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How do you stay on top of marking?

Discussion in 'English' started by kirby42, Feb 17, 2020.

  1. kirby42

    kirby42 New commenter

    NQT here.... I've gotten better in a lot of areas since September (still room for improvement), but marking is still something which fills me with dread. I've got a year 8, 9, two year 10s and a year 11 class. I try to mark one class's books a week, which probably isn't enough, but I feel that any more would leave me working well into the night. Do you have any routines or tips that you can share with regards marking in English?
  2. pianopete

    pianopete Occasional commenter

    Mark as much as you can during the lesson and plan things to be self/peer marked where possible. Things like quizzes etc. are useful for that. Even written work can have some peer/self marking if you have good success criteria. Check homework and put stickers on it by circulating during the lesson while another task is going on. Use the "red dot" as you circulate where a student needs to improve and get them to make the improvements. I'm also a big fan of pointing at something and seeing if the students knows what to correct. Also use modelling, the visualiser etc.

    If you're doing more extended work then the strategy I use is to take the books in open at that piece. I then read all the work (without really making any marks on it - although sometimes I circle or tick something) and put reward stickers on it if appropriate. I then do a sheet for myself with names/extracts of good work (for modelling/celebration), common errors, areas to reteach/develop and any SPaG errors to teach again. Although students sometimes moan that I haven't written on it, they soon get used to it, especially as they get more regular feedback on their work. It probably takes me a quarter of the time to simply "read" the essays rather than mark each individually.

    Of course, we still have to mark formal assessments but these don't occur as much and we tend to go for a tick/code approach rather than extensive written comments. Again, after these we tend to do class feedback on common errors and show a few good examples.
    tb9605 likes this.
  3. roamingteacher

    roamingteacher Established commenter Forum guide

    What are you marking and why?
  4. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    Excellent advice from Pianopete above. Marking in class saves so much time and is very effective.

    I also massively second the Peer Marking bit. Train your classes on this. Provide them with a checklist for a piece of work and have them give their students a WWW, EBI and DIT at the end from a list you provide of potential comments. I've found students can get incredibly accurate this way and, as an added bonus, it means they really get to understand what the assessment objectives mean in practise. Then, if it's marked, it's marked - you don't need to do any more. (Quote Tharp and Gallimore "following Vygotsky, it doesn't matter who assists performance, so long as performance is assisted and achieved" to anyone who questions why students are marking books and not you).

    When you do mark, I advise typing then printing your comments. Because, you'll probably end up writing variations on the same thing. So, if you are typing your comments you can just copy/paste. Saves loads of time. Hand them out and get students to stick them in.

    Even better, identify the 3 or 4 common issues arising. Put these on a powerpoint slide, numbered 1 to 4. Then write the relevant numbers in the students' books. Next lesson, have students copy down the feedback themselves off the slide. Saves you writing loads and guarentees the students actually READ the feedback!

    Finally, don't mark everything. I tend to mark assessment and the one or two dry runs at assessment-style tasks the students do in the weeks beforehand. That means the students go into the assessment knowing their strengths and weakness, and with some concrete targets to work on.
  5. rachelsays

    rachelsays New commenter

    Lots of excellent advice above.

    The key questions are, as roamingteacher asks, what are you marking, and why? If you're just marking for the sake of it or to tick a box, then you're wasting your time. Marking needs to be strategic otherwise you're never going to get to the end of it and it won't benefit anyone. Marking class work, unless it's live marking in the lesson, is utterly pointless in my opinion and I never do it. All I mark is assessed work. I do a lot of questioning and walking around in lessons to be able to correct misconceptions, redirect thinking and improve vocabulary/punctuation while they're in the process of doing class work, so I feel no need to physically mark this in their books afterwards - what would be the point?

    To cut your marking down you need to only mark what is truly useful to the students to be marked - normally this will be work that is going to tell you how well they've mastered particular techniques. For KS4 and KS5 this will normally be essays, and for KS3, it might be a piece of creative writing, or a short piece of literary analysis. At KS4 and 5 I probably mark an essay every two weeks - this might become more frequent as we get closer to the exams - and at KS3 I will mark something maybe once per month. That's it. You need to be savvy about when you set work and take it in, too - stagger the due dates for the work you're going to mark so that you never have more than one set of marking to do at a time. There's nothing worse than three lots of 33 books coming in on the same day. It feels much more manageable when you've only got one pile at a time to plough through!

    Use codes to cut the marking time - I underline mistakes and write the code for the type of mistake (the kids have the codes stuck into their books), then give them 10 minutes when I hand back their work to correct the mistakes themselves. I also do lots of sharing of best practice in class, getting higher achieving kids to explain to the others how to improve in student-led seminars, looking at examples of other students' work and marking them together, peer assessment, etc, and they make feedback notes on their own work as part of that process. So there's lots of assessment and feedback going on all the time, but the actual physical marking I'm doing is kept to a minimum.
    tb9605 likes this.
  6. streetno9

    streetno9 New commenter

    I'm fortunate enough to work in an environment that has something of a focused marking policy. Over each half-term a teacher is expected to mark a mock-assessment style task formatively and in an appropriate level of detail. The students are then expected to respond to that marking. At the end of the unit the teacher is expected to summatively mark the assessment. What happens in and around these two fixed marking points is very much a what-is-needed approach. We are encouraged to have students peer and self-assess on top of the teacher lead marking.
    From this, I hope you'll see that you need not detail mark every piece of work a student does.

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