Marking students’ work and providing them with feedback to relay to them how they are performing is crucial to their own personal development. It also lets them know how they can improve their performance, helps you when planning future lessons and log results for reports. However, as well as being important it is also time-consuming, but it can be economised so that you can save time whilst still managing to maintain the same level of constructive feedback.
Colour coded marking
Create a colour-coded feedback sheet and display it clearly in your classroom so students can familiarise themselves with the structure. Highlight with certain colours that indicate, grammar, spelling, chronology etc and then use these when marking students’ work. By doing this, the laborious task of chronicling every error will be greatly reduced. This process also puts the onus back on the student to correct their work and therefore learn from their mistakes.
This is not about asking a student to grade their work but for them to compare their work to clear criteria and determine how to make improvements for themselves. If they are given a rubric of the criteria desired they can evaluate to what level they have met each point and where they can make positive changes.Taking the time to teach students how to self assess effectively reduces the pressure for you and students still receive feedback. It also encourages them to be autonomous and think about their work more critically.
Similarly to self-assessment, peer assessment does require a level of teacher support at first, but once mastered is a useful tool to both you and your students. Ask your student to swap their work with a peer of a similar ability to review and feedback on. Give them criteria in which they can assess if the work was successful, then ask them to write statements starting with ‘what worked well’ or ‘even better if’. One great method is the ‘Ladder of feedback’ created by David Perkins of Harvard University. This will give them a clear method in which they can feed back to their peer. This sets out four areas of progressive peer assessment.
- Clarify - ask questions of clarification about the work being reviewed.
- Value - comment on the strength of the work.
- Concerns - comment on your concerns about the work.
- Suggest - make suggestions for improving the work.
Establish an agreed success criteria at the start of the piece of work. This will normally be a few key points that the students have been made aware of in class and will cover key learning areas. For example, if they are reviewing a poem then the success criteria might be; write about the author’s intentions, write about the affect on the reader, alternative interpretations etc. Then put these into a grid under the column success criteria with adjoining columns labelled ’Yes’, ‘Partially’ and ‘No’. The boxes in these columns should only be big enough for a tick or small comment. This way as you are reading through their work the grid can be filled in as you go. Below you should have boxes for a comment and a target as to where you would like their learning to progress to.
Don’t mark it to death
Overkill doesn’t help anyone. Staying up all night until the whites of your eyes are as covered in as many little red lines as your students’ work is only going to lead to them feeling like they’ve failed and to you burning out. When it comes to marking, less is more. Try and focus on the key point of the work and stick to that. Make the outcome clear before the work is set so you can mark accordingly. This way you will save yourself time and feedback is succinct, easily digestible and related to the initial intended learning outcomes.
Isn’t knowing that you’re acquiring knowledge reward enough? Not in a world of emojis, likes and re-tweets. So in the absence of being able to text ‘=)’ to the deserving child, use stickers, draw smiley faces and read aloud noteworthy sections of your pupils’ work or reward them with the rumoured ‘double tick’. These are quick to relay and resonate well with students. Writing detailed and indepth feedback is necessary but not for every single piece of work you receive.