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Marking classwork and homework

(13 Posts)
Chlot Tue 15-Jul-14 22:32:54


I appreciate this is probably terrible timing with the end of school on the near horizon but I wonder if any teachers can help me. I am starting my dissertation for a psychology masters and am interested in the subject of how students (particularly teenagers) respond to feedback on their school work and efficacy of feedback methods.

Can anybody update me on how this is generally done now (my own children are preschoolers and it's been a long time since I was in school).

Is it still ticks and crosses and small comments on the classwork/ homework itself. if so, what colour do people generally use and why? Is verbal feedback given and what form does this take? Are there any guidelines and any personal preferences for giving feedback? Has anyone found any particular method better for particular personality types - can feedback method vary with this in mind or is it the same for all?

thank you very, very much for your time,


lecherrs Tue 15-Jul-14 23:36:47

I only teach A level, so I don't know if my answers are relevant to you. However, we have just done our quality circles and got quite good feedback on the marking we do.

All students have their essays marked, and a top sheet is used. The top sheet basically breaks down the requirements of the grade descriptors into the constituent parts (use of key terms, knowledge of scholars, understanding of key concepts etc) and for each criterion, the sheet is highlighted to see whether they are at level 2/3/4 on the mark scheme.

At the end of each assessment objective (there are 2) there is space for comments. I usually comment on something that has been done well, and something that they could improve on (this received good feedback in our QC).

Then at the end of the sheet, there is space for a few targets to be set. This is something that I want them to work on for next time, like to include more key terms etc.

Throughout the essay, I will also annotate. I tick furiously at very relevant point, so a good essay is full of ticks, whereas if they waste time on background info, it will be a passage that is blank of ticks, because there's nothing of value there. The students quickly learn to see where all the ticks are congregated. If they do write wrong passages (eg put Ao2 in Ao1), then I do cross through their work and explain why in the margin.

When we give back the essays, we do try to briefly talk through their essays with them. The students often say they would like more verbal feedback, but it is hard to fit this in, because to talk to very student individually essentially costs us a lesson.

Oh, and I do have a sticker system, which bizarrely the students really like. When my colleague introduced it, I laughed and said the students wouldn't want gold stars, (as they're all over 16), but bizarrely we have had really good feedback from it, and they get really excited about stickers, so now there's a whole range of them from smiley faces, coloured stars, gold stars and for amazing work they get a special "Lecherrs thinks this is excellent" sticker. We've had stickers a few years now, but it still makes me laugh when I see 18 year olds getting excited over the fact they have got. Sticker!

And the last thing, I am very clear with the students that essays are all part of the learning curve. Nothing counts until they sit the exam in May, so they should use their essays to try out stuff, make mistakes, and improve. I mark from the mark scheme from day 1, and some students do find that hard, as they start off getting Es (and that's with having their first essays scaffolded for them), but I am very clear, that over the year they haven't just got to learn the subject, they have also got to learn how to write an AS essay too. It's all part of the learning curve. Some students (particularly A grade GCSE students) can struggle with this, even though I constantly reassure them that it's all part of the learning process, and nothing counts until may. Over the course the year, they will write 10 essays for me and my colleague (one for each topic they study) and then they do 2 mock exams. All essays are written in class in timed conditions (with help at the start of the year).

AntoinetteCosway Tue 15-Jul-14 23:48:20

Schools have varying systems. In my last place we didn't use grades at all, only comments. (Although obviously this wasn't true on assessments.) This was because we found that if we used both, lots of children only looked at the grade and ignored the comments, with all their constructive feedback! The school I worked at beforehand used grades but they weren't A-E (or whatever), they were letters corresponding to different words, so E was excellent, G was good etc. At that school we had to mark in green and in the first one I mentioned it had to be in pencil. (I hated the pencil-useless when it comes to revision and it's faded.) Personally I think the colour really doesn't matter that much although I do tend to avoid red as it does have negative connotations.

My own policy is to mark whatever aspects of a child's work most need marking. So a real high flier would get lots of margin comments about extending evaluation/analysis, with spelling errors underlined but not corrected as I would expect him to look them up himself, while someone who really struggled with lots of SPAG mistakes might get all the tense errors corrected and all the spelling mistakes of a particular type corrected, but nothing else because it can be a bit soul destroying to see your work covered in a teacher's pen. (I always point out which errors I've concentrated on and switch them around with each piece of work so they do get regular feedback on everything, but just not all at once.)

