Category Archives: Marking/feedback/dialogue

Stop writing feedback comments…..and see what happens!

We are constantly trying out new ideas to ease workload and marking/feedback is always one area that my colleagues are keen to swop and share ideas on. I know that others have the same concerns and that our huge blogs of shared practice are by far the most read, borrowed from and commented upon that we have published externally. I’m not going to put links in this post as they are all on our web-site and we are moving on at a rate of knots anyway.

Over the Whit holiday I decided that it was time to try to suggest that we made a positive move towards trialling non written feedback. We had played at it with some great ideas already running and we had shared blogs from other schools such as Michaela to look at ideas from elsewhere whilst also setting up a well-being group and trying to reduce workload in key areas such as data collection. I won’t prescribe marking and feedback rigid policies and prefer that individuals/faculties create and design what works best for them, however I did issue a challenge, with prizes of course, to all who would trial feedback without written comments from themselves. Blessing given to anarchy! Not really, it was just extending what we were already trialling and my super AHT colleague Lizzy [@lizzy_francis] explained the idea at morning briefing with a much clearer presentation than my initial excited ramblings.

We had already share the DFE marking guidance, contributed to the EEF ‘a marked improvement’ review and Lizzy reminded staff of the latter’s main findings [although far more detailed research is to come]




Could we gather evidence that we could mark better without relying heavily on written feedback from us? Probably not in such a short time and without control groups and so on, but this was a quick taster of what we could possibly work on after September if the brief trial showed potential.




Colleagues, Lizzy or I could seek feedback from the students and ideas were to be shared at our breakfast jams, learning hub celebrations, research conference and in our book looks.


Our subject leader for history, Greg and Beth, 1 of our research leads shared the ideas they had been trialling at this first meeting to offer some basic ideas. Greg had been developing a crib sheet that he would complete when looking through his books so that he could address misconceptions and good learning with the whole class before DIRT. He was still struggling not to give in to adding written comments in the books as well at this point-it is seriously hard for teachers to stop doing what they have become so accustomed to! More of crib sheets and their impact later.


Greg has also trialled and shared some other ideas both internally and on social media where he has worked with many other historians to set up a network of collaboration that is a huge support to the PD of those involved.







As I mentioned, I do tease Greg because he does find it difficult not to add his own comments in conjunction with either peer/self-critique or crib sheets. Greg is in his 2nd year of teaching and even for someone with a couple of years in the classroom, the ingrained desire to write to the students is difficult to move away from. It is equally difficult for the students to accept getting their books back without expected dialogue in them. I’ll never impose 1 way of feedback as a straightjacket but the trials do have me intrigued and I need to see far more evidence from our own and other trials to make some definitive statements about effective methodology [if it ever exists!]


Beth’s idea is explained on her slide and again was the starter for what was to follow.


Beth extended her quick talk with these explanations;

I’ve attached some examples of the exit questions that we have been doing in Maths. This has really saved me time whilst also giving me a better overview of the students’ understanding of topics.

The Exit Questions come at the end of a lesson – or sometimes a series of lessons where we have studied a programme of topics e.g. transformations.

 Students mark and correct their own class work – but the exit question is marked by myself.

The example below is from a lesson with 8-1. We had been learning how to estimate the mean and other averages from a grouped frequency table. The exit question was given to all students in the class. They were asked to complete it on their own and not to panic and leave questions out if they weren’t sure. This helped to ensure that I gained a true insight into their understanding. Most students were confident – however a couple made errors which I then corrected. Students read my corrections at the start of the next lesson and in some cases attempted another question to consolidate the skills. I was also able to get around the class to give some verbal feedback whilst they were completing their 5 a day.


I did have to write a question for a handful of pupils who needed extra practice – I could save time by printing (more later). But on the whole this really saved me a lot of time whilst giving me a much better insight into the students’ understanding.


I have also used exit questions in conjunction with our STAR marking.

Students completed the exit question and used it to decide which area of transformations they would like to practice more. As always they can ask for an extra challenge as part of their STAR.


This time I printed the questions and stuck them into books – again saving time whilst ensuring students get an individual question to target their need.

Students studied the 4 areas of transformations. They pick one to target. So printing – wise I only have to print copies of 4 questions plus a challenge question. But the marking is heavily reduced.


 The yellow box below is used in order to identify a particular mistake/misconception. Students then get a second attempt at the question during DIRT time. Again, I can get round and give students verbal feedback whilst they complete their 5 a day. I’m going to develop this further and make it easier for myself by “nicking” Greg’s idea of a crib sheet to ensure I don’t forget anything/miss anyone out and give praise where needed.


Sarah, our subject leader for English, sent me her comments and ideas.

My trial was to only use self-assessment and peer-assessment with HA students.  No teacher marking took place.  Model answers were used to allow students to peer / self-assess their work in comparison to A* models.

As we don’t award grades the feedback / assessment was to be purely skills based.

Self – assessment is red pen and frequently students has to use our dept. marking codes to annotate their work or highlight where they had used specific skills.

Peer-assessment is purple pen and students had to set WWW and EBIs after reading A* model answers again no grades were used only skills referred to.

I trialled this with a year 10 set 1 class. At first they were horrified that I wouldn’t be marking their books by awarding arrows. However, they are much more competent at peer and self-assessing and understand how to use top band skills effectively now. Many students automatically started to annotate model answers with dept. codes without being asked to do so and they are now able to confidently offer constructive feedback and critique each other’s work in quite a sophisticated way.

This trial meant students were actually having to think about what they really felt they need to work on. As a dept. we will be moving to a lot more peer and self-assessment next year, especially at KS4 and teachers will only be ‘grading’ exam pieces every half term for years 10 and 11.

I hope this makes sense – the photos should make it clear.

Sarah’s work with marking codes was shared in the EEF booklet and if you are interested is here in a presentation she gave at our Research Conference and for the Sefton Heads and researchED at York. Whilst others are interested in the workload issues, they were perhaps more interested in how Sarah had linked her marking codes to a much quicker and very specific, thus more effective, method of tracking, recording and monitoring which aspects of their English learning the students needed more support with-individually and across classes or year groups.

 MCHS Marking Feedback Research Day – Sarah Cun…





Katie, another of our research leads and an English teacher shared her summer idea.

My trial was to only use self-assessment with students. No teacher marking, model answers or peer-assessment were to be used. This self-assessment required them to annotate their work, using the success criteria for WWW and then set themselves an unlimited number of targets that they knew they needed to address. No grades were used.

I trialled this with a year 9 set 1 class who hated the idea of me not marking their books- there was a lot of complaining initially! However, after doing this regularly I found that they engaged with the success criteria more willingly and felt that this method was making them more self-reliant rather than turning to me for an EBI. Students agreed that it was clear to them what they needed to do and how to build on and improve their own targets.

Using their self-assessment and EBI comments, students were asked to identify a section of their work that, after marking it with their annotations, they felt could be improved. Students drew a box around this work and then improved it at the end, aiming to include more of the success criteria within it. I felt that this allowed them to realise it was possible to improve when focusing and self-assessing properly.

This trial meant students were actually having to think about what they really felt they need to work on. The fact they knew I wasn’t marking anything also meant that if they didn’t do this properly that they could jeopardise their progress which was an incentive for them to self-assess to a high standard (although this may not always work for a low ability or less motivated class). An added benefit to this was that students became so accustomed to the success criteria that they began to use marking codes when giving themselves feedback which is helpful in terms of them being able to engage fully with my code marking in the future.

My only reservation with the trial was the limitation in terms of being able to use model answers. I feel that using models would have benefitted the self-assessment process rather than distracting from it.






Hannah trialled something slightly different in English and told me;

My trial was to give a sheet of whole class feedback (what we were doing well as a class and what we needed to do next as a class) . (to clarify- the one sheet was for the entire class and no comments were written on their work!) The students then used the overall class feedback sheet (it was photocopied for everyone) 

 I really liked it because we could have a good discussion together before considering targets. It also really helped me address gaps for planning as they seemed to jump out far clearer to me.  

The kids were not sold on it at all (I was disappointed about this!) – 2 out of 26 found it useful and they all preferred a traditional method of individual comments.

I wonder if I can adapt this now so that the students will feel that it is an effective way of doing this.

Examples of Hannah’s trial can be seen below.





sb87Emma, our subject leader for geography shared her thoughts and idea.

