Does ‘live marking’ make life easier?
Looking around the internet (and of course Teacher Toolkit!) there are lots of tips, techniques and ideas for making your marking life easier. As teachers, we can easily become swamped in the theories and policies that are constantly changing and being updated, sometimes for no real reason.
This year I have decided to pick one marking technique that I am going to faithfully stick to, with the theory being I will then have some concrete evidence for whether it has been a success or not. The technique I have chosen is live marking; there are already hundreds of blogs and articles written about this, which I have attempted to wade through.
The Pros of Live Marking
Here are my pros and cons of the method which will take me through to the far-away land of mid-July…
1. It provides fantastic evidence of AfL in the classroom!
If ever you need to show that you are responding to students’ learning, mark their books in the middle of the lesson and then adjust your teaching accordingly. It saves you sticking to the plan of a lesson that children are not understanding and then having to teach it all again the next day.
2. It promotes rich dialogue
Live marking encourages you to talk to students on an individual basis and find out how their learning is going. You may pick up on a child who has floated under the radar, or find a mis-conception that can then be shared with the rest of the class. Children love to have individual time with their teacher and will appreciate every moment!
3. It prevents disaster!
Live marking prevents that awful moment when a child opens up their book and finds they have got the majority of the activity wrong. You can stop this by nipping it in the bud quickly and moving them to a focus group/introducing a mini-plenary or perhaps setting them some homework for extra practise.
The Cons of Live Marking
1. It is time-consuming
Live marking gobbles up time and it is very challenging to get around a whole class within the confines of a lesson. Sometimes I find myself armed with a pen circling tables just to get everyone’s books marked before the bell rings. Is this helping the children or is the quality of marking suffering as a result?
2. It’s never-ending!
When you live mark a child’s book, they will usually respond to the feedback pretty quickly. Should you then be responding to that feedback again? Does the child then respond to the feedback from the feedback? Could this go on forever?!
3. It’s not perfect
To link to the first point in this section, live marking does give an advantage to the children whose books you manage to mark; for those who missed out, they have to wait until the next day to receive their feedback. Children may feel less appreciated if you haven’t had the time to talk through how they are getting on with them.
You could argue that the time I’ve spent marking would have been better used on teaching; this is a valid point, but my hope is that by giving feedback to each child on the spot, I will empower them to move their own learning on and set their own challenges.
I do get a warm feeling in my stomach when I’ve managed to live mark a whole class in one lesson. It makes me feel that I’ve responded to their learning and have hopefully moved them on.