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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Using highlighter pens in the classroom is far from a revolutionary idea, so bear with me.
How you use highlighters to make a difference is the point of this blog post. There are many ways you can use highlighters and make them an integral part of your classroom and your children’s peer assessment, self assessment and target setting.
To get a greater understanding of how highlighting can be used in all three key areas of assessment I will break this post into those three sections.
The use of highlighting of key features for the purpose of self assessment is simple. Below is an example of our self assessment tools for highlighting:
The above resources can be used in many ways. The WWW ones (which are already three-way differentiated) can be used after the lesson. The children write 2, 3 or 5 great features of their work and then choose a highlighter for each key feature and highlight an example of it in their work.
The EBI resource is a more interesting tool in many ways. Also differentiated three ways, they help children say what’s missing of what could be improved. They have to highlight areas that can be bettered. A useful tool when the class our working on a first draft or plan.
The use of highlighting for the purpose of peer assessment is certainly interesting. Give each pupil one of the resources below:
Once they’ve been paired they can look at their partner’s work and decide which is the best part and why and which part can be improved, and once again why. They can then choose a highlighter colour for each part and highlight examples of great practice and bits that can be improved.
I’ve tried it out recently and it worked really really well. The children go so much more from this form of peer assessment. Below is an example of what one pupil came up with:
The use of highlighting key features for target setting has to be done in two stages, one at the start and one at the end of a lesson. Give each pupil one of the below resources:
They can then choose 2, 3 or 5 features they’d like to include in their work (the resource comes three-way differentiated). For instance when my class were writing diaries entries they chose which key features they were going to include (first person, chronological order, time connectives, etc) in their diary entry.
At the end of the lesson they can then go back and highlight where they have used each key feature in their work, thus proving they’ve successfully completed their work. If there are any key features they can’t find examples of then they know what to do to improve their work.
So dust off those highlighter pens. They can be one of the most simple and most powerful tools for classroom assessment.
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Acronyms are what makes teaching so much fun. Why waste time saying a couple of words when you can simplify it into an instantly forgettable acronym?
Luckily I am going to introduce a (hopefully) new acronym that you won’t forget and you will fall in love with.
INK is our new term for the central point in our self assessment resources. INK is a special acronym as it has two meanings, depending on your view point. INK stands for either I Now Know or I Need to Know.
INK is such a useful acronym for self assessment, as the children can tell you something they now know from the lesson, whilst also telling you something they’d like you to help them find out next lesson. I really fits into the category of great assessment. It can be used as both a tool for review as well as a target setting guide.
We have made quite a range of INK self assessment resources for you to use in your classroom. Our most popular being our INK labels. Below is an example of one such INK label, click the images to see them in more detail.
We have also created loads of other types of INK labels to help children successfully self assess. They have all been tried and tested and children love using them. They enjoy having the chance to review the last lesson and/or thinking about what they want to learn next lesson. Have a look at some more INK labels below.
You can click here to download all of the INK labels featured in this blog. Give INK a go in your classroom. It’s such a powerful tool for self assessment. There will be many new INK resources coming soon.
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I spent some time recently thinking about how I use a lot of peer assessment in my lessons, but never really use self assessment. I asked myself why and the conclusion I came to was that I didn’t know how to get KS2 children to be really self critical and reflective, plus I also didn’t see any point in self assessment.
I knew I was wrong and I needed to think again. So I developed some sentence starters to help children construct more effective self assessment. The starters have been put on a poster, which you can see below.
The poster is split into three key areas of self assessment. You can read more about these areas on our earlier ‘How to Self Assess’ blog.
The revelation I came to was that with correct scaffolding all children from KS1 upwards can self assess. All they need is clear guidance and training.
It’s the training that takes the time though. Children will, if allowed, say everything is wonderful about their work and nothing can be improved. With help they need to learn that some areas are great, but there is always ways to improve. Once they realised this then they will become more effective learners. I’ve seen the impact recently of children using effective self assessment on a regular basis. They now edit their work as they’re doing it and spot the pitfalls sometimes even before they appear.
The ‘Self Assessment Starters’ poster is a great place to begin with self assessment. Ask them to read their own work and think in their head using one of the sentence starters for each section. You can then move on to them responding in their books to pre-made self assessment sheets with the sentence starters on there. Have a look below for an example: (Click on the pictures to see them in more detail).
Download the ‘Self Assessment Starters’ poster now and start to use the sentences as part of your everyday classroom assessment.
We will be launching loads of new self assessment resources to work alongside the ‘Self Assessment Starters’ poster. They will provide children with more help when they use INK, WWW & EBI when responding to their work. Keep an eye on our blog and our Twitter and Facebook pages for more self assessment resources.
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Assessment is a tricky topic for so many. Its importance is immense, but the use of it sometimes falls short. So the point of setting up this blog is simple – to provide you the teachers with loads of assessment resources and to explain how to use them.
We will start with self assessment, often referred to as the most powerful form of child assessment. Peer assessment can so often depend on the peer providing good feedback (don’t worry I’ll cover that issue next). Self assessment requires each child to be brutally honest and able to reflect upon their own work.
Effective child assessment and target setting relies on you to train your children to be able to approach it in the correct mindset and feel comfortable doing it. Let’s start by looking at the ‘How to Self Assess’ poster:
When starting to use self assessment begin by showing them this poster. Perhaps have a copy on your tables on stuck in their books. Expose them to the ideas in the poster often and let them try to self assess as much as possible. Emphasis that self assessment requires them to look at many aspects of their work. There are three elements to this poster and three elements to all of our new self assessment resources. INK, WWW & EBI are terms I am now using so regularly it’s like they’re new children in the class. Let’s explore them a bit more.
INK – I now know/I need to know: As far as I am aware this is a new acronym. I felt we didn’t have enough in teaching already. It is a great term for self assessment as it tells children that they all know something, but regardless of how able they are they don’t know it all just yet (not until they become teachers). You can use INK in many ways. Get the children to think solely about what they now know from today’s lesson (to highlight that learning has happened in the lesson) or to consider what they still need to know before the topic ends. You can also get them to ponder both what they now know and what they need to know. It’s a strong term to use in the classroom.
WWW – What Went Well: Oh yes our old friend ‘What Went Well’. This is a chance for your children to spot the good features in their work and the progress they’ve made in the lesson. Sounds easy but the older they get the harder they can find it to see the positives. Used in a considered way a WWW can be quite a powerful reflective tool.
EBI – Even Better If: You can ask what went well with out then pondering ‘Even Better If…’. This term is the children’s reflective and forwarding thinking friend. They’ve found what they know or need to know, they’ve spotted what they did well, but now they need to accept they’re not quite at perfection yet. They need to think about the next lesson and the next step. EBI gets banded around a lot, but introduce it and talk about setting goals and targets and they will see how powerful it is.
Hopefully you’ll find this poster useful and feel it can benefit your classroom assessment. This poster is just a start, there will be many more resource coming out soon to support your use of this poster and INK, WWW & EBI. Keep an eye on our blog for many more self assessment, peer assessment and target setting.
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I thought it was time for a change to this blog. Gone are the short updates about the new Teaching Essentials resources.
Now this blog will be used to promote our new self assessment, peer assessment and target setting resources. However it’s not a marketing blog, I will provide you with in-depth information about how to use these new assessment tools. Each new resource will come with ideas of how to use them, occasional photos of them being used in a classroom, and more input about the role they play in your teaching.
Also along the way we will be bringing all the ideas together into one marking system, called 6Step Marking. It’s still in development, but will hopefully be very effective.
I hope you enjoy reading this blog and downloading our new resources.