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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A recent debate I had with my colleagues is whether or not you can expect people to mark children’s work in Maths the same way you expect them to mark English work. Can you expect the same types of comment or style of marking? I’d say Maths is a unique beast, one that cannot be compared to English, Science or Humanities. Therefore you cannot expect the same types of feedback in all sets of books.
Let me know what you think about that. Anyway, you certainly can’t set targets in the same manner in Maths as you can in English. You will always need full stops in English, but you might only come across a tetrahedron a couple of times a year in Maths. Day to day, or week to week you cover such completely diverse topics in Maths with sometimes almost no crossover in skills.
So how do you target set in Maths when they have such a limited window of opportunity to reach any such target?
The answer I’ve come up with is two-fold:
1. Give each child a set of ‘I can’ statements which you expect them to achieve by the end of the year. These need to cover all areas of the Maths curriculum and be tied into each child’s end of year target. I have made such a resource, but was made before levels disappeared. So you can take the ideas, but perhaps take out the sub-levels. See an example below (click the image to see it in more detail).
2. Secondly you can use a traffic light system of daily target setting and get the children to record their target and then self assess themselves in relation to their target. Below is an example of the traffic light system, which can be used on an IWB, plus an example of the target setting/self assessment sheet.
The targets you use on the traffic light system are clearly differentiated. You can set three levels of targets for each lesson and either ask the children to choose their target, or direct groups or individuals towards specific targets. The types of differentiated targets you use can come directly from the ‘I can’ statement sheets. They can then tick off the statement on their sheet when they achieve it. Simple!
Here an example of this very simple Maths target setting system and it in use:
Have a go at this way of target setting for Maths. I can promise you it works and it is the least time consuming system. You’ll love it, honest!
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Effective target setting can make a profound difference to your children’s progress. Quite a bold statement, but one I am confident is correct.
The word effective is the crucial word and the one that makes the profound difference. If you can set targets which are clear, realistic and relevant to the child then they will have a great impact. I will explore in this post a few ways of establishing a target setting culture in your classroom which places the role of setting the targets in the hands of the children – and this works from KS1 to KS4.
I have tried many ways of providing children with targets and monitoring their use. The most effective way is one I set up last year when I undertook an action research project as part of my performance management. What I set out to do was to develop a child-led system for target setting. I felt that if you put the majority of the target setting role in the hands of the children then it would have more of an impact as they would be invested in it.
I started by looking at target setting for writing, as it was the most straightforward subject to set targets in and to track. I researched and made a set of ‘I can…’ statements for every sub-level for writing, from 1c to 5a (made before we found out levels were disappearing). Below is an example of one (click it to view it in more detail):
Each child was given a sheet that related to their end of year target. This, therefore, outlined all the steps their needed to take to achieve that end of year target.
At the start of every lesson each child would choose an appropriate target from the sheet (which was stuck in their book). Some of the time I would tell each child which target to choose, most of the time I would tell them to choose a specific target or one that related to a certain feature (e.g. punctuation, paragraphs, etc). Occasionally I would ask the children to look and choose any target that they think is relevant to today’s work.
After choosing an appropriate target the children would copy their chosen target onto a ‘Next step’ slip of paper, which was then stuck under their date and title.
This whole process looks cumbersome, I’m sure, but actually flows really well. The emphasis of it is to make it clear to the children what they need to achieve during the school year so they can reach their end of year target. It’s up to them to make the strides to achieve this targets and it’s up to them to keep track of what they need to do next.
Having clear and appropriate targets set out from the start of the year helps focus the children and make them aware that they need to work hard and make progress. It also helps when it comes to reviewing each child’s progress. The target sheet shows all the things the child has achieved and/or needs to still do to improve. This helps when you have SLT reviews or parents’ evenings.
I would encourage you to set up a system in your classroom where the children are in control of setting and monitoring their own targets. Obviously with the end of levels as we know them, and a move towards other ways of recording progress, having a system where you can clearly show the children the steps they need to take to improve will be beneficial. I’ve found a system of child-led target setting was a powerful tool and I’m sure you would too.
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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.