Mrs Humanities

Because I'm married to the job.


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Mrs Humanities shares… 10 useful blog posts about feedback

When I first started writing about marking and feedback back in February 2015, it was an issue for many but it was barely on the radar of bloggers and #EduTwitter.

It was a period of research for me and often the main resources I would come across were academic papers or books by the likes of John Hattie, Dylan Williams, Helen Timperley and Doug Lemov. There were a few blog posts I came across such as David Didau, Ross McGill, Geoff Patty and Joe Kirby but on the whole it was barely discussed online. I found myself digging really deep to find relevant (and free) resources to guide and support my practice.

Now though if you look up marking, feedback or even ‘feedback not marking’ in Google now there are a huge number of relevant hits (including mine).

feedback not marking google search

One of the biggest influences on the discussion came after the publication of the Department for Education’s ‘Reducing teacher workload: Marking Policy Review Group report‘ in March 2016 which put marking (and feedback) in the spot light. This along with the evidence provided by the Education Endowment Foundation’s from their work looking into the value of marking and feedback on student progress, it has grown into a regular topic of discussion and more so a movement of change.

I thought I would share a few that I’ve come across that I have found useful for sharing with colleagues within my school and further afield this year.

  1. Marking and feedback are not the same from David Didau. Starting with the basics, this post simply outlines the distinct difference between feedback and marking. Too often the two are seen as a single entity when in fact feedback is so much more than marking. They can often be seen as synonymous when in fact they are distinctly different and must be treated as so. Michael Tidd says similar here.
  2. A policy for feedback, not marking from Michael Tidd
    This post looks at moving from a marking policy to a feedback policy from a Primary perspective with the provision of the policy at the end of the post. Useful for schools taking a whole school approach toward feedback rather than marking.

  3. Insights into assessment from ‘what does this look like in the classroom from Research Schools Network
    This post provides a snapshot into what feedback looks like in the classroom taken from ‘What Does This Look Like In The classroom?: Bridging the Gap Between Research and Practice’ by Carl Hendrick and Robin Macpherson. If you’ve read the book, it’s an insightful read but if you haven’t time for the whole thing this post is a useful summary.

  4. Marking and Feedback recommended reads from Mr Barton MathsThis post effectively recommends a variety of research papers on the topic. Mr Barton highlights his takeaways from each one to give the reader useful insight into whether or not the pursue the article.
  5. Live Marking: Feedback in Lessons from Ross McGill (Teacher Toolkit)
    A 4 minute read on the value and use of live-marking. A useful post for evidencing the value of verbal feedback and how to apply.

  6. Whole Class Feedback & Crib Sheet Handout from Mr Thornton TeachA very short post but it’s the resource that’s useful. In this post Mr Thornton shares a handout he produced for a session entitled ‘How we can use crib sheets to improve marking and develop better feedback’.
  7. Giving feedback the ‘Michaela’ way from Reading all the BooksIn this post the author discusses how they started to implement a no-marking approach. A useful post for anyone new to the idea of feedback not marking. Here’s an additional post from Doug Lemov on feedback at the Michaela school.
  8. No Written Marking. Job Done. from Andrew PercivalThere were parts of this post I highly agreed with, others that I weren’t too keen on such as ticking each piece of work to show it has been checked. Why? Anyway, I think it’s a useful post to support the moving away from written marking and focusing on feedback.
  9. Designing a Feedback (not Marking) Policy from Jemma SherwoodThis post outlines the move from marking to feedback within Maths. I shared this post to highlight the use of Exit Tickets. Personally though I would say these are most effective for Maths and lessons without the subjective nature of assessment, so I tend to use exit tickets for very specific content e.g. names of processes, facts and stats associated with case studies, definitions of key terms etc.
  10. Do You Understand Your Mock Exams? from DI thought this one was an interesting an interesting post about the value of mock exams. For many secondary teachers, mock exams create a HUGE amount of marking but also provide valuable insight into student’s understanding and application of knowledge. But to what extent are they really useful? The argument at the end is rather interesting.

And finally…

Feedback (and marking) links

Just a useful post from NDHS Blog Spot of lots of useful links on Feedback (and marking).

I hope you find this post useful.

Here are some of my other posts on #feedbackNOTmarking

Moving from marking to feedback

Workload reduction

Strategies

If you’re looking for other ideas check out the hashtag (#FeedbackNOTmarking) on twitter for a wide range of ideas for providing effective feedback.

Best wishes,


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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 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