Here is a standard lesson I have done with year 7 – they have used the marking criteria and assessment criteria as a structure and then will self and peer assess their work – from that I can scan their work see how they have got on as they will be doing all the investigation into whether they and their peers deserve different BSG levels for each Skill and must highlight this on the mark scheme giving them a visual representation of how they have achieved their final award. From this I could develop it further if I wanted and use it as a basis to verbal feedback like Eddie pointed out. [Breakfast jam session]

And then;

This is the follow up from the ppt presentation I sent you the other day. You can see how the kids have highlighted and fed back both self and peer reflections and I have used the verbal feedback stamp as well.

Plenty of discussions about oral feedback, of course, and the stamper is used not to stop and record but to acknowledge excellent oral contributions on the hoof or afterwards. Of course we have worked hard to develop self and peer critique for some time and although the students don’t always like it, especially it seems in MFL, we still need to see much more solid evidence from further research on its efficacy. It does reduce our workload, if the students learn from it-if they don’t, we have to go back and re-visit-what do others think?

Interestingly, our BSG assessment which we have been developing as NC levels went, will do away with subject targets next year and use growth mind set ones instead-another blog!







Toni, our other geographer, has trialled a range of ideas throughout the year and in summer. The slides are all self-explanatory.

sb31 sb30








I also chuck in a bit of geography and history and wanted to try out something that looked at some of the growth mind set traits that we report on in our new reports and will focus on even more next year and how we can encourage our lower attaining students to self-assess in a meaningful way. Their oral feedback is usually much stronger than their written responses, so much of our lessons are spent talking to each other about what we know, what we have learned and how we can learn even more!




Showing commitment, resilience and seeking and using feedback are important for all learners even me! Trying to help the students to see how these traits and skills have helped their learning and spending time talking about their experiences can only help them form good learning habits IMO.

Our science subject leader, Carmel always tells me that she really isn’t too fond of extended writing and feels an empathy with some students who don’t find writing easy too. She has been trialling the use of I pads to support literacy and home-learning in science and shared her ideas at the Sefton Headteacher’s conference, our own Research Conference and research ED at York.

 headteachers conference – Carmel Manwaring.ppsx

The oral feedback and dialogue has proved to be very effective over a short period of time with the control group out-performing the others. Carmel, in response to my summer challenge, informed me as with some other colleagues that; I have been marking assessments only as we know this is what gives us a real picture of where pupils are and who is likely to underperform and therefore which pupils to focus on. Not sure there is anything to actually ‘show’ though.

She went on to add; have been having a very interesting discussion with my y9s though, about what we do when we don’t have the iPads next year. Jordan Smith has had a fantastic idea where pupils self-mark but when they feel they need my input on a piece of work they will highlight that bit with a highlighter pen and hand the book to me for teacher feedback. Think it will work a bit like a paper version of the iPad marking. Only drawback is it is paper based so could be quite a delay, whereas with the iPad it tended to be instant. Interesting idea which we would like to give a go in September. 

Tim, subject leader for ICT, has been trialling the use of Office 365, before the whole school begins to move to the system next year. Tim told me;

I have attached some work the students did in Office 365. In One Note I have created a space for each of my classes. They are able to upload work electronically to this area. One of the features allows students to have a collaboration area. In this area they can either all work on the same file. Or in regards to the marking challenge they are able to peer review each other’s work as a class at the same time.  This way 30 students could all post their work in one area and as a group peer review all 30 pieces of work at the same time. The peer review takes the form of a sort of electronic post it note.  I have included a screen shot of this. There are other features that allows you to see how the feedback has changed over time.

It is one of the areas of Office 365 that I am developing. It has a lot of potential but I am still working through all the bugs on the network to make it more efficient for all the staff to use.


In Office 365 it allows you to publish a student’s work in OneNote. The other students in the group can all view the document online. It will accept a variety of file types including sound, video and animations. The students have enjoyed publishing their work online and peer assessing it. By using OneNote they are able to peer assess the entire groups work in one lesson. The assessments all appear on one page so they can have a group discussion. The feedback appears in a sort of electronic post it notes.

Claudio, our other ICT teacher used his year 7 Lego project to trial his idea.

Feedback without written comments in Stop Frame Animation

ICT have been using feedback without written comments in lessons with stop frame animation being at the forefront of my trail. As with all projects in ICT there is a definite starting point and an end goal. I have promoted peer feedback and assessment throughout.

The students start with a big load of Lego. It’s a team project so it suits verbal feedback.


Before I used to get the students to screen shot their work in PowerPoint and mark this with students’ peer assessing it. There are always going to be stars in ICT for certain projects and a good way to use these stars is to get them to float about the room suggesting improvements and different ways to build the Lego projects in the design stage.

From a table full of Lego you get a castle.


 This is the actual software the students use and instead of me looking at their screen shots of their work I could see it as they designed it ultimately I would have to look at it anyway to resolve any issue but because I felt I had more time knowing there was to be no written feedback and the students used me to more effect in the lessons.


We are just finishing the final Stop Frame movies and instead of the final written assessment we are going to watch each group’s movie on the big screen. It will be a more relaxed way of grading their group work but I think if I give each student a tick list of criteria to be met then they can still peer assess it and I can as well.

Overall I felt happier without the written feedback and have already started this kind of feedback with my GCSE class.


Colin, our business studies subject leader, has trialled a whole range of self and peer critique assessments using the technology in his room, including google docs for some time. He led our questioning learning hub and this expanded into a variety of different questioning techniques and trialled ideas which supported feedback, especially the use of help mats in drama, MFL, business studies and maths. A couple of Colin’s slides to show his work are here and are self-explanatory.




Eddie [MFL] led our most recent breakfast jam and shared some of his recent ideas.

  • Students write a comment regarding a target for them at the end of a lesson
  • An exercise in the following lesson attempts to address this target
  • The exercise can be assessed, and if a certain mark is attained, the student can verify that the target has been met


  • Scan books following or during a lesson
  • Following or during lesson, do a verbal dialogue with students on the basis of what you have seen. Much more impact than written dialogue – plus you can ask them loads!


 The whole of MFL have been working on their own crib sheets-this is one Eddie worked on with Helen F.


The slide produced [copies to the students as guides] is based on skimming the books, as Greg’s example showed earlier and picking out good named examples and areas which the students hadn’t grasped. This forms the basis for the lesson biased on the teacher’s assessment of the learning seen in books, but not commented upon in the books.

Eddie also showed the Monsieur sheet Helen H had designed some time ago which can be used for self/peer assessment or teacher crib sheet marking.


Eddie ended with the impact of moving away from written comments on his own workload with some points that others staff quite liked!

  • Well-being
  • Maximise lesson time as not exhausted
  • More time allocated to planning

Eddie found that the class he trialled his crib sheet with tended to prefer dot marking and they were as forthright as usual in their views!




Bronagh, our subject leader for Spanish sent her very creative ideas.

BD Spanish Marking Challenge Feedback

At the start of the year we changed our marking style to use a tick box system in both KS3 and KS4 for written work. Any mistakes were highlighted in orange to be corrected by the students and “golden phrases were highlighted in yellow”, the feedback was then given in the grid below. This not only saved us time but also made the feedback a lot more specific. The tables were created based on the GCSE mark scheme so students can see exactly what is required for a perfect answer and these were then differentiated to make a KS3 BSG version. Students commented on how they preferred this method of marking as it was a lot clearer for them to identify what they had mastered and what they needed to include to improve.




To join the trial I wanted to keep the same format so we tried the following ideas:

In MFL we developed Greg’s marking grid to include the same marking criteria we previously had. When marking I read through the work, filled in the table and stuck one in each book. Students then went back through their own work highlighted the mistakes they had made from the grid and corrected them. Before completing their next task they read the previous feedback to ensure they didn’t make the same highlighted mistakes and that they completed the next step task. Any students highlighted for praise or WOW moments were used as experts during the dirt lesson. Their work was used as an example for other students and students who struggled went to them for support to improve rather than me.



Students initially didn’t enjoy this idea and struggled to believe I had read all their work. After a while they did warm to the idea more and began to love seeing their name mentioned in the praise column. However I did notice there was a few errors which continually kept occurring no matter how many times they were highlighted so I tried a different approach of “The What’s” before marking.


When a task was completed students needed to go through for a final check to make sure they had not fallen for the same mistakes again. Although they always said they have re-read and checked their work they usually simply scanned it then handed it in. This time they had a criteria to look for and a final opportunity to find mistakes before I did.



This is an idea I have just introduced so at the moment I can’t measure the impact just yet but from this first few attempts students were very confident in identifying errors and correcting them themselves without needing any feedback from me.

We have continued to use peer assessment and self-assessment for feedback and I have used a new peer assessment format to get students to focus on the quality of their work not just the quantity.



For reading and listening feedback usually wasn’t very detailed or effective so instead we changed to make it a time for reflection on progress. Students filled in their own marks and keep track of their progress each time. Feedback is usually given orally when work is marked in lessons so no other feedback is required.



