How much time should actually be spent marking books?
Even as I write this, my wrist is recovering from just having marked 30 maths books – that may have been left for more than 3 days – and therefore required a lot of attention. We all have to do it, so why is it still such a pain?
Types of Marking
In my opinion, there are three types of marking:
1.Verbal: Simple, effective.
2. Small Written: Superficial, lazy.
3. Detailed Written: Painful, undervalued.
Now, there are pros and cons to each of the above:
Verbal feedback, whilst quick and normally more meaningful, it can prove difficult in terms of timing. We don’t all have the time to go around 30 children each lesson and discuss their progress.
Small pieces of written feedback tend to stick within the realms of, ‘well done’, or ‘great work – very neat’. It seems to take less time but when added up, it probably takes a lot longer than needed and there is nothing there for the child.What can a child do with, ‘ Good effort’?
Detailed written feedback is physically exhausting. Some schools opt for 2 stars and a wish, some for the sandwich approach of a good, a bad and another good to make them feel positive. I understand why we do it, I just don’t see the value in my classroom.
My issue is that we spend an incredible amount of time every day marking books. We are told that:
*It’s bad practice to take books home, mark them in the lesson instead.
*Use a million different coloured pens.
*Only detailed mark one-in-three.
*If you give verbal feedback, make sure that you write down that you have given verbal feedback.
5 Handy Tips To Help Eradicate Marking Miseries
All of these demands beg one question: Who is this for? Because it doesn’t really seem like it’s for the children.
Use Peer Assessment to your heart’s content
The children love to mark each others work, and why wouldn’t they? My class mark their partners, comment and then receive a response on their marking. It’s good to get a professional dialogue going between them.
Give Feedback Online
If you are using anything like ‘Google Classroom’ or ‘Seesaw’ – which you should be if you’ve read my previous blog on the benefits! Online feedback is the way to go. If a child uploads a piece of work onto the sites, comment on them – ask for a response. Make the learning more digital.
I know that you won’t get through every child in one lesson, but make the discussions that you have with them meaningful. This way, you can see that they are listening, taking it in and not just flicking through their book to the next clean page despite the ridiculously long message that you have left for them on the page before!
Don’t always leave a comment
Sometimes, a simple arrow will suffice for them to realise that they have made a mistake. We are often far too quick to spoon-feed them an answer that they could be perfectly capable of working out on their own! Question throughout, not at the end.
Have a ‘Feedback Page’
I have recently begun to ask the children to leave a page in their books for feedback. This feedback page is a simple yet effective way to conjure up a meaningful dialogue with your student. Ask them a question, give them space to reply, get peers to ask them questions. Soon, you will have a page full of edits, explanations and discussion. This takes next to no time to do and allows you to feedback within the lesson.
If it’s so bad, why are we still doing it?
Marking has always been about connecting with our pupils, regarding where they may have done well, or not so well.
It wasn’t always all-singing, all-dancing. It wasn’t always so complicated. Instead of thinking up weird and wacky ways that we can get our childrens’ attention, just talk to them. Instead of doing everything to make sure that it all goes in the books, think of quicker and more efficient ways to share what you’ve been doing. Isn’t it time that verbal feedback had a higher priority?
You should know what’s best for your kids, if you don’t, they will definitely want to tell you. Communication is key, so don’t lose sight of the purpose of marking!