Tonight’s 15 Minute Forum was led by Kelly Heane (English RQT). Kelly discussed some of the strategies that she has used in her lessons to provide effective marking/feedback. Kelly began by being honest about how marking had initially been a frustrating experience as an NQT. Although at Durrington, we have a flexible feedback policy which allows departments the autonomy to create their own policies, there are still expectations regarding feedback. However, Kelly had found that marking was still time consuming; so she adopted some techniques which allowed her to reduce her workload but provide effective and sustainable feedback.
Kelly wanted to emphasise the importance of feedback for both students and teachers and approached the 15 minute forum in two halves, based upon the feedback loop diagram below.
The first part of the session focussed on the teacher-student side of the feedback loop. Kelly stressed that this needs to be regular and specific so that gaps in a student’s learning can be addressed and closed. This results in informed learning for that student.
Kelly shared the following strategies which she has used in her English classes:
Green Pen checks
The ‘Green Pen’ checklist has been created by teachers within the English department but is completed by students. This helps to promote autonomy and the concepts of self-checking and proof reading. This then leads to students making corrections in relation to key grammar or vocabulary issues and allows the teacher to focus their marking and feedback on the technical detail such as the structure or composition of the writing.
A second technique suggested by Kelly, is to create a set of success criteria with the class before the students begin their extended writing. Again, this allows students the opportunity to check their own work and make corrections before the teacher reads their work. This concentrates the teacher’s thinking on the more technical aspects of the student’s writing rather than more basic elements.
The third technique that Kelly discussed was ‘Live Marking’. Initially, Kelly was sceptical about this as a technique, because she could not see how an English teacher would be able to read everything in a lesson. However, she soon realised that the benefits of live marking are that teachers are able to target specific students. In particular, this helps ‘stuck’ students to move forward in their leaning more effectively, as well as focussing the learning of those students who rush their work by developing their writing more fully in that lesson. Live marking is also effective in identifying and correcting ‘bad habits’ such as not using capital letters or punctuation and addressing these immediately.
The final technique, shared by Kelly, was developing class models. This is where she allows the students to collaboratively construct a model answer. This is effective as it allows contributions from the whole class and allows live ‘editing’ to take place. There is not a single drop of red ink on these pages in the student’s books, however a huge amount of verbal feedback and marking has taken place to construct these models. This is very effective, as it allows for instant comparisons to take place between student’s work and allows students to make improvements to their writing using the ideas of their peers.
The second part of Kelly’s session focussed on the feedback provided by student’s work which then informs the next teaching episode. As an NQT, Kelly engaged with reflective practice by using the following prompt questions:
Whilst Kelly did not use these after every lesson, and is not prescribing these as a written record of the lesson, she did find them useful in evaluating her lessons and helping her to plan the next lesson for those students. In particular, by sampling five or six books from a class, Kelly has been able to identify common misconceptions (such as the incorrect use of apostrophes) within a class. Instead of marking the whole class set and writing the same comment thirty times, this reflective practice meant that Kelly could focus on the important thing – namely improving the student’s learning. Through her reflective marking, Kelly planned a lesson which re-taught the concept and then allowed students the time to deliberately practice that concept. This effectively closed the gap in the student’s learning, but also meant that Kelly did not waste her time marking a set of books in a repetitive manner.
Feedback will take many forms and should look very different between subjects, as each subject has different requirements. However, the key principles of effective marking and feedback are that students improve their learning and extend their thinking and teachers are able to effectively respond to the needs of their students.
Posted by Martyn Simmonds