I attended the most recent MFL book look and the discussion concerning the effectiveness of the trials and the responses of the students was interesting. Marion felt that; My students seemed to like it because they felt that they had  a better understanding of the common mistakes they had made when I explained them orally (rather than reading them).They could also ask questions about anything they hadn’t understood which benefitted the rest of the class too. From my point of view I felt that the students were more focused and I could question them after explaining a point to check whether or not they now understood it. I think it worked particularly well with students who tended not to read written feedback.

Marion likes the adaptability of this method and shared these examples of the slides she produced for the class after skimming their books.

Marking Crib Sheet Poem


Marking Crib Sheet reading

Obviously great examples that the teachers spots can be shared on the visualizer and awards for good learning can be celebrated and individuals named and asked to elaborate. The suggested next steps based on prior assessment can then be either checked in the next lesson or next appropriate lesson orally as the teacher moves around the classroom or by whatever method of assessment they use.

Josie has been trialling a couple of different ideas in her art lessons.

Year 10 GCSE

To develop and improve progress, I’ve adapted the Assessment Objective display I refer to in lesson as a tracking marking sheet for the students’ sketchbooks.

The three objectives are detailed at the top of the sheet, then translated into questions that are discussed with myself and the student. Notes are then made as to what has been completed and then a plan of action is created for the student to work towards.

Students will generally spend several weeks working on their plan of action and will reassess with me every month.




Key Stage 3 – started with Year 7

Technical terminology needs to be covered in Art, before students can fully explore media. To help retention of the key terms and meanings, I have trialled the use of a question diary which can be attached to the back of the book.

Working on the idea of interleaving, a key term is introduced and referenced throughout two lessons and then the topic progresses. After a few lessons, the students are required to answer specific questions on their question diary to recall the information.




I’ve stopped at this point although others are trialling still and some may choose to begin a longer trial perhaps linked to our new style appraisal or our new learning hubs. At the beginning of the blog I alluded to the fact that teachers have found it difficult to move themselves away from adding written feedback and creating a dialogue this way. Marking less and marking better sounds easier than perhaps it is! Some of the examples have mixed both, some have gone the whole way but what is clear, even after a short practise run is that the students generally haven’t been overwhelmed by some of the ideas, especially the crib sheet. They are often conservative by nature and don’t always respond well to change. If they say ‘it’s rubbish’ or ‘I just don’t like it’ we do have to push them to give substantiated reasons to support their thinking and development. However if we gather the evidence to inform us that certain types of feedback are more effective than others in moving learning forwards, then we have to trial and adapt as well as we can do and prove to students and parents that there is merit in the idea and that our expectation is that students too trust our judgement and teaching ability and get on with it!

Have a great summer and enjoy the break and hopefully better weather.





Summer Feedback part 3 The Final Showdown

Summer Feedback part 3 School’s Out!

Here comes summer School is out, oh happy days

Here comes summer Gonna grab my girl and run away

If she’s willing We’ll go steady right away

Now let the sun shine bright on my happy summer home

I knew you’d be expecting the Alice Cooper song! I’m an old romantic at heart!

School’s not so bad but the summer is better

They give me more time to see my girl

Walk through the park beneath the shiny moon

Oh when we kiss she makes my hair curl

Not too many of our staff will recall my curls but the sentiments are probably the same now as they were when Cliff Richard [and many others] first sang the song. Sadly though we do have to say goodbye to some long serving colleagues and of course, quite an important person!

This is our final blog of the year and the 3rd part of our summer sharing of feedback/marking and observation ideas. It is also the last blog of Alison Heaton’s leadership of our school. Alison prefers to stay out of the limelight, always seeking to praise and develop the contribution of others, rather than talking about her own leadership and success. The truth, now revealed, for those from other schools who read our blogs, is that everything you read about our collaboration, mind-set and innovation and sharing emanates from a vision and a role model that Miss has provided Meols Cop with for the last 11 years. She will deny it and always say that the best is yet to come. Her leadership has taught us that this is the only way we must think here to sustain and improve what we have. We do celebrate our success internally but externally you won’t hear us talk about inspections, results or progress to anyone. [Unless we are asked-we try to help and support those who need it most] If the ‘best is yet to come’, that is only because of the foundations that Alison has worked with dedicated commitment to establish here. She’s pretty good for a posh scouser! Thank you Miss, enjoy your retirement and be ready by the phone to dispense your advice when we get stuck trying to lead half as well as you have!

A few pictures to begin with from Carol our English TA who has designed some lovely board games to support our G.C.S.E. classes. Connect four, blockbusters and trivial pursuits-thank you Carol!

01 02 03 04 06



Our mathematicians sent their feedback from our last faculty meetings to me and you can see the questions asked, if you haven’t seen the previous blogs.

Maths best bits!

  • Feedback that the student acted upon and you then have the evidence that it closed a specific learning gap

CB shared her using the STAR marking to identify issues. Identified confidence issue then supported with different approach and students completed successfully


CB – another response from student’s misconception and tackling response.


09 10

BK shared her student’s responses to the STAR questions


ZE – showed us how a student had shown they could take action with their weaknesses.


AV identifies student concerns and makes students list their own individual steps needed for the mathematical processes.

  • Feedback that you can evidence was a real penny dropping moment that might have taken ages to for it to drop!



BK – We had a whole class discussion on a similar questions as identified as a weakness. Students that struggled were asked to answer something similar in their books. We can see from student response they’ve appreciated the extra go!


AV – Penny dropping moment from 9 set 1 to challenge their mind-set to push from KS3 to KS4 understanding, using the multiplier method in maths.


JF – Trialling ZE’s method of differentiated hints this student had really struggled with the 1st attempt but was keen to have another go. After a silver hint which was more structured than the Gold she successfully answered a tricky surface area question.

  • Feedback that you feel showed a tremendous piece of mind-set from the student involved in achieving it



ZE – student showed a positive attitude towards problem solving by using a challenging hint to assist in their second attempt in learning.


ZE – Students were asked to solve a problem using sequences, they make their first attempt and choose their own differentiated hint ‘bronze, silver or gold’.


SL shared her observation lesson. No clues for the first attempt and students designed their own hints and attempted a second time if needed. This student had the confidence and didn’t need a second attempt.



BK – Students are given the opportunity to ask for a ‘challenge question’ when completing their STAR marking.


JF- Mindset in action and a student write ‘I don’t get it yet’, celebrating the YET part!

  • Feedback from self/peer that was a superb example of honest critique with examples/follow up checking/success



An honest students discusses their thoughts from BK


AV – Students are grouped to support with Peer assessment. Books are swapped 3 times for different students to look.




SL – Students tackle misconceptions with the different methods on multiplication.



JF- Peer assessment and Growth mindset together, using the students to build confidence in answering high end GCSE style questions that can sometimes cause students to panic.

  • Feedback that hit any of our current obsessions-re-drafting, innovative, fast, SPaG etc.



CB – during an external visit CB challenge 10 set 1 to redraft their work on a A* GCSE question. She used the ‘hint’ method to guide. This example is a second attempt where we she simply checked her work.


ZE – Student has another go at their final answer.

Art and DT

Katy, Aimee and Josie kindly sent me examples of their current marking and discussions.

Lesson Observation Risks:


The focus of my l and t and also my lesson obs was independent learning spurred on by growth mindset.

I chose a problem solving exercise in which students where given the style of an artist and had to work out the best way of simulating that style using 4 tables of different materials that they moved around. The risk was the movement of students around the room and the fact that students would be at different stages of development even if they began from the same starting point. All students produced something according to G/S/B criteria and the challenge of problem solving worked well as a motivational tool.

Students did not manage to get around all tables in the time given however if this task becomes embedded as a regular lesson format, less explanation and more work will take place. Problem solving will be linked to real life work scenarios to ‘up’ the stakes and increase motivation for boys and girls alike.

Independent learning was achieved by all students in some capacity and a great side effect was the problem solving dialogue between students at the same table.


8.4 lesson on ‘teens and choices’.

My lesson was based on special dietary needs of individuals and I wanted the students to consider their own special dietary needs being a teenager. The students completed a starter task using min wipe boards and were given some facts about special dietary needs answering true or false to each statement using their boards. This task had some common misconceptions surrounding nutrition and teens choices for example- ‘how many teaspoons are in a can of coke?’ I wanted to use facts which surround their choices to really make them think about their choices and if they are the right ones.

The students were then given a fact sheet full of information about teenager’s special dietary needs- the student used a highlighter to highlight key words. I did this as I feel I really want to push independent learning as I feel that student in key stage 4 struggle to collect information from for example a textbook in mass.

