed Improvement  and Reflection Time.

The idea will be that pupils will be provided with feedback in their books on how they could improve certain pieces of work. Then they will have the opportunity to improve a piece of work during DIRT. They will focus their improvements on one of three key areas – improving their spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPaG), their answer as a whole or trying to improve the level of their response (levelling up as I like to call it).

DIRT Sheets

DIRT sheet

 

I’ve never used DIRT sheets before but figured it would make it easier to demonstrate the work completed during DIRT  as well as making it easier to find the improvements in their books.

At present the school policy is that you leave comments in the books and pupils respond to them every 4 lessons. I find that because I only have my classes twice a week, by the time I mark the work and get it back to them they need reminders of what the task entailed and this usually results in botched attempts at improving it. This way I hope they decide how to improve their chosen pieces of work and it will result in better quality improvements and greater progress over time.

I’ll give it a go and see how it works. Update to follow.

You can download free PDF versions here 

Have you ever used anything similar? Does it work for you?

Mrs Humanities

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgements – Source of the lined paper in my DIRT sheet