My old system for marking was flawed – too complicated – ineffective – time consuming and
sometimes often unnecessary.
In the profession, there is this (unwritten) pressure that all children’s writing must have written feedback. Almost as soon as the academic year began, I re-orientated myself with my school’s marking policy.
I have managed to successfully adapt my marking routine so that I can fulfil all aspects of the marking policy but in a way that upholds my obligations to the school’s policy, feels humane to myself and supports the children I work with.
September – October: In September I shifted from written feedback to pupil conferencing – with fantastic results for both the children and myself.
Though at this point in the year, I was still marking work with a written ‘V’ sign in each book as I went on my rounds. Registering this in writing (for someone) became extremely irritating and I again looked for a solution.
October – December: New dawn – utopia begins:
- I continue to you provide individual pupil conferences during writing time but no longer mark these with a ‘V’ sign.
- Instead, at the end of each English lesson, I (and the children themselves) provide mutual feedback – reflecting on their successes and areas we have for improvement. I type this up in front of the class and we discuss. Children acknowledge they have received whole-class-feedback by placing a ‘V’ sign in their book themselves.
- At the end of the week, these reflections are printed. They are stuck in and children are invited to add additional comments if they wish.
‘Traditional’ deep marks only now take place twice every six weeks. They take place at the end of these specific weeks:
(a) When ‘vomit’ drafts are finished -these drafts often come in staggered over the course of the week which makes the workload very manageable (this is because of the nature of our approach, ‘Real-Word-Literacy’). As a result of the pieces coming in over the course of the week, I seem to mark them with more enjoyment and give the writing the time it deserves.
(b) When they have finished editing their work – these edited pieces also come in staggered over the course of the week and are often very quickly marked due to the fact the children have proof-read and edited their pieces for themselves.
- All policy requirements fulfilled.
- Children say they prefer live verbal-feedback compared to less useful after-the-event written feedback.
- Backed up by research evidence.
- Children are more likely to remember the advice and feedback given but also they are able to apply it straight away – at that moment. This is evidence of children making progress during a lesson.
The effect of this is extra time retrieved, happiness, climate of being able to talk to children and know them as writers and people and massive stress reduction.
NOTE: Obviously, I appreciate that as a result of your current writing approach you may not feel you have time to pupil-conference your class, that is why you should seriously consider a Real-Word-Literacy approach for writing.
Verbal vs Written Feedback
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