The student then analysed case studies and planned suitable meal for each case scenario giving reasons for each item using factual information – from their fact sheet. Some students struggled with this and I encouraged them to highlight and they found it useful.


The students used the growth mind set dice as their plenary task I really feel this was a very positive task as I overheard some great comments such as ‘ we talk about this in science and PSHE’ .

One of my lesson targets was GM and I was really happy with the outcome- students made some great comments and all gave positive feedback about the plenary activity. I enjoyed the conversations I overheard during this task.

The second lesson target was independent learning and I really feel this was a highlight as the student all used the factual sheet to collect information to complete the task. Some students did struggle with this activity but I feel if they were to do a similar task again would find it easier and with this in mind it would aid their research and learning in key stage 4 as I personally feel in Catering this is something some students struggle with- the confidence to research independently.

I guess what I was really trying to do is make them each think about their choices and how the choices they make now are so important. I used factual information on items such as ‘coke’ McDonalds’ for that reason to make them aware of what is actually in each item.


8.3 – Observational Drawing and Independent Learning

The class were coming to the end of a scheme of work investigating observational drawing, an important focus of the new Art GCSE. The focus of all artwork has been to understand the skills required when drawing from observation, the technical use of a variety of media and learning to develop and refine their artwork over a period of time; the lesson therefore was a further development of these skills and understanding.

The focus of this lesson, was to build upon their understanding of using media and explore observational drawing through the use of ‘creation stations’. The four ‘creation stations’ were split into two different media; graphite powder and Indian ink. These were both mediums that the students were new to, however the application of them is no different to their understanding and use of pencil and paint.

Normally when a new media is introduced, I will demonstrate and show students exemplar artwork to show the possibilities of the media; this can however result in some students becoming very reliant upon teacher guidance. The risk of this lesson, was to give the students primary observation items to draw with new media, having received basic guidance/instructions for use from myself.

Basic guidance was supplied through simple instructions and health and safety guidance in a photo frame on every table.


My expectation was that the students would struggle on the first media, ask for teacher support and then improve on the second media. When it came to the activity, I was pleased and impressed that the students enjoyed the exploration of the new media and the fact that I wasn’t telling them what to do. On the second media the student worked to a much higher standard, as their confidence seemed to grow. When they evaluated themselves on the scale of confidence, all students noted improved confidence on ‘creation station’ 2.


To support the risk, I utilised the four Platinum students I have in 8.3 and put one in each group as an aspirational target for the other students to work towards. I think this worked well, as the discussions between the students involved tips to help each other use the media and support as to how to improve their artwork.

The aim of this lesson was to improve independent learning and the idea of exploring new media; when feedback from the students was collected they all commented that ‘you should just have a go’, ‘don’t be scared’ and ‘don’t panic’.

Feedback Evidence:

Feedback that you feel showed a tremendous piece of mind-set from the student involved in achieving it

31 32 33

Aaron Fuller has struggled with the observational drawing scheme of work, as he is not a confident realistic drawer. He has used the diary to record the tips and advice I have verbally provided and applied it to his artwork.


34 35 36

Freya Matthews is a talented artist, but she rushes her work. The feedback diary has encourage her to slow down and focus on her skill level and therefore ensuring she gained Platinum at the last reporting opportunity.

Feedback from self/peer that was a superb example of honest critique with examples/follow up checking/success

37 38

Peer Assessment is often used in Art, as I’ve found the students provide honest critique of their peers’ artwork. As well as complimenting the artwork, students are encouraged to choose an area of the artwork that needs improvement. They must provide very specific advice, and not say complete the artwork.

Rezija Vitola was told to focus on increasing her use of pattern.

39 40

Nathan Wills was complimented on his observational drawing and encouraged to improve his use of pattern and white chalk in his artwork.

The peer assessment generally takes place half way through the lesson, therefore allowing students the opportunity to use the remaining part of the lesson to focus on their targets and feedback. When they have done that, they write down exactly what they did during DIRT time as a record of progress.

School is almost out for summer and I’d like to thank all of my colleagues who have shared ideas over the year and all of our new friends at other schools who have either visited us to chat about our ideas or engaged in a dialogue about learning and teaching with us. Have a wonderful and hopefully sunny holiday.

Summer Feedback Trilogy Part 2 Fast Feedback Trials and Observation Risks

The science faculty have been trialling their ‘fast feedback’ ideas all year and their original shared ideas and reasons for their trial are here.

Their PPA is planned on the timetable so that they are able to meet and plan together once a week and obviously one of the topics might be to share feedback ideas and adapt their ‘fast feedback’ trial from the lessons continually learned. The ideas shared in this blog follow on from part 1 where I explained that this week the whole school shared their Magic Moments celebrating good practice gathered  from our summer observations and book monitoring. This is our second and final ‘big share’ of the year and follows our winter one explained in this post.

It’s really important to me that staff get the chance to talk honestly and openly to each other about their practice in small groups and then their conversations are shared whole school. This gives the opportunity for colleagues from different faculties the chance to 1] nab ideas, 2] go and talk to someone about an idea they like, 3] offer support to a colleague who asks for it with a certain teaching issue, 4] choose to plan and work with a colleagues from another faculty on a similar idea, 5] informally observe and for middle leaders and senior leaders the evidence to help them prioritise PD needs and support.


Observation Risks:

CM – I chose to cover independent learning as the main topic for my lesson observation. I introduced pupils to a new topic and gave them minimal support. They were provided with a straightforward introduction, some simple instructions to find their feed using the equipment and chemicals. Then more detailed instruction to perform a neutralisation reaction. There were then questions to complete to allow pupils to consolidate their learning. The risk was that pupils could have just floundered and not actually done anything. They could have wasted a lot of time and not completed the tasks claiming they didn’t really understand what they were supposed to do. However they were fine and all but two pupils made very good progress. To increase the risk further I introduced the idea of recording evidence on voice recorders and cameras with a view to overcoming the issues of lost time from reluctant writers and weaker literacy lowering quality of evidence of scientific learning. This aspect of the observation was very encouraging and will be taken forward next year with a paired trial.

HS- with 8.5 the risk I took in the observation was the independence of the lesson, students learned by discovery.  They “played a game” that enabled them to find out how a carbon atoms moves through a cycle, and to appreciate it is a cycle, it doesn’t have a start or end point.  This was a risk as they are accustomed to me stopping and explaining when something gets difficult, they haven’t read instructions or get stuck.  Students moved around the room for 15minutes with no input from me, I was surprised to see how all the students got on with the task, followed the instructions and gathered all the information they would later need for the closing questions. I will develop this further next year by focusing on independent learning within the classroom with 10.4 a different class who I have discovered recently respond really will to learning through discovery.

HW – Pupils were given the task (to see how concentration affected rate of reaction) and the equipment in a tray, and had to safely work out the method and record their results. This was a risk as they’re used to either me demonstrating the practical at the front, or giving them a detailed method sheet.

This worked really well, I think due to the way I had arranged the ‘Science buddy’ pairs so they could help each other. If anyone ever asked me a question I said ‘could your buddy answer that?’ and it turns out most of the time they could!

As well as this risk, I purposely didn’t tell them what concentration was, and tried to get them to use their prior knowledge, results, and a diagram to create their own definition of concentration, and then use this to explain why they got their results. This had mixed success, but I’m glad I tried it as some pupils surprised me with their ability to think conceptually and apply quite difficult scientific knowledge.

FD – I chose to promote independence and student ownership of own learning for my lesson observation focus.  I introduced students to a ‘big’ scientific question which they were to devise their OWN answer and definition of during the course of the lesson.   Learning activities/episodes were planned and set up that would contribute to their own internal understanding of the ‘big question.’  The practical elements of the learning were deliberately planned to challenge student thinking from their previous understanding in order to really cement the concept in their minds.  Firstly, the students completed a basic investigation to note that mass did not change when a chemical reaction took place.  To challenge this, students were asked to test this theory with a reaction that would release gas (thereby losing mass as gas atoms) and explain this phenomenon compared to their initial thoughts.  All pupils could explain that mass was lost due to atoms escaping as a gas.  To further challenge this in their minds, I asked them to consider if the mass would change in a reaction if you could increase the volume of the product considerably from start to end of a chemical reaction.  When this demonstration confirmed that mass does indeed remain constant in chemical reactions, a real penny dropping moment was struck.  Some high level (penny dropping) explanations in terms of atoms and atomic/molecular arrangements in chemical reactions (in reactants & products) were provided by some students which was very rewarding.

