Mrs Humanities

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Marking and Feedback Survey

I would love it if you could contribute to my marking and feedback survey. I am trying to get an idea of teacher’s experience of marking and feedback for a book I am currently in the process of writing (Yay!).

Please feel free to contact me with any further comments or if you would like to add more on your experiences.


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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.

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.

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

5. 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