Yellow Box Methodology

Reading Time: 2 minutes

How can teachers reduce the day-to-day marking burden?

One of the most useful strategies I’ve been championing for the past 3 or 4 years, is using the Yellow Box (originally from George Spencer Academy) to reduce teacher workload; to pinpoint key marking points for improvement. In this post I offer a short video to explain what it is and why it works.

What is Yellow Box Marking?

I understand the need to use various coloured pens to make marking and feedback more accessible between teacher and student, but as soon as this notion is applied for evidencing and observational purposes, again, schools have lost the purpose of marking; benefiting the observer and not the teacher and student.

How Does Yellow Box Work?

Choose one area of a child’s work to mark. Just one section. Mark it well and in detail and offer sophisticated feedback (verbally or in writing) and no matter what, ensure that the feedback is specific and diagnostic (e.g. see verbal technique = not yet). By avoiding any assessment, students should understand that their work is in progress and by ‘zooming in’ on one area to improve, the Yellow Box focuses students to act on that feedback in a clear and specific framework.

The addition of a new (empty) Yellow Box should vary in size and allow the student to comprehend what work is expected in their redraft / improvements. It also doesn’t need to have a redraft zone at all – the box could limit improvements. Ultimately, the Yellow Box (or ‘zonal marking’ as I now associate the strategy with) is about finding and selecting one area of work the student can fix.

Why Is It Effective?

The student knows where to work and what to target; improvements can be identified much more clearly to help aid student progress. This ensures you are marking for the child – not observers – to reduce your workload with more direct, specific comments. that lead to greater impact. Even if your school does not advocate this methodology, you can still toe-the-line with your own school’s marking policy recorded inside the zone.

Critics may think the Yellow Box is another triple-marking strategy in disguise. I wouldn’t expect teachers to mark the re-drafted version (ever) unless it was for summative assessment purposes. Even then, I’d stick to the original assessment and offer verbal feedback on the improved piece of work. Worse, teachers are beaten over the heads and placed under capability and/or increased pressure to mark and mark and mark. Forget the purple pen of progress, even forget the Yellow Box!

As long as marking is manageable, meaningful and motivational for the student, that’s all the matters – and the Yellow Box is perfect for workload and supporting student progress. If marking fails to do those three things, then you are not marking for impact.

@TeacherToolkit

Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, a simple Twitter account which rapidly became the 'most followed teacher on Twitter in the UK'. He is an award winning teacher and an experienced school leader and as @TeacherToolkit, curated this website you are now reading as one of the 'most influential blogs on education in the UK'. In 2015, he was nominated for '500 Most Influential People in the Britain' by The Sunday Times and one of the most influential in the field of education. He is the only classroom teacher to feature. He is a former Teaching Award nominee for 'Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School in London' and has also written 3 books on teaching. Read more here.

2 thoughts on “Yellow Box Methodology

  • 20th May 2018 at 8:31 pm
    Permalink

    Love reference to the three Ms. I feel this powerful method has been hijacked by the Ofsted criteria for progress over time and inflated beyond manageability. The most recent SLT book scrutiny I participated in measured quality against an unbelievablly complex exemplar of quadruple marking from a grammar school in the South East. The benchmark applied was that anything less than this visible dialogue with students was insufficient. Thoughts?

    Reply
    • 21st May 2018 at 8:45 am
      Permalink

      There lies the issue. Why do we need to prove visible dialogue between student and teacher for observer benefit?! It’s as if we don’t trust teachers to be speaking with their students…

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.