Students were required to convert their own thinking and verbal responses into written dialogue in an organised, coherent way that used scientific terminology appropriately.

The biggest risk was asking students to work through various practical based scenarios about a scientific concept (conservation of mass) and devise their own theory in a coherent written format, using appropriate scientific terminology.

The risk was that students could have wasted time during the practical elements and would not really understand how to convert this learning into written dialogue.  But they all did!  A peer assessment of the written dialogue was undertaken to ensure all students could provide this written work to the gold standard required for progress, with dedicated time provided for improvements to their written work where required.  The standard of the written responses was very encouraging.

I will take this aspect of providing learning episodes to answer a ‘bigger question’ independently through to my maths teaching from September, promoting the ability to problem solve in our learners which is a strong focus of the new mathematics curriculum.

WS- The main risk was in letting students undertake a practical task without any verbal instructions. They had a practical sheet and were told they could ask for me or Mr K to read it not explain it. The premise was to use” 3 before me” to support each other and develop resilience. It went well because at first students did do the practical wrong and weren’t quick enough assembling the equipment to collect the gas produced. However, this was not a barrier and they adopted a great growth mind set ( which we have been working on for 2 years, although not calling it that) by keeping going, not getting stressed and trying the procedure in a different way and they were all ultimately successful, by helping and watching each other and they obtained the results required.

The wonderful thing is that they are very comfortable to learn by trial and error and the principle of learning being a journey and not quite being there “yet” but still striving for gold and even platinum, showing commitment to learning rather than being taught.

PJ – The risk that I took in the recent observed lesson was to let the students work with as much independence as possible to answer a question that I posed at the beginning by carrying out an experiment. I then got the students to teach others what they found out and they had to answer questions on that as well. It went really well but could have gone wrong right from the start.

Whole Department Highlights and Developments:

Highlights of Book Monitoring

  • The use of colours to show peer, self and teacher feedback, as well as clear evidence of response to feedback and redrafting.
  • The clear progress in the books.
  • The use of peer and self-assessment. Highlights of observations
  • The independent nature of the observations
  • Trialling new ideas e.g. PJ and IRIS, and CM with visual and oral evidence for progress from hand held devices.

Next year’s T&L focus

  • Interleaving Trials:
  • CM IPad, meaningful homework’s
  • PJ IPad, IRIS
  • RM HW HS independence high middle and low
  • HW questioning
  • Whole department, meaningful learning through practical’s

Feedback evidence:


Feedback that the student acted upon and you then have the evidence that it closed a specific learning gap


The student at first has described how the paint and car attract but they missed out a key concept of the particles repelling, this was addressed in blue pen.

Feedback that you can evidence was a real penny dropping moment that might have taken ages to for it to drop!


Here there has been discussion to clear up the confusion of the pulmonary artery and vein, and understanding how they aid delivery of oxygenated blood to the body.

Feedback that you feel showed a tremendous piece of mind-set from the student involved in achieving itBS3

Students were given various targets 1-6 and 7 they decided on their own.  The targets where based on what makes a “gold” student and marks that are lost for silly little reasons, e.g. not using the correct key word, not reading the question properly, (dash-it marks).  The students totted up where they lost marks that could have been achieved with little extra effort, set a target, said how they will address it and said what the evidence of this will be.

Feedback that hit any of our current obsessions-re-drafting, innovative, fast, SPaG etc.



Students self assessed, then peer verified work to show progress.


Feedback that the student acted upon and you then have the evidence that it closed a specific learning gap



Pupils first attempted an open-ended question ‘why don’t people need to mow their lawns in winter’. This was to assess knowledge remembered from the previous lesson and any other prior knowledge. Then the answers were discussed in pairs, then as a class, then a model answer shown. Although the peer assessment in this example isn’t very detailed, he has shown the keyword ‘glucose’ is missing. Then her redraft has massively improved as she has included more keywords and successfully linked it back to glucose. Her improvement is SPaG based, which she struggles with due to her dyslexia (links to CMs study about the use of iPads removing any literacy barriers but allowing pupils to still show their scientific knowledge).

Feedback that you can evidence was a real penny dropping moment that might have taken ages to for it to drop!


Conservation of mass can be hard for some pupils to understand as they assume if you’re reacting two things together, the product must have gained mass because they’re adding together. Or reversely if you add two chemicals to make one product, it must be lighter.

So I showed them the particle models of a reaction and got them to count how many of each element were on each ‘side’ of the arrow (top 4 lines). I then got them to answer some maths questions to prove conservation of mass (e.g. 7g + ??? à 10g, what is missing?)  They could then write their own scientific definition, which I was very impressed with!

Feedback that you feel showed a tremendous piece of mind-set from the student involved in achieving it

bs54This pupil really struggles with his literacy and doesn’t enjoy writing. However here he has attempted a question, self-assessed it, improved it to nearly perfect (5/6) and then redrafted the whole thing again to get full marks. Even better – I’d said to him ‘just add in the bit you missed out’ as I know he’s a slow writer, but he persisted and did the whole thing again as he ‘wants it perfect’!

Feedback from self/peer that was a superb example of honest critique with examples/follow up checking/success


Self-reflection on their learning before an assessment. Very honest, and after reading my comment she came to see me at break to ask about the page numbers she needed to look at in her textbook ‘for the carbon cycle’. She then came back at lunch and said she didn’t like the textbook page, and could she take her exercise book home as she prefers her notes from class. This shows great GMS as she’s identified her weakness and is working on improving it rather than giving up. She then successfully answered the carbon cycle question in her assessment, and said ‘oh my god Miss, revision works!’ I think without this reflection beforehand, she would have attempted to revise everything, felt overwhelmed and given up.

Feedback that hit any of our current obsessions-re-drafting, innovative, fast, SPaG etc.



Pupils were given a hypothesis they had to write a method to test. First attempt was without any help on what makes a good method. Then after a class discussion, they had a second attempt that was peer assessed. Then the third attempt has also improved. Although the 3 methods are all similar, the subtle improvements are necessary for scientific methods. This redrafting (although still not perfect) has shown this class in particular (that doesn’t like writing!) that if you do it properly and thoroughly once, it won’t need correcting. This redrafting has told me as a teacher that the class needs a further ‘method skills’ lesson to a) see if they revert back to the style of the first attempt, and b) to improve further with how they measure 1m, the distances, etc.

WS:  My belief is that Growth Mind Set is everything and if we get that right everything else will automatically follow as we have laid such a good framework to enable learners.

Feedback that the student acted upon and you then have the evidence that it closed a specific learning gap


Student was then able to calculate mass number and atomic number and relate to the number of sub-atomic particles

Feedback that you can evidence was a real penny dropping moment that might have taken ages to for it to drop!

Adaptation of NTEN techniques in classroom to improve retention


Feedback that you feel showed a tremendous piece of mind-set from the student involved in achieving it.





Optional GYM homework set on cystic fibrosis and after discussion – the optional homework was re-drafted


Feedback from self/peer that was a superb example of honest critique with examples/follow up checking/success


Feedback that hit any of our current obsessions-re-drafting, innovative, fast, SPaG etc.

GYM review sheets



Feedback that the student acted upon and you then have the evidence that it closed a specific learning gap


Katie Badley – structure of the leaf (Y7) CM

Katie completed her original work in black pen, I provided initial feedback in green pen. Katie then made some minor amendments in blue that I had requested then improved it by adding an additional paragraph for the missing details.

Feedback that you can evidence was a real penny dropping moment that might have taken ages to for it to drop!

Aimee Blundell – Ray diagrams and law of reflection (she had set up her equipment incorrectly).



Aimee Blundell did had not really appreciated all the details required for the ray diagram, particularly the reflection points from the mirror and had set the equipment up with the mirror in slightly the wrong position so the back of the mirror was not lined up with the line. This meant her incident and reflected ray did not line up. After some feedback she made some labelling additions in blue then went on to repeat the investigation and get the ray diagrams and angles perfect!

Feedback that you feel showed a tremendous piece of mind-set from the student involved in achieving it



Laura Pendlebury – Law of reflection and ray diagrams CM

Laura took four attempts to get the diagram correct and use the protractor carefully. She kept going though which is a great mind set. Laura often jokes that she puts more graphs in the bin than she gets right in her book, but she always keeps going, which is fantastic.

Feedback from self/peer that was a superb example of honest critique with examples/follow up checking/success



Ally Lyon – determination of population of species CM

Ally self-marked her population piece (original work completed in black and self-marked in red pen) then redrafted it in blue. This was then peer assessed by Eleanor and peer verified by Nour.



Ally Lyon – nuclear radiation, the gamma knife CM

Original work in black pen, peer assessed with improvements by Nour, then redrafted in blue the following lesson.

