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Teacher comments in exercise books?

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by chelle_b, Oct 31, 2011.

  1. I'm currently trialling a quicker way of comment-based marking. I usually know in advance what the main issues will be with a piece of work.
    Eg simplifying fractions. May well be cancelled but not to their lowest terms.
    In the pupil's book, the work will be peer/self marked in the lesson, I will then use a self-inking stamper that says "To improve I need to..." and then I'll put a number. The following lesson, the numbered statements will be displayed on the board.
    Pupils are given 5-10 minutes to read through the comments, and write down those which correspond to the number in their book. It attempts to make sure that pupils are engaging with the comments and that marking is meaningful.
  2. Giving some lesson time for students to read, and act, upon feedback is crucial. Otherwise the page is turned and things move on.

    One idea I shamelessly pinched from a colleague is the 'Book back task' after a piece of assessed work.

    As I hand back the books I am projecting 3 different activities on the board (or have them on sheets or whatever). Students read the comments in their book which direct them to do one of the 'book back tasks' on the board. These are designed to ensure that students actually engage with the written comments/feedback.

    As others have said it is pointless spending longer on writing the feedback than was spent on the task - especially when they are likely to be read in a hurry and not really followed up by the student.

    As for the concerns regarding peer/self assessment - it is an understandable concern and certainly one that does sometimes occur. When used alongside other forms of assessment it does stand out very quickly and a sharp word with the student involved usually remedies the situation.
  3. I can relate to robyn147 remarks. As a tutor I tend to get a very biased set of students but one thing they all have in common is large, blank spaces in their exercise books where they haven't 'caught up' and self-assessed work that implies they are doing well at maths since they seem to have achieved perfect scores. Even with peer marking students often help out others who consistently get low marks so that their scores improve!
    The logical follow through for most of this is these same students cheat on tests since they need to keep their scores consistent. How do I know they cheat? When I ask them to repeat a question with me they are unable to even start let alone get the answer. It could be argued that they have forgotten what to do between school and seeing me that evening but I don't really think so.
    Unfortunately for these students these 'marks of attainment' go on their record and bear no resemblance to their actual ability.
  4. And, presumably, those will be the lazy little so-and-so's who then go on to do badly in exams ....
    ... whereas, those who do are more likely to be 'successful'
    It's about ownership, is it not?
    In my last 2 years, I completely revised MY workload to meet MY needs - less frequent, less intense marking, more onus on students etc etc and my class results were unaffected.
    I believe that this was because I concentrated everything on what happened in the classroom - the teaching, the communication, addressing misconceptions WITH the children
    Otherwise, I agree with what you said.
  5. Many surveys have shown that if you give grades and comments , people look at the grades and ignore the comments.

    That is what I myself do, when people mark my work.
  6. Sounds like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Don't grade the work so the pupils work harder to improve.
    An interesting idea?
  7. That's an interesting one Guish, and you have my sympathy at being judged in such a way, though you seem to have found a good way through it!

    Professor Dylan William reckons that correctly used, AfL can make a significant impact on grades and seems to have the research evidence to back it up. Naturally, many argue that 'AfL' is what good teachers 'do anyhow' but just how widespread is it, and how many people do more than paying lip service by 'traffic lights' or occasional use of 'mini whiteboards'?

  8. Guish

    Guish New commenter

    Excellent reference Sarah. I goggled Afl and what I read is really compatible with the way I'm trying to teach. In hope it influences my practice for the best. This year, I created student feedback forms and vital feedback from students uplifted my confidence, improved the trust between teachers and students and they helped to improve the teaching experience.

    If you want to have a look at my forum I set up with the help of a few of my senior students,


    I'll be more than happy to share my resources.

  9. Our department policy is the majority of marking is done by the students in lesson (we talk through answers or call them out). We have a 5 term year, and test students twice per term. After each test, we mark the books, leaving a feedback sheet with their test grade, academically what they need to work on to go up a grade, an effort and presentation grade, and a general feedback comment. This works out as around once a month they get test and book feedback. Because we mark in lessons book marking is mostly 'flick and tick', going into more detail where a student is obviously struggling.
    When we mark work in lessons I ask them to show me how well they've done so I have immediate feedback. Before we start a task I ask how ready they feel, confident to try some questions, got the general idea but might need some help, or completely lost - show of thumbs. Then I can give more teacher input or know who will need more help straight away and adjust accordingly. I also rarely call out answers, often asking students to explain how they answered instead, although I need to adjust this as it is time consuming. I also encourage students to try if they're not sure, talk it through, and highlight misconceptions as they arrise, thanking students if they make a mistake because it's useful. So, yeah, we flick and tick, but that's because we'll have gone into much more detail in the lesson, which I feel is much more useful, immediate feedback and correction of misconceptions.
  10. Glad you found the link useful Guish. I really have the feeling that this is the direction in which maths is heading. For years other subjects have concentrated on the 'skills' but it's something that maths has hitherto only paid lip service to.

    A book that was mentioned on here some time ago, and one that I have found very useful, is by Prestage and Perks (lecturers in Education at Birmingham University). Their book on 'Adapting and Extending Secondary Maths Activities' is an excellent read. It majors in simple adaptations to questions to allow pupils to practice questions without going down the 10ticks approach. Much of it isn't rocket science but at the same time it is a great book to read.
  11. saynotoboxticking

    saynotoboxticking New commenter

    My dept expects us to put +, - or = on child's work depending on whether their working at target grade or not.

    A load of *** if you ask me.

    The act of marking itself seems to have a negligible affect, other than a short lived positive response which has a knock on effect on classroom management...

    Students would much rather you spend the extra time doing revision classes rather than having to do the work themselves... trying to explain this to parents or SLT is fruitless though. Even when you get brilliant results that prove the point...
  12. Guish

    Guish New commenter

    I'll definitely look into that, Sara.
  13. Guish

    Guish New commenter

    I understand that perfectly. Both of us are living the same thing. My department expects that each teacher marks weekly all students' works and students put the assignments in files which are checked by parents and head of faculties at times.
    I managed to escape that with arguments and mark every two weeks. In theory, the practice is attractive as you have "proof" that the teacher is doing enough from an administrative point of view. However, research has shown that instruction skills improve the learning process. Too much marking prevents teachers to do good planning.


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