I don't tend to use ticks and crosses unless it's something like a spelling test.

Especially lower down the school (years 7-9) I always make sure comments require the children to go away and DO something-so it might be something simple like 'write out this spelling three times' or something more extensive like 'read this article about point X'. I don't want them to just shove their work in a file and forget about it so the comments are useful as a way to get them to consolidate an aspect of the learning.

Chlot Wed 16-Jul-14 16:14:52

Thank you both, it is very useful and also interesting that there's real effort and thought going into giving constructive feedback - I especially like that stickers are so popular!

If there are any more comments or interesting insights, it would be great to hear them.

Thanks again


HettyD Wed 16-Jul-14 21:38:03

We have stickers that give ticks for both effort and attainment, then we give a www comment and ebi. The most important part though in my opinion is giving it back (preferably without grade to begin with) allowing them to digest your comment and then offering their response. Try to read Hattie on the subject and look up DIRT time for more in this. I spend a lot of time at school leading on this so if you want more pm me! Hope this helps, Hetty.

knitknack Wed 16-Jul-14 21:41:18

Charlotte there's SO much work out there anout this - google J Hattie or Dylan William (no 's') or ANY edu. Masters work. AFL and marking is practically all anyone's talked about at our school for about 5 years now!

Happy36 Wed 16-Jul-14 21:47:08

I teach English. In Years 7 and 8 I tick accurate work and write comments during the work and at the end where I say what has been done well and advise how to improve. I also correct all spelling and punctuation. If a punctuation or grammar error is persistent I write something about it at the end too to explain how to correct this in future. Students have to copy out spellings correctly and also tick any grammar feedback to show they've read and understood it. They are also encouraged to write a response to feedback.
About every 2 weeks we'll do a form of self or peer assessment or both which are very specific e.g. pick out the phrase that creates tension most effectively.
About every 3 weeks they do a reading or writing assessment for which I give them an NC level.

Happy36 Wed 16-Jul-14 21:51:53

In Years 9, 10 and 11 I mark similarly except all pieces of writing are graded (not notes/worksheets/quizzes) with A, B, C etc. according to the relevant GCSE mark scheme.
Also I will create a ppt of say the 10 most frequent errors made by the whole group then their work is marked with numbers from 1 to 10, in class I show the ppt and they have to copy down what the numbers they've got mean.
little or no peer assessment at this stage as no space in the timetable

Happy36 Wed 16-Jul-14 21:56:05

AS and A2 marking is very personal depending on the task and the student's effort and potential as well as their target grade. Past papers I give the marks for each section explaining what they're for (i tick each markworthy part of the answer) and why they haven't earned other marks and suggest how to improve. Often these students email work to me and email back the feedback. If the piece of work is an essay or exam. question I will invariably go through feedback with them verbally at some point too.

I always mark in red.

SixImpossible Wed 16-Jul-14 22:01:07

Something that has changed since we were kids (and which drives me nuts) is that they have switched around the colours. When we were kids, red was negative, green was positive. Nowadays we have 'tickled pink' and 'green for growth'. I get a shock when I see my dc's work, they OTOH are delighted.

But in 2ry they mostly don't bother. Some teachers change colour for different aspects of marking. It doesn't seem to make much difference to my dc.

noblegiraffe Wed 16-Jul-14 22:55:41

There's supposed to be an ongoing dialogue in marking. We are supposed to write helpful comments to improve and the kids are supposed to respond to our comments with their own comment, action any corrections etc.
We mark in red, they respond in green.

phlebasconsidered Thu 17-Jul-14 17:45:13

My last secondary post was teachi9ng GCSE and AS/A2, in a humanities subject, and I was given free rein in marking. I loved it. I marked depending on task set, and set specific exam questions, and marked accordingly for those ( I am actually an examiner as well). Otherwise, I responded as was needed. Sometimes my notes were longer than the essay. Other times, not so much. I used marking ladders a lot, and often gave out the mark schemes alongside the returned work.

I am now primary and it's SO different.
Next Steps all the time, SPaG, every time, and peer marking at least 4 times a week for every topic, with www / ebi. If anything, it's over-marking, to my mind.

I think it must come as a severe shock for students to go from Year 6, where only so many words are picked out in error, only so many faults, and every marking has at least one NS, to secondary, where it's a whole new ballgame.

Chlot Mon 21-Jul-14 19:28:54

Thank you so much everyone. Really helpful and thank you knitknack for the references which are particularly interesting.

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