  Feedback that hit any of our current obsessions-re-drafting, innovative, fast, SPaG etc.


Fast Feedback, Zoe King CM

– shows use of coloured pens to speed up marking, self-assessment in red pen, peer question in blue that is then pupil response in black


Feedback that the student acted upon and you then have the evidence that it closed a specific learning gap

BS29 The students work was peer assessed in red pen.  The peer assessment was ineffective at identifying exactly what the learner was missing to improve their answer to achieve the Gold criteria.  After checking the peer assessment and marking myself in green pen I highlighted the learning gap to the student in question.  The learner has responded in blue pen to my feedback, evidencing that they now understand this concept, closing this specific learning gap for this learners understanding of the causes of day and night.

Feedback that you can evidence was a real penny dropping moment that might have taken ages to for it to drop!


This student did not appreciate that when explaining the concept of diffusion, that specific scientific key words must be used for it to be assessed as Gold standard.  The student’s first attempt at the explanation is written in blue pen.  I have assessed the students work in green pen, asking for a definition using key words that have been taught during the course of the topic.  Without reminding the student of the actual key words to use, the penny has dropped for this student as the improved definition is perfect!

Feedback that you feel showed a tremendous piece of mind-set from the student involved in achieving it



Dan Hinchcliffe Set 7.2 – Dan followed all feedback and kept repeating his attempts at Sankey diagrams until he had perfected it and reached the Gold standard


Feedback from self/peer that was a superb example of honest critique with examples/follow up checking/success


Charlie Shields 7 set 2 – here is an example of Charlie’s self-assessment of homework.  He addresses any knowledge gaps by including correct answers in purple pen – to aid revision of the topic


This shows another example of Charlie responding to peer feedback to improve upon his original work

Feedback that hit any of our current obsessions-re-drafting, innovative, fast, SPaG etc.


Fast feedback – peer assessed in red pen – the peer assessor has added a fast note in red pen and arrows to indicate where answers are the wrong way around to provide fast feedback to the learner.


Feedback that the student acted upon and you then have the evidence that it closed a specific learning gap



The students above were really struggling to grasp the concepts in fractional distillation. They attempted a six marker and RAG’d it and it was peer assessed. They then used their feedback to have another ago, and RAG’d their work again. This was then followed by a final peer assessment and feedback given by me. The process took two lessons but I really felt that the students ended with a much better understanding of fractional distillation.

Feedback that you can evidence was a real penny dropping moment that might have taken ages to for it to drop!




7.7 students really struggle to complete any work independently. I completed a two week growth mind set project with them which led to them becoming much more independent and confident in their own ability. There is one student in particular who suffers from low confidence. She is actually one of the more able student in the class but she will not attempt any piece of work without reassurance from the TA. Over the two weeks, she really proved to herself how capable she was of doing tasks independently. She showed such good growth mind set over the two weeks that I chose her as one of my growth mind set stars for my observation lesson with this class. She did not complete the same tasks as anyone else as her role was to peer assess and give feedback to the other students on their work. It was lovely to see her having the confidence to guide other students – something that she had always been capable of doing but had never been confident enough to. I think it was a penny dropping moment for both her and me to see how she could come in just two weeks.

Feedback that you feel showed a tremendous piece of mind-set from the student involved in achieving it



I completed a two week growth mind set project with 7.7 in which the students really concentrated on becoming more independent learners. The students started by writing growth mind set pledges, choosing things such as ‘I will not say I can’t’ and ‘I will not give up’. The students were given a series of tasks to compete independently each lesson and those who did particularly well were awarded growth mind set stars as seen before. They were also given peer and teacher feedback throughout the project. The end result of this project was that the majority of the students were able to work independently for 45 minutes. This was a big achievement for these students who previously would not attempt anything without help or support from myself or the TA.

Feedback from self/peer that was a superb example of honest critique with examples/follow up checking/success

BS45The student above has been given specific feedback and advice of how to improve. They have then redrafted their work, and have then had it verified by another student who had given them further feedback. This dialogue has led to them producing a work of high standard (but not particularly good presentation!) that included most of the necessary key words for the topic.

Feedback that hit any of our current obsessions-re-drafting, innovative, fast, SPaG etc.

All of the above examples show evidence of DIRT. We have tried very hard to incorporate DIRT into all of our lessons over the last year, and the students are now well practiced at completing peer assessment and improving, redrafting and reflecting on their work. There are also above examples of students redrafting their work – students now know not to hand any work in that hasn’t been marked (by either themselves or a peer) and improved on within the lesson.


Feedback that the student acted upon and you then have the evidence that it closed a specific learning gap


Student replied to feedback by identifying the answer then they used that further knowledge to help them define a keyword within the lesson.

Feedback that you can evidence was a real penny dropping moment that might have taken ages to for it to drop!

In my observed lesson one group predicted an incorrect outcome to a practical before carrying it out. Then when they did the practical they were able to identify they were wrong and why. This is evidenced in my lesson plan.

Feedback that you feel showed a tremendous piece of mind-set from the student involved in achieving it


For whatever reason the image was beyond my GM and rotating skill! Sorry Phil!

Yr7 student answering a DIRT question. Could label the parts of an animal or plant cell but I wanted to see if they really understood and could take it further by telling me what each part does. As you can see they were able to do this so I threw in an extra one that they had missed out and they got that as well.

Feedback from self/peer that was a superb example of honest critique with examples/follow up checking/success


Above is an example of a DIRT lesson at KS4. These lessons are also done with ks3. In these lessons students answer an open ended question with as much information as they can remember from the week. These questions are then peer assessed in red pen and any improvements given. Students then redraft their work taking into account these improvements in blue pen. They are then rechecked by myself.

Feedback that hit any of our current obsessions-re-drafting, innovative, fast, SPaG etc.

The above picture also shows an example of re drafting and how it is carried out. The below picture is an example of how I use SPAG. In this example I have shown a literacy question which centres around a common spelling mistake in science – Fluorine. This is an area I feel I need to improve on.


Carmel has also been thinking about how to keep an on-going faculty reflection, rather than waiting until a distant time and SLT requests for a current state of play. I’m keen for all to contribute any ideas that will save time/ease work-load. Creative ideas shouldn’t just come from the top-all need to be able to put ideas forward and try them out. I’m interested to see how this one works out and if other faculties try something similar.

David, Leon,

I was thinking of ways to collect department level evidence of sharing and reflection after our discussion yesterday. I need a way that is helpful to us as a department, uses minimal time and could be done as we go along (same criteria as we used when we developed fast marking).

I have mocked one up for you below.  I know it may appear like a list of trivial details, but these are the real items that are done day to day to build a bigger picture and that is the important point. This will then form the raw data for mine and Hannah’s reflection at the end of the year.  

I am hoping it will show our ideas and practices evolving over time and how everyone is contributing. It will be held in a spread sheet which people can add to at any point, the topic is there so we can sort by topic.

I’d like to think of it as one long set of meeting minutes, a meeting that we are all attending all the time! I anticipate most people will contribute on an adhoc but weekly basis and we have agreed that it could take the place of our after school weekly science meeting, to free up peoples time to add their contributions. Perhaps the next evolutionary step in department meetings as it is not limited by start and end times.

I have mocked up some data entries to give you an idea of the type of thing that could be included but who knows what people will add!

What do you think?

date Comment Feedback topic
HS Trialled learning by discovery with 8.5, 15 mins without any guidance and actually GOT THE CARBON CYCLE at the end. Going to try it with 8.4 next lesson. HW – can you send a link, 8.3 don’t quite get it yetHS W:\Science\Book Monitoring and observation 14-15\Summer observations\Observation resources\HS\Carbon Cycle Game.docxWS – I’ll try it too

CM  – can someone add it to the SOW pls, ta

T & L
WS Trying optional GYM homework with 8.6 CM – hmmm, let me know if they do it – could it be a step too far??HS – interestingWS – 25% have done it!

CM – that’s more than I would have expected – great idea Wendy will you do it again

WS – done another this week

WS – 45% this time, and Ella Thistlethwaite has redrafted it after id marked it! Really proud

CM – Wow amazing

HW My books are looking really good with these coloured pens. I’m doing my DIRT couple of times a week, makes marking quick. CM – can you add the dirt tasks into the SOW slidesHW – doneRM – I used them, really great thx Holly Marking
RM Coloured pens going well, books look really good but its taking too long to manage giving them out and taking in HS – try making pen packs, Val has some small plastic bagsWS – I use pen packs tooCM – pen packs didn’t work for me as pupils didn’t always put pens back in them. I’ve got wooden blocks with holes drilled in them. equipment
CM My y 11s are getting behind as they are so much slower in the afternoon – had to use my consolidation week just to finish C4 PJ – me tooRM – me too, set 2 are a real problem Tuesday afternoon. I’ve had to speak to KRHW – me too

CM – not a lot we can do except really push the pace in the Thursday lesson.

