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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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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“Oh no, we haven’t done any peer assessment for a while!”
How many times as teachers do we realise that we’ve neglected to use any peer or self assessment in our lessons and fear it will reflect badly on us if anyone else finds out?
The issue, though, is finding a way to do regular and effective peer assessment. Solving that issue is something I have been focussed on recently. I mentioned in the ‘How to Peer Assess’ post about using three key areas of peer assessment (WWW, EBI & Next Step).
What I have come up with to help you regularly and effectively peer assess is a ‘Peer Assessment Starters’ poster. Below is the poster, which aims to guide children towards great peer assessment statements. Click the image below to see it more clearly.
Regular use of the sentence starters in the poster can be so powerful. I have quickly found that it really helps guide children towards productive and investigative responses to their partner’s work. Also worth mentioning is that on the ‘How to Peer Assess’ poster it importantly does state that the children cannot just make comments about their peer’s spellings or handwriting, or just say “it was nice”, as this is not going to help their peer improve their work (this is a policy well worth adopting).
I have started to use the ideas from this poster in three ways:
1. Getting the children to swap their books with a peer and then after reading each other’s work they have a conversation where each sentence starts with one of the starters. They can use only one of the three areas (WWW, EBI, NS), or all three.
2. Asking the children to swap books and then write a comment after their peer’s work where each sentence starts with one of the starters on the poster.
3. Copy some of the starters onto a Word document and produce a peer assessment sheet for them to fill in about their peers work. Below is an example of this in practise.
Great peer assessment starts with great guidance. I have found already that the starters on the poster really help guide them towards really helpful peer assessment comments.
The only other concern people have is whether or not the peer assessment will actually have an impact on the children and help them to make progress. To help tackle this area of concern I have also produced a ‘Next Step’ resource for children to stick in their books after they’ve read their peer’s comments about their work and for them to show they are aware of what they need to do to improve. Below is an example of this resource in use.
The ‘Peer Assessment Starters’ and ‘Next Step’ resource are just the start of loads of exciting peer assessment resources we will be launching on this blog. Keep coming back to find more useful assessment tools.
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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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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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