There are too many important things for teachers to be doing for them to waste time on what doesn’t work. This article, therefore, focuses on effective and efficient ways of using marking as feedback.
But what about Ofsted…?
Ofsted does not expect to see unnecessary or extensive written dialogue between teachers and pupils in exercise books and folders. Ofsted recognises the importance of different forms of feedback and inspectors will look at how these are used to promote learning.
“Why then the focus on volumes of marking? …High quality, not truck-loads of ticks. Fewer things, done really well. Mary Myatt, Lead Ofsted Inspector here.
So why mark…?
An open loop control system does not use feedback to check that its output has achieved the desired goal of its input; consequently, it cannot correct its errors.
One OED definition of ‘marking’ is: “notice or pay careful attention to.” By paying careful attention to students’ work we receive feedback on the efficacy of our teaching, “It is the feedback to the teacher about what the students can and can’t do that is more powerful than feedback to the student” [Hattie]. In turn, teacher feedback allows students (not teachers) to correct their errors and improve their learning. To be ‘feedback’ marking must lead to action: “It is considered feedback only when it is used to alter the gap” [Royce Sadler]. The Education Endowment Fund finds that feedback adds 8 additional months to average pupil progress.
1. Reduce unnecessary marking by increasing student understanding
- Model success criteria clearly: Ideas @Improving Teaching
- Increase guided practice: “The most successful teachers… spent more than half of the class time lecturing, demonstrating, and asking questions” [Principles of Instruction]
- Use previous feedback: “once a topic has been taught a few times, we become aware of the pitfalls associated with it. Our initial instruction should improve and, as a result, preempt much of the obvious feedback” @Reflecting English
- Use mastery feedback: focus on 1 or 2 improvement strategies: simple, specific, logical steps which students need to master before moving on. “Specific goals [about how to do a task more effectively] are more effective… because they focus students’ attention.” [Hattie and Timperley].
2. Reduce unnecessary marking by increasing ‘desirable difficulties’
Build in ‘struggle time’ before providing feedback. “Learning happens when people have to think hard” [Coe]. Over-guiding students is less effective than “delaying, reducing and summarising feedback [which] can be better for long term learning than providing immediate… feedback” [Bjork].
3. Match ‘marking’ to feedback
Hattie identifies three types of effective feedback:
i. Task (FT)
ii. Process (FP)
iii. Self-Regulation (FR)
“Feedback aimed to move students from task to processing and then from processing to regulation is most effective. Too much feedback within a level may even detract from performance. For example, FT that provides very specific information about the correctness of the minutiae of tasks and is not also directed to the processing required to complete the task can direct attention below the level necessary for high-level performance.” Hattie and Timperley
Guided Marking Practice Strategies
1. Find Faults and Fix @Learning Spy
2. Gritty Editing @Reflecting English
3. Pre-Flight Check list @Belmont Teach
4. Assessment Frameworks @Love Learning Ideas
5. Layered Writing @Class Teaching
6. Post Assessment Feedback @Class Teaching (no. 8)
7. Supported Redraft @Class Teaching (no. 9)
8. Gallery Critique @Reflecting English
9. Peer Feedback @messylearningdotcom.
Teacher Marking Strategies
1. Post it improvement strategies
Write improvement strategies on post-its transferrable to future tasks. Mastered improvement strategies can be kept in a ‘nailed it’ section of students’ books. Also see feedback plasters @Belmont Teach.
2. Dialogue Annotations
Write annotations in the work from which students create improvement strategies, or write improvement strategies from which students annotate their work.
3. Improvement Grid
4. Marking Keys
- Colours @3 Square
- Target symbols @Reflecting English
- Feedback key
- Highlight areas of work that need to be improved and areas of strength. Students create improvement strategies by analysing your highlighting
5. Error marking @Learning From My Mistakes
6. Burning Questions @My Learning Journey
7. Digital feedback @ICT Evangelist
8. Feedback using mail merge @The Goldfish Bowl
A warning against unnecessary Triple Marking from @Learning Spy
4. Create space for marking
- Plan guided marking practice into lessons
- Use feedback margins or the left-hand page of exercise books for feedback and improvement tasks
- Create a Marking Timetable using the 4 feedback methods
- “Should we mark our books alone?” [David Didau]: Consider collaborative marking.
- “Mark books hardly ever record what the student can do” [Dylan Wiliam]
i. Keep a record of mastery see @Pragmatic Education
ii. Keep a record of error type to inform your feedback