CM – my 11.6 are ahead of 11.1! that the effect of 75% afternoon lessons.

CM – Maths finding similar issue but there’s is a 50% split.

CM – shouldn’t happen next year as going to 2 week timetable.

CM Have found kerboodle – an online homework for OCR GCSE, think may be good for KS4 intervention. Got a free month trial, gives you reports of results so you can see who is struggling. HS – does it do triple too?CM yes I’ve emailed everyone logonsWS – love it, they can practice as many times as they like before doing it

RM – great ill set some

CM – I have found that setting the same one three times and getting them to do it immediately after each other works really well for recall .

HW – I’m setting them – can we order them

CM it’s in budget for next year, can use as hw too.

PJ Thought about doing a lesson using IRIS CM – Brave – let me know how it goesPJ – student teacher wants to do one too.HW – fab, let me know how she gets on.

CM – anyone else want to do IRIS?


T & L
CM Going to set up some multi choice recall quizzes on ……for lunchtime intervention if anyone wants them I can share HS – they can run them in my lab if you want.WS – can I send someCM – yes just send me list of names

WS – I will help chase people up and deliver them if you like.

CM – Ta

CM – People keep forgetting to chase up – I’ve emailed learning tutors to prompt but still not running smoothly.

WS – I think it’s because we are alternating the weeks between 11 and 10.

HS – yes I think you are right, they mean to come but just forget.

CM – let’s try and find another way, this is not being effective for anyone. Quizzes are good though so we can use them in lessons.

CM Year 10 triple girls are becoming really amazing at peer assessment and redraft – able to correct the science effectively PJ – yes I was impressed with them too.RM – 10 4 definitely not there yetCM – 10 5 ok, I’ll send you some of the scaffolds I’ve got. Marking
WS Controlled assessments running behind schedule as we don’t have enough balances HW – agreedRM – me too agreedHS – yep

PJ – defo

CM – message received (problem the 0.01g ones are £400!)

CM Going to trial ‘print your own stickers’ that Greg uses RM – I’ve seen his books I love themCM – let me know if you want a box of blanks to print on.HW – can I see some when they’re done Marking


The PE faculty worked incredibly hard during Sport’s Week [as did others!] and had to be flexible and re-arrange plans quickly when the weather turned. It really is the highlight of our school year and the team spirit both students and staff engender and display really shows the power of the alternative curriculum. The PE folks still managed to meet to share some of their ideas like the old pros that they are! This old pro, after foolishly playing in the year 8 girls 5 a side and the 2 staff v year 11 helpers’ games, has had to forsake his Sunday bike ride and write a blog because he is still stiff!

Feedback that the student acted upon and you then have the evidence that it closed a specific learning gap

Aaron- Creating dialogue with students in books, use of dot marking in psd lessons enabled me to show this within my book monitoring and I feel this has closed the gap.

Sam- Video footage of year 7 girls doing the tennis serve. Girls acted upon the advice after watching a pro tennis player and their improvements are clearly evidenced in the video footage.

Tom- Use of ipads of analysis of high jump technique, students were able to analyse their performance which lead to a massive improvement.

Rosie- Video footage for year 10 GCSE group, which helped the lower attainers watch their own and other performances to help identify targets for improvement. Video footage is evidence of before and after.

Feedback that you can evidence was a real penny dropping moment that might have taken ages to for it to drop!

Aaron- Year 9 mixed GCSE group fully understand that GCSE PE consists of 40% theory as well as 60% practical which is more challenging but has been drip fed to improve their knowledge and understanding which will bridge the gap for year 10.

Tom- Use of growth mind set in lessons to allow students to understand how to develop their skills.

Sam- Lower year 7 girls have fully understood that it is far easier to remain confident and up beat instead of letting things get to them.

Rosie- Lower year 7 girls have fully understood that is far easier to communicate and remain positive and start to use team work to achieve success rather than trying to do everything solo.

Feedback that you feel showed a tremendous piece of mind-set from the student involved in achieving it

Rosie- See book monitoring (Katie MacDonald book)- massive improvement for 10 mark questioning.

Aaron- During KS3 PE observation student gave feedback and was then asked to re-do it which was in more detail and of a much higher standard.

Tom- During observation students taking a lead learning role and developing other student’s skills through analysis of performance in cricket (Dylan Burrows).

Sam- Students used home learning to research the skeletal system producing high quality resources for their next lesson (Rachel Cresswell).

Feedback from self/peer that was a superb example of honest critique with examples/follow up checking/success

Aaron- Creating dialogue with students in books, use of dot marking in psd lessons enabled me to show this within my book monitoring and I feel this has closed the gap.

Rosie- Peer sheets for verbal/ written verification to use KS3 which had a positive effect on the assessor and the performer, which gave them confidence to critically reflect.

Tom- Year 11 exam question analysis and peer assessment (Purple pen), improving student learning.

Sam- Batting in year 8 rounders. Video footage was observed by partners and honest critique was fed back. Students then videoed them again checking that feedback was completed and success had been had.

Feedback that hit any of our current obsessions-re-drafting, innovative, fast, SPaG etc.

and, of course, any of your own choice [just tell your colleagues why you chose it and think it is your best]

GCSE PE and Dance- See books and book monitoring- PR and PEPs for GCSE PE- SPS/ TE

Thank you as always to all who have shared ideas-part 3 next!































Summer Feedback Trilogy-Part 1 The thing we use to call marking

Colleagues have been gathering their thoughts in faculties about the Magic Moments observed in our summer observations and sharing examples of their latest feedback tactics offered to line-managers during book monitoring. Although staff are tired as the term comes to its end and have been exhibiting some very different pedagogical [and other] skills during our Sport’s Week, they have still managed to celebrate their successes and hopes for next year with each other. I usually put them all together for internal purposes and then on to the external blog so others can borrow if they wish to. It’s such a huge read, that I’ve split them this time into 3 parts! Thank you to all who have contributed and continue to inspire me and allow me into their thoughts, concerns, ideas and classrooms.

Preparing the new school SEF and SIP pushed me to read the new Ofsted handbook and criteria in greater detail than the cursory glances I gave it a few weeks ago when it first appeared. My changing role will still involve professional development and it was good to see in the outstanding criteria;

Staff reflect on and debate the way they teach. They feel deeply involved in their own professional development. Leaders have created a climate in which teachers are motivated and trusted to take risks and innovate in ways that are right for their pupils.

It’s become part of our culture now that we organise our directed time and inset to allow open and honest debate about learning and teaching and risks are encouraged so that innovative ideas are trialled and should they not work; lessons are learnt. It remains important that we need to constantly seek ideas and expertise from external sources too and different approaches to the way we might think/do things are always welcome. A couple of interesting ideas re the use of book scrutinies and use of marking as a method of monitoring/checking progress are here; @mrhistoire

Our observations and book monitoring is different to many other schools, and I’m aware from colleagues who visit us, that our approach interests them whether they agree or disagree with it! I can’t hide my dislike of grading observations or tightly imposed structures for monitoring ‘marking’-BUT we do what works for us and is best for our staff and students. This doesn’t mean that we aren’t ‘Ofsted savvy’ –I need to know what they are up to support schools via our Teaching School remit and watch the subject specific current inspections like a hawk, just in case! Their outstanding feedback criteria is what you might expect [they seem to like the word incisive!] without dissecting every word and I would imagine most schools have something similar in their own policies. In Michael Tidd’s post above he gives the EEF description of feedback and we can discuss the use of oral, written or any other form of feedback at length in another blog-this one simply shares some of our current and proposed practice!

Teachers provide pupils with incisive feedback, in line with the school’s assessment policy, about what pupils can do to improve their knowledge, understanding and skills. The pupils use this feedback effectively

Pupils are eager to know how to improve their learning. They capitalise on opportunities to use feedback, written or oral, to improve.

 The questions that I asked faculties to feedback on will become apparent as you read through their responses. I’ll begin with English.

SF 1

SF 2









I’ve explained in previous blogs that I like staff to experiment with their feedback to find what is best for them and their classes within a loose whole school policy.

I will always suggest that if well-known marking acronyms/phrases are used that E is added for evidence and examples-e.g. What Went Well [Evidence of what was so good] Even Better If [Example provided] to make peer critique even tighter-same for 2 stars and a wish which is used occasionally with some of our younger lowest ability students as part of their transition from primary.

