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How do you mark pupils' work?

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#1 C Freeman

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 08:04 PM

In my school we have just had an Inset on AFL and been told that we must no longer give a mark eg. 6/10 or A9 etc. because the kids don't learn from this. Neither should we give a mark and a comment for the same reason. We now have to give a comment as to how they can reach the next level concentrating on content ,ignoring presentation etc. How do you mark? If anyone uses this method of comment only , does it work?

#2 Rachel H

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 08:18 PM

Can't remember of I've mentioned this here before but we've just moved to comment only marking from an idea picked up on an RE afl course. The pupils get a specific personal comment then a letter from the marking decoder attached. Pupils then write the comment out, giving them ownership, and lots of the comment s relate to targets etc. We think it's working although it's quite early to tell. This might give you some ideas though.

Attached Files

"Everybody lies." Dr Gregory House.

#3 DaveStacey


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Posted 22 October 2008 - 08:35 PM

We comment only mark, and it does work really well. A couple of things to bear in mind though...

We mark key pieces of work with 'how to improve targets' relating specifically to the skills being utilised. From this pupils identify a specific 'Even Better If' that they will try and put in to practice next time we do a piece of work focussing on sources, interpretations etc. In addition we have 'book checks' with an AfL style comment as well, although these tend to be more general. The only 'marks' pupils get are their Key Assessment levels which are reported home twice a year, and these are only revealed to pupils once all the AfL stuff has been completed.

At some points in the year the 'book checks' are performed by the pupils. I give them my list of criteria and they identify their own two stars and a wish. I then initial these to say I'm in agreement, or talk to pupils as necessary. This has worked really well, and seems to lead to those wishes being put into effect by more pupils.

It's important to both highlight what was good about a piece of work, and give a clear and specific instruction on how to improve. It CAN be hard to find the first, but you do get better at spotting them with practice (!) and the more you get to know the pupils the easier it is to spot what that pupil has recently managed to achieve. The targets need to be as specific as possible, while still being transferable to other pieces of work.

All the AfL research suggests that the most impact happens when pupils can act on those comments to improve some work straight away. This has implications for WHEN you mark as well as how.

It's taken me the last three years to really get comfortable with 'doing' AfL (and there are still things I need to work on) but the benefits are noticeable and it is completely worth getting in to!

#4 Jenjane


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Posted 23 October 2008 - 09:34 AM

I would also agree that saying what is good is important. You know because you have looked at 30 versions, they haven't. I often say "I like this because..." or "This bit is the best because...". I am also asking the students to reply to questions I ask in their book when they get them marked and write their own comment under mine. I am also trying to get students to write their own comments on work before they give in long written peices eg essays, as often they say a very similar thing to myself, and I can just say "I agree, and...".

Edited by Jenjane, 23 October 2008 - 09:34 AM.

#5 CLB



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Posted 23 October 2008 - 04:34 PM

We use a coding system but you have to believe them when they tell you they did their H/W independently.

#6 JohnDClare


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Posted 23 October 2008 - 06:01 PM

I aware that what I am about to point you towards is now terribly out of date, and that I have put it forward on the forum a number of times, but I really do believe that it solves your problems about marking, and it could certainly be adjusted to your syllabus, or individual essays etc. very easily.

You need to look at this marksheet.

You ONLY mark assessments - all the rest is notes-towards-assessments, and although you might glance in the pupil's work and check that it is done, you are not going to MARK that.

When you take in an assessment, you attach a marksheet to each piece of work.
As you mark, you acknowledge the places where the pupil has achieved each particular objective (so, for instance, when you see him using dates and historical terms, you jot '3.1' in the margin, etc.)
When you have gone through the assignment like that, you turn to the marksheet and tick the boxes he has achieved.
An overall level becomes obvious, and you award that.

I swear by it, and still use developed forms because:
1. it makes it really clear what the pupil is doing right, it shows then WHERE they have done it.

2. it help the pupil get his/her head around what they have to do to improve. If your AfL is not working, it will because you are not doing one or more of the following three things:
a. telling them what their target level is
b. telling them what level they are working at at the moment
c. telling them what they have to do to go from a to b.
Experience tells that it is at point c where most teachers are falling down, usually because they have not been clear enough about the steps the pupil needs to take to move forward. This marksheet stops all that confusion. Pupils getting back an essay thus marked can tell you at a glance what level they are at, and - by looking at the level objectives - they can tell you what they have to try to master in their next essay to move up.

3. it actually helped me sort out 'the steps from a-b' - I realised that, before that, my advice to children on 'how to move forward' had been wishy-washy in the extreme, and in some cases had amounted to little more than 'work harder'. The marksheet allowed me to focus with the pupil on a specific objective, which I could them teach them how to achieve.

4. it is really easy marking. No long 'what I liked about it' comments and explanations - the objectives criteria do all the explanation for you. No long 'next time you need to' comments to write - that is done for you. And, most of all, it focuses attention - not on neatness and effort and other such ephemera - but on performance and product.

Just a couple of more things.
Personally, I think any HoD who - given a target %age of L5s and L6s and a Teacher Assessment at the end of a Key Stage - cannot meet that target has to be fairly incompetent!
BUT - if you are not prepared (as I was not prepared) to cheat - what we did towards the end of Year 9 was to hold a series of 'Level 5' assessments.
If you look at the criteria for L5 on the marksheet:

5.2 Describe and make links between events
5.3 Show that some events, people and changes have been interpreted in different ways
5.4 Begin to evaluate sources of information and identify what you can and cannot trust
5.5 Begin to explain points in your answer

You will see that they 5.2, 5.3 and 5.4 are all skills that are fairly difficult to get into the kind of general assignment that traps 5.5 all the other skills at all the other levels.
However, you will also see that it is easy to set a source evaluation assignment which clicks the objectives.
So - if we found we were short of a few L5s towards the end of the year - we simply set a few 'Level 5 essays' or a pass-or-fail basis, until we had enough through that hoop - and then we got on with the real teaching.

As I say, I am aware that this markscheme is from a previous National Curriculum, and that it's three years now since I had anything to do with it.
BUT, the principles are still the same, and I am convinced that this approach is the correct way to train the pupils to advance up the hierarchy.

#7 Andie



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Posted 30 October 2008 - 12:53 PM

We've been using AfL at school for a few years now, and now that it is embedded (wow, did I really use that word!) it does work and the students don't ask for a "mark" anymore. It pays to make sure you plan relecting time into your lessons otherwise, some never really read the comments. We have a WWW (what went well ) and an EBI - even better if. That said, we have just started giivng effort grades for homework as we came to the conclusion that it must be incredibly frustrating to always have, "hey this was great and next time even better if..." (sic) Sometimes people just want a pat on the back for the work that they have done! :D

#8 vickicrabb


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Posted 07 November 2008 - 03:44 PM

I work at a school with an American system of grading. Every half term a grade in a % for each subject gets sent home. These are then kept on file and when they apply to university their average grades get sent off.

In each half term, you are expected to have between 6 and 12 marks for each class you teach. Therefore in an 8 weeks term, that equates to just over a piece of marked work a week for each class. I teach 8 classes, so that is about 10 pieces of marking to do a week. Too much in my opinion.

Therefore, I do not really have time to write detailed comments. Plus, all they want is a mark to create this grade. Plus, they really need a grade of about 80% to do anything decent, so most marks given have to be over 16/20. So I just write a mark and give it back. I hate it. I like AFL, I never used to write grades. However, I have to put it aside as I like living in Bermuda!

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