Just #Bananas! by @TeacherToolkit

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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In preparation for teachers returning to school after the half-term, this a blog about marking. It’s just bananas!

Despite the title, this blog is not about the marking frenzy I once alluded to. This is a blog about the way we mark and the marking stakeholders.

“Consider using marking to inform lesson-planning.”

Hands up: ‘Who loves marking?’ Err, ok. I’ll move on …

shutterstock Expressive businessman shrugging his shoulders in ignorance or indifference and gesturing with his hands isolated on white

Image: Shutterstock

What is Banana-Assessment?

Assessment does not purely have to be formative or summative. Why not consider this idea of mine; Banana-Assessment!

“For example; write down of all the banana adjectives you can think off.”

Yellow; potassium; energy; slip; skin; mad; deranged; bemused; crazy; daft and so on…

How far can you go to extend the range of synonyms?

When it comes to assessment and marking, we should consider our classroom teacher assessments in this way. How can we approach marking from a different perspective to ease the burden? If we are not too careful, there are many variants which can all lead to a form of madness. We can all become bombarded with the constant slog to assess; tick-and-flick; stamp; add a sticker; provide a comment; constructive feedback; verbal feedback; verbal feedback stamps; share and compare; redraft and redraft again; red-pen? Green-pen? And whatever else we can think of!

The list is endless and starts to become absolute madness …

Just #Bananas I’d say! Agree with me? Tweet it.

shutterstock banana peel on white background food

Image: Shutterstock

What a Waste of Time!

Marking on the whole can be a waste of time if teachers do not focus on quality rather than quality. Why? Well, as my good friend @MrLockyer claims, ‘marking is broken!’ and it rarely benefits the teacher or the student. Stephen Lockyer suggests that it can be fixed and here’s how:


A student expects a reward; then praise to follow; then hopefully some learning.


The teacher uses marking as proof of work; which is evidence of assessment and tracking; and with a bit of luck to inform good lesson-planning.

Although this is a useful approach, I’d say this can be improved further. There is little cognition to inform progress if marking is solely to reward students and act as proof of work to the teacher. We simply need to look at the way we mark and why it aids progress over time.

Who are the marking stakeholders?

  • The students;
  • the Ofsted inspectors;
  • the Headteacher;
  • the parents, and
  • the teachers.

Marking Stakeholders is Broken

Marking is broken!

But of the five stakeholders listed above, who are the key participants?

They are two-fold. The student and the teacher. Agree? Tweet it!

That’s it! Nobody else. How can we maximise opportunities for both to benefit from assessment? Stephen Lockyer says, ‘marking is planning’ and this has transformed my pedagogy. If we use marking to inform our planning, rather than see a lesson, or a test as an outcome to produce marking, we can use the marking to inform our planning; which determines our teaching as a direct result of teachers re-aligning the focus on why and what we are marking.

Consider the very popular 5-Minute Marking Plan which helps teachers approach marking from a different angle. You may also want try to Stephen’s amazing idea: Conveyor-Belt marking! You won’t regret giving either a quick read/try.


Take it Further:

Consider immediate feedback. One-to-one assessment at the front of the class; marking work with them, even if it’s just for 30 seconds… Students will appreciate live-marking; the immediate response and personal attention. Give it a try this week.

You can read more here or tweet it?

Banana fact:

Did you know, you can use the inside of a banana peel to clean and polish leather shoes? It’s also a great way to keep your shoes shiny whilst boosting your metabolism at work!

Just #Bananas I’d say!


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