The English faculty have thought long and hard about finding quick feedback strategies which will impact both on actual specific English needs and staff workload in creating the most effective intervention tactics. They shared their new idea with the rest of the staff-this might be the last time we see some of the above slides! I can’t do justice to this using pictures and words but will explain it more after a term or so of trialling it. The maths faculty have already told me that they like this and as both faculties have begun to meet together to discuss their research project [another blog!]-watch this space!


You can see that they have designed a set of symbols to allow them to mark quickly and then use the symbols for the students to interpret and respond to as part of the feedback and dialogue process. They hope that the use of symbols and agreed intervention criteria will be easier for them to track and give a bit more time to actually intervene purposefully to support students who have struggled with certain aspects of their learning. Looks good on paper and I’m delighted to see them innovate and I will be fascinated to see if this is something that makes a difference to both sets of learners [students and teachers]





Each teacher discussed different aspects of their feedback and the risk taken during observations. A more detailed discussion will take place in September to decide faculty learning, teaching and feedback priorities-this is to give our middle leaders a real grasp of what is currently working well and areas that need professional development and will feed into the whole school SIP.

Feedback that the student acted upon and you then have the evidence that it closed a specific learning gap

TM- A variety of dialogues completed during dirt. The use of questioning allows pupils to develop their answers.  Students are challenged linking to their targets to push to the next level & grade. Students will be asked to prioritise, explain or asked the other side of an argument. With regards to GCSE questions – aimed at pushing pupils up to Level 3 of mark scheme. GCSE questions often link to skills e.g. P.E.E ensuring pupils either fully explain their answers or include relevant data to justify their answers

MD- After first book monitoring purple pens were introduced which evidenced improvements and feedback which was then checked and improvements grades were issued. This strengthened the 3 way marking process that was already in place and made it more visual.

GT- The use of level up activities within history from both peer and teacher questions has really allowed pupils to develop and improve on exam questions across KS3. Pupils use the mark scheme and their own understanding to ask questions that really push pupils to close the gap on their target grade. This is then re-marked and if successful pupils are given a ‘level up’ grade. I also really enjoyed using Helens ‘What’s missing’ activity with pupils which has allowed them to use peer providing to highlight how pupils could improve their exam answers to increase their grade/mark. It served as a great way for pupils to see where they could improve their work before redrafting it.

HY- 7.7 feedback responded which has been developed throughout the year, they have enjoyed dot marking which works well with low ability. Assessment slips show students clearly what level they are on and how to reach the next level. Students know exactly what they are working on and towards. DIRT stickers are used to show they have overcome learning challenges.

Feedback that you can evidence was a real penny dropping moment that might have taken ages to for it to drop!

ED – Low ability year 9 learning case study material on Bangladesh and retaining information was really rewarding for them and myself. Also this same group used dictionaries and GCSE text books to learn meanings of key geographical words to enable them to understand geographical text. Through this they were able to use the terminology to complete 6mark GCSE questions. Using this terminology allowed them to reach the higher marks within the question.

TM- year 10 using PEE chains. Helped them structure their 6 mark extended answers and allowed the students to gain more confidence. Over time these were withdrawn and now the students can answer there question more effectively.

MD- first observation – students completed a causal web with low ability year 10 GCSE. I adapted high ability task and added challenge which students more than lived up to which showed me that low ability thrive from aspiration and high expectations.

GT- The penny dropping moments within my last observation with Y8 history where they were applying their understanding in a solo taxonomy activity that had been introduced to the pupils that lesson. Penny drop was when Eve was able to make links between pictures that I had not initially thought of during the planning. This was even further developed in the peer assessment where pupils were encouraged to highlight further links on other pupil’s visual hexagons.

HY- with GCSE exam mats which include 6 mark answering techniques and command words students enjoy using these. Low ability year 10 who struggle with extended writing used these and were able to achieve higher levels in their questions.

Feedback that you feel showed a tremendous piece of mind-set from the student involved in achieving it

TM- Redrafting – y10 pupils redrafted their work after an assessment. Pupils showed great growth mind-set and it was clear they wanted to improve to do their very best. (example from Aleta attached)

MD- Based on feedback to a year 8 assessment 2 students returned at lunchtime and wanted to further improve their assessments to achieve a level up.

GT- I have found that a large range of my feedback opportunities have tested pupils resolve and has been a growth mind set challenge, especially for lower ability pupils as they have had to critique using success criteria. I have found modelling has supported this. Also, making improvements on level up and redrafting is a challenge for pupils as many do not like redoing work, as some of the more positive improvements really show the effort that have put into improving.

HY- Jasmine Evans didn’t make her target grade – she returned after school for extra support. This helped improve and reach her target showing a positive growth mind set.  

Feedback from self/peer that was a superb example of honest critique with examples/follow up checking/success

TM- see pictures attached showing marking.

MD- year 9 – Created a how to answer exam style question revision guide by writing on the desks. Students worked as a class to improve each desk and wipe out incorrect information collectively created an effective learning resource which has then been used when planning answers.

GT- I have found that using both peer verification has proved a really great opportunity for pupils to critique each other’s work both across KS3/KS4, it has given then a chance to develop their critique and setting targets/improvements on this. Also, I encourage pupils to write their own peer critique using WWW/EBI and setting targets/questions which are answered within the classroom.

HY- peer assessed effort in lesson of each other – BSG, different questions about group discussion, using geographical vocab and leading roles. Students self-assessed their effort and then peer assessed agreeing or disagreeing. 

Feedback that hit any of our current obsessions-re-drafting, innovative, fast, SPaG etc.

TM- Have trialled dot marking with low ability and found it very useful. Pupils are beginning to become familiar with this process and can now identify mistakes easily. Labels stuck onto lower sets to show where feedback has been left. Removed once I am happy with responses – Pupils now have high expectations when it comes to DIRT tasks as they know I will check all work. (They also seem to hate having the labels stick out of their books so are keen to get rid of them by completing high standard work!) Mock exam review – Review after mocks to identify key areas of strength and areas for development. I have found this really helpful and it allows students to easily reflect on their work.  Fast feedback – GCSE mark scheme highlighting – When pupils answer a GCSE past paper question they stick in the mark scheme long with their answer. I then use this to mark the work, highlighting where they have hit criteria of the mark scheme. This allows me to give specific feedback which links directly to what the mark scheme is looking for without having to write lots. Use of HYs GCSE mats

MD- re-drafting – using the redrafting form students were able to use peer and teacher feedback to redraft work to show clear progress.

GT- SPag Bombs, personalised stickers, SPIT marking, Highlighter Marking – These are a variety of methods I have tried to introduce help familiarise students with peer critique and to also vary the methods used so pupils are challenged and stay engaged. SPaG bombs have allowed me to focus on improving spelling of key words across KS4, whilst personalised stickers have increased my fast feedback, high level questioning and have overall made my marking more efficient.

HY- dot marking and GCSE mats, growth mind set displays, growth mind sets efforts plenary. Introducing peer assessment of GCSE questions at KS3.

Each individual teacher please also be ready to explain the ‘risk’ they took in the recent lesson observation and explain what the impact on learning was. Where will you take it next?

TM- used a role play activity with year 8 – was worried they wouldn’t participate and be shy however they excelled and verbally used their key geographical knowledge to take part effectively. They still talk about the activity as they can remember the key knowledge of the lesson clearly. Next I would give the students more responsibility within their roles and filter this through to lower ability classes.

MD- boxing to argue – developing arguing for and against skills allowing them to be in charge of decision making exercise. Pupils had to think on their feet developing their speaking and listening skills and apply this then to 10 and 12 mark questions. This will be trialled with lower ability students.

GT- A risk I took was getting pupils to set create, set, share and peer assess their own 12 mark questions at GCSE. This was a strategy new to me as it aimed to develop pupil’s skills as answering a range of questions

HY – speaking and listening – students had talk tokens given when good geographical conversations were taking place. This was with a high ability class therefore higher order terminology was required to achieve a token. This encouraged students and helped them with answering GCSE questions. After speaking to Dave I would try giving the tokens to the students and allowing them to decide when their partner deserved a token for good use of terminology.

The humanities gentlemen have shared lots of photos of their feedback in 2015 blogs so I’ll give our geography NQT Toni a clarion call for her continual refection and refining of her feedback strategies by sharing some of her snaps.

The first 3 show some targeted questioning and then the follow up self-evaluation to see that the advice/knowledge has been met/memorised.





Toni has encouraged the students [red pen] to peer assess SPaG and BSG criteria-this was an early example [Toni began her NQT in November] and Toni would now ensure an example of an explanation was given by the peer