Teaching and Learning Bulletin

Issue 9

Last issue, we focused on how to develop more productive use of peer assessment by moving towards peer critique. This issue we'll look at teacher feedback; what works well and how to ensure students actually do something after reading your comments.

I'm drowning in marking - help!!!

It doesn't matter how long you've been teaching: marking students' work always takes longer than you thought it would. It sits there gathering dust while you chastise yourself for not tackling it before. Marking can sometime feel like an add-on, something to get through after you've taught a series of lessons. However as Stephen Lockyer, a.k.a. @mrlockyer, states in his blogpost, marking should happen before the planning. Without marking, how will you know how to adapt your lessons?


His top tip is to set tables out in a horseshoe for half a lesson. He sits in the horseshoe with the students and everyone has one minute to find one thing to change or comment on after reading the work. By the end, he has commented on every student's work and got a good flavour of how his class is doing. Plus, students have lots of other comments to consider from the class.


For other great ideas like this, read the full blogpost: http://www.classroomtm.co.uk/marking-is-broken/

All the work I'm marking features the same mistakes - I keep writing out the same target for improvement!

How frustrating is it when you're making a class set of work and they keep making the same mistakes. After you've written the same target out for the fifth time, you can't help but think there's got to be a better use of your time. Well, there is! It's called 'Taxonomy of Errors' and it comes from Kevin Bartle, a.k.a. @kevbartle; in his blogpost for his school, Canon's High School, he discusses using a system where he reads the work to see the patterns in errors. From this, he divides the errors into basic, intermediate and advanced.


Once you get you've collated your errors, you can number them. Write this number at the end of their work and then display the errors on a slide. The students can see what level of errors they are making and carry out a follow-up task linked to their error. Much more time efficient and useful!


For more detail on how 'Taxonomy of Errors' works, read his full blogpost: http://canonsbroadside.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/using-taxonomy-of-errors-to-enhance.html

I've marked their work but they never do anything afterwards - I spend so much time marking, but for what?

One approach to making students act upon their feedback is to not write comments but to pose questions for them to answer. So instead of saying 'You need to include more evidence' at the end of the work, choose a part of the work where the student hasn't given enough evidence and pose the question 'What two extra things could you have referred to here?' Students then respond to these numbered questions when they get their work back from the teacher.


David Didau, a.k.a. 'LearningSpy, refers to this as dialogic questionning in his blogpost 'Making feedback stick'. For more details on this approach to marking, read his full blogpost: http://learningspy.co.uk/2012/07/16/getting-students-to-act-on-written-feedback/

What if I want students to think for themselves about their own strengths and weaknesses?

One technique that works to engage students in deep thinking about their piece of work is to use two coloured highlighters: one for strengths, the other for areas that need improving. Give students the success criteria for the work and ask them to write their own comments based on what the teacher has chosen to highlight.


After, students can move onto another task whilst you check their comments. You can follow up with a quick post-it note identifying if they're on the right track or not.

I've got three year 8 classes all doing the same task - what's a quick yet effective way of marking their work?

Decide on the success criteria and then make a table with the columns 'fully met', 'partly met' or 'not met'. Tick the appropriate column. At the bottom of the table, write one thing you want the student to change or add to their work to improve it.

What role can technology play in improving the way I give feedback to students?

Now we have iPads, you can experiment with the way you give your feedback. This following technique works best with work that is being drafted and will require editing and redrafting.


Take a picture of their work using your iPad; this will save to your camera roll. Open up Explain Everything app and import the image of their work into the frame. Press play and record your audio feedback, making use of the annotation tools to draw their attention to key parts of their work.


Students then watch your video; after, they keep a written record of their teacher's feedback. They then make the necessary changes in the next redraft.