Month: November 2017

Marking codes 2.0

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I have written about using marking codes to reduce workload before here. I have talked about using codes to speed up marking but these prepared for generic feedback in MFL. Whilst I have found these very useful, sometimes I still find myself resorting to giving written feedback (particularly for KS4 work) as the feedback I want to give is a bit more complex.

There are two ways around this. The first is to simply read through all of the assignments that you wish to mark and make a list of common targets on a PowerPoint (the second is using a VLookup command on a spreadsheet but I will blog about this in a separate article). This way, you can make them much more specific to the task as well as more detailed, below (see fig.1) is an example for a year 11 written assignment I am marking at the time of writing.

fig.1 Targets specific to the assignment which I am currently marking. 

The PowerPoint is not particularly flashy and yes it will need to be made a bit easier for students to read but in many ways, the words are all you need otherwise you fall back into the trap of increasing that workload again.

I think it is important to ensure that the target includes a question for reflection or guidance to improve both the work and the student’s knowledge of the wider topic. Mini activities such as ‘list the key verbs’ and ‘what would support you with this?’ are designed to elicit reflection and response from the student to improve the work and their skills/knowledge in the context of the subject.

I have previously asked students to write the target from the board in green and the use it to improve their work but recently I am questioning the need to actually get them to write it, as long as you can clearly see that they are carrying out the task/reflection/improvement in their work.

As ever, please feel free to use, loose or abuse or share ways in which your improving the feedback you give your students.




A strategy to fill the gap.

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When students finish an activity, often we ask them in a variety of ways to show how many answers they got right. The problem is then filling in the gaps in the student’s knowledge. In Carl Hendrick’s brilliant book “What does this look like in the classroom”, Dylan Wiliam says (and I’m paraphrasing) that essential if he were to rename what has now come to be know as AfL, he would call it ‘response teaching’. Thus, my response to the above issue is this.

When you are going through some work with students and have marked it, ask students to raise their hand if they got a question/problem/equation wrong. You can then take a tally and go through further examples of the question/problem etc which had the most incorrect answers. This instantly fills in the gap in their knowledge. I have used mini whiteboards for this as it suits the ‘ad hoc’ scenario of which I am describing but I am sure there are a number of other mediums through which to provide said feedback. If some students had the correct answer, why not get them to take the lead on creating and marking the new example?



Approaching the 40 word question for the new AQA GCSE languages exam.

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The changing of the new GCSE has brought with it lots of challenges and training students to develop their writing skills is one of those challenges. There is a much bigger emphasis on the accuracy and use of grammar in the mark scheme and this is a very difficult area to master for a lot of students. The 40 word mark scheme is relatively forgiving in that the accuracy of structures and grammar is not as prominent as in the 90 word or 150 word but students who have a range of memorised structures at their disposal will earn an easy 16 marks here.

I have therefore come up with the following scaffold for memorising structures for the 40 word question. This will also prove useful as a basis to work from for the 90 word question on the foundation paper. See fig.1 for an explanation.

40 word question scaffold
Fig.1 screenshot of the 40 word question scaffold.

I have taken each sub topic from each double page in the book. I have also taken the key structures from that section and translated them where possible (usually where you wouldn’t be able to use a dictionary) so that students can then write around 10 words per sub topic. The 40 word question looks like it will contain bullet points that are simply one word (e.g. amigo, cine, comida) and therefore students can practice writing these sentences, have them corrected by the teacher and learn these phrases from memory which will at least serve as a good basis from which to start. As I have said, this will also support the 90 word written question and the speaking test.

Additionally, I have asked students to upload a copy for themselves onto Google Drive, convert it to Google Docs and share it with me so that I can give them feedback in real time (see fig.2 below).

40 word question scaffold example
Fig.2 a screenshot of a student’s work with my feedback on the right hand side.

Below is a link to download a copy of the 40 word scaffold I have created, please feel free to use, loose or abuse.

40 word question topic scaffold