This is a blog about marking and teacher feedback.
“Great teaching equates to prior learning which is assessed systematically and accurately.”
We all grow as learners by receiving feedback; teachers or students.
This is written for teachers, to make sure that learning is boosted in your classroom by assessing, testing and sharing success criteria with your students. This is not a blog about over-testing students. This is about planning meaningful and timely assessment to help students make progress.
Early on in my teaching career I was sometimes hesitant to test students in my classroom. I dreaded the marking it generated and found myself testing less and less because of growing marking piles! However, I soon came to comprehend the power of giving students ‘a good going-over’ and the importance of assessing learning and providing feedback. But at what point did everything change? What was my tipping point?
As I young teacher, I never really understood the cognitive process of assessment, or the types of testing I was leading in my class. I cannot recall any explicit training I had at university, despite learning about types of assessment, I spent many years setting tests, assignments and providing endless lists of success criteria, without ever, really thinking deep and hard about what and why I was doing it.
Students are hungry to know how they are doing with tangible information. It is our duty to ensure we keep them well-informed. As adults, we have evolved and grown as learners by receiving feedback. This has come to us through a multitude of avenues and experiences throughout our life and by now, one would hope, we can filter and decipher information in order to use what is useful and discard what is not.
At school however, it is assumed that everything we are teaching students ‘is important and should be learned.’
But is this really the case?
I was a dormant learner at school. I have little recollection of my ‘learning’; but I was far more aware of my ‘grades’. The shift in focus from grades to learning is not a recent phenomenon. We hear the phrase ‘rapid progress’, ‘expected progress’ or ‘4 levels of progress’ constantly. But, we rarely hear about the importance of ‘why’ we are learning and ‘how.’
Thankfully, the cognitive aspects of assessment have become pertinent as part of our recent assessment criteria culture in schools. But do our students understand assessment better today, than we did yesterday? And even though we may have a firmer grip as educators/teachers?
Cast your mind back 10-30 years ago (if you can), and place yourself sitting on a chair in a school classroom.
Combating Piles of Marking?
- Attach work to displays around the classroom with banners indicating success criteria.
- Share the success criteria, but as @DebarKidd says, ‘not necessarily the lesson objectives’ every lesson.
- Provide scaffolding templates and writing frames. Try some of @LearningSpy‘s techniques written in my review of his book.
- Encourage students to mark their work through peer and self-assessment. Try @Mroberts90Matt’s advice here and make it routine!
- Ensure departmental time regularly includes marking and moderation opportunities with colleagues. Rarely done, but @LeadingLearner‘s plan here creates powerful dialogue.
Try using The 5 Minute Marking Plan to focus on what should or should not be assessed.
Take it Further:
Ask your students to curate their own self-assessment task for their forthcoming assessment. Give them a selection of options – offer choice and increasing levels of difficulty – so that they feel part of the process. You may want to look at TakeAway Homework and see a model as to how this could be structured.
You can read more here.