Sunday 14 December 2014

Making Marking Speedy

I've previously written about how I use gel pens to Make Marking Meaningful, however I've tried a lot of strategies since my NQT year to enhance the speed of my marking.  Here are some of the ideas I've tried which work.  As with everything else in teaching, these are used when appropriate in a range of subjects! 

Note: particularly useful in maths or SPAG activities.
On the outside, this is very simple: have some form of answers available so the children can mark the work.  However, how the answers are used can affect the degree of learning taking place.  For example, sometimes children mark their own work at the end of a lesson.  They have time to complete any corrections in gel pen (read why here) and comment on their progress.  Alternatively, they check their answers halfway through the lesson to assess whether they are on track.  They then choose to continue working to become confident, move onto something more challenging or get some help to address their errors.  This ensures that all children are challenged at their own level.  Of course, children can mark each other's work and find errors that someone else has made. Sometimes I make the answers available to children throughout the lessons so they can check any one answer and get immediate feedback.  They find this really useful because they can get help straight away if it is incorrect and an adult or child can talk through the process when it is fresh in their mind.  This means any post-lesson marking can be focused on misconceptions and next steps as all corrections will have been made in the lesson.  

Peer Editing
Note: great for long pieces of writing in any subject.
I discovered this after reading through 31 fairly poor pieces of writing and despairing at the length of time it would take me to mark them.  Having looked through but not marked the work, I went back to my class and explained to them that I had chosen not to mark it because there were so many mistakes.  I felt so harsh but by the end of the next hour I knew I'd done the right thing.  Knowing their two main mistakes - tense and viewpoint (first/third person) - I'd prepared a piece of writing filled with those two errors to be the input of my next lesson.  As a class we read it through, the children realised that it sounded wrong and they corrected the errors.  Then, in pairs, they completed two activities.  Firstly, with no pens in sight, they simply read their partners work aloud back to them, word-for-word.  Both children did this as it was important to hear and realise that their errors were fairly similar early on.  Next, they edited for the mistakes, corrected spellings and improved words and phrases if they had time.  The quality of work I had back in was substantially higher than it had been and it meant my marking time was cut by over 50%.  At the end of the editing process, I asked the children to comment on how they found it.  It was clear from what they wrote that they had got a lot out of it and wanted to do it more often.  Therefore I've added a similar lesson during most long pieces of writing.  

Hold A Pen
Note: Useful in any lesson! 
Make sure you, your TA and any other adults are armed with a pen during the lesson.  Give the instruction that if they work with a child, they should quickly mark their work to get an idea of how they can help.  As a teacher, this means as you verbally check work you can leave a mark to show this and any workings done with you stand out.  This makes tracking progress easier as independent or adult-assisted work is obvious.  I've found children like having their work marked during the lesson if there's time and it's a wonderful feeling to open the next book in the massive pile and find it already marked! 

Note: This costs a bit at first (£5-10 each) but saves so much time in the long run and they last ages!
I have written at length about why I use stampers and which ones are most effective.  Quite simply, they are the one strategy which has had the biggest impact on reducing the time I spend marking.  I cannot recommend them highly enough and I'd encourage anyone aiming to reclaim some of their work-life balance to invest in a few effective ones.  

Note: Particularly useful in grammar activities and English lessons.
As part of the plenary in certain lessons, I ask children to underline in gel pen the main elements of the learning.  For example, if they have be learning to use subordinating conjunctions, then I ask them to underline the ones they have used.  That way I can see if they have used the correct conjunctions with commas if necessary and check whether the words they have used make sense in their sentences.  This sometimes highlights to children they they haven't used any or many and gives them a chance to correct this before the work is marked.  When I come to mark the work, the coloured lines guide my eyes to where I need to look to assess the extent to which children have achieved the learning objective.

Similar to underlining, I sometimes ask children to put a *star* by their favourite sentence, fact, calculation, word problem etc as is appropriate to the lesson.  I explain that I will look at all their work but will mark their favourite in detail.  Likewise, I sometimes ask children to circle any which they have struggled with or which they think are incorrect so I can look closely to help them with those.  Again, my eyes are drawn to the symbols used so that my marking can be completed quicker. 

Note: Useful for presentation errors.
Thankfully we don't have a whole-school marking code which I have to stick to religiously.  I'm not a big fan of long marking codes as children can spend longer deciphering the marking than actually learning from it.  That being said, I do use codes to improve children's presentation; mainly 4 symbols.  T indicates they need to write the title (as required by the school - only 1 or 2 words).  D shows they should write the date. U implies they should underline the title or date and I draw a simple tree if they are wasting too much paper (save the trees!).  These 4 codes take hardly any time to draw, save me writing sentences and ensure the children can understand and respond quickly to presentation errors.  

1 comment:

  1. Great common sense but really useful advice Thanks :-)


Thanks for your comment. All comments are moderated before they are posted so may take a short time to appear on the page.