Toby French on “Marking and assessment are not the same”.
Why do we think marking is so important?
- We care. Read what students are writing, but it isn’t always necessary to mark all of it.
- CCTV for senior leaders – but like a CCTV camera, this shows only some things, not all.
- We’re in a terrible marriage. Apparently Didau has now changed his opinion on his “Marking is an act of love” catchphrase (for the record, I haven’t) – it’s a loveless marriage. We are trapped by it.
- We talk about marking: it is part of our everyday teaching chatter.
Marking takes a huge amount of time. It over-complicates teaching. It’s too much about making evidence for the teacher and often confused with feedback.
We discuss the different between marking and feedback amongst ourselves. I mention that I gave up marking classwork as a matter of course a few years ago, with no discernible negative impact, but that it feels odd to be doing this in my new school because the students are expecting it.
Other responses: it’s a territorial pissing contest. One says verbal feedback has to be recorded on the VLE for parents to see it. Toby shares details of a marking scrutiny that he has experienced, that was followed up with a league table of staff, published to all staff.
Who are we marking for?
Toby asks us to discuss what we should do before to ensure students do the work better to start with:
1. Add comments from a piece of work to a spreadsheet and display next time you set the task.
2. Set success criteria with the students (very TEEP).
3. Have a checklist of the key things needed in a piece of work and have them tick them off as they do them.
4. Have pre-agreed expectations and refuse to mark a piece until those are met.
5. ‘What’s wrong with this?’ – write WWWT? next to the work: students have to figure out the answer.
6. Live modelling an answer.
(I missed a couple of these, sorry).
- Scaffolding – ask a series of questions to help students move themselves on; occasional sentence starters or key words (thinking of Rich Kennet’s ‘This is not surprising’ in sourcework)
- Common misconceptions
- Pre-highlighting – ‘I hope you’ve mentioned xyz…’ before they hand it in.
What does Toby mean by feedback? It’s teaching: wandering the room and giving them prompts and help; asking the right questions; facilitating their discussion.
A practical tip: if you start with a lesson question have three colour coded answers on the board at the end of the lesson and ask students to choose one and display the corresponding page in their planner.
Another one: Toby’s take on dot marking – a red dot means you do the blue target, a blue dot means you do the green target and so on. At the top of the ladder you get a written target. This would solve the problem I have with coloured dot marking: once students (think they have) finished their target, they don’t know how to improve further. My coloured dots are a bit more bespoke because they cover content and skill but it would be good to think of a way to combine these things.
Whole class marking: there are several people writing about this at the moment.
How can you promote this? Show its efficacy in your own subject: build a system and show how well it works.
- Create a whole school marking policy (wince…my successful trial of doing DIRT with a purple pen led to a whole school policy that was firmly laid at my door when my old HoD did my leaving speech in July. In my defence, I never advocated it for outside of Hums. Sometimes these things just seem to take on a life of their own.)
- Create more work for anyone.
- Ask students about marking.
- Think you care more than others.
- Think you don’t care as much as others.