Marking, like death and taxes it’s inevitable for teachers.
It seems like, from what I’ve seen and read, that every school has a different approach to how their teachers mark and what the school expects from marking.
The basics of what we expect from all schools must be:
1. There is some corrections or recognition of mistakes by the pupils in their work.
2. A comment is left by the teacher, mostly a positive one.
That, to me, is the core of it. I could talk at length now about how to mark and how Ofsted don’t expect loads of unnecessary dialogue, but that’s been blogged about by a few people. If you want that information please have a look at David Didau’s excellent blog post here.
What I want to focus on in this post is what happens after you’ve marked the books. What do you expect your pupils to do when they get their books back.
Below is my ‘Responding to the marking’ poster. Click it to see it in more detail.
I would expect my children to do one of the above five steps after they’ve finished reading my marking. I shall explore each step in more detail now to explain exactly what I would expect.
1. Answer any questions from the teacher: I love to pose a great open question to the pupils. One that opens their minds and makes them think in more detail about the lesson. E.g ‘How could you improve your story?’ or ‘How would you explain to someone else how to use this method?’ I would expect them to answer the question in full sentences. I wouldn’t expect an essay from the pupil, neither now would Ofsted.
2. Complete an extra task: If it were Maths it would be one more question or an extension question. If it were English it would be to rewrite a specific sentence or paragraph, or to correct their spelling mistakes. This would be completed at the start of the next lesson or during a DIRT lesson.
3. Ask the teacher a question: This is a chance for the pupils to ask a question about something they don’t yet understand. It will help inform my future planning or mean I will direct myself, a TA or a high ability pupil to support individual children in finding a response to their question.
4. Explain why it went well or wrong: Firstly it’s ok for pupils to not understand or to have not achieved the objective/target if they have tried their hardest. If they haven’t they can tell you what they are struggling with or try to explain why they fell short of your expectation. If they did brilliantly it’s a chance for them to reflect and tell you what they tried really hard to do or achieve in the lesson.
5. Summarise what you’ve learnt recently: Probably only relevant on a Friday! The pupils can tell you what they’ve learnt in the past week, half term or topic. A quick summary statement after your marking to tell you all they’ve learnt recently.
I would endeavour to ask the children to use a range of these steps throughout each subject and aim for each pupil to have used each step at least once per topic or half-term. I don’t expect unnecessary dialogue, but some form of response which shows the children understand what I’ve written and what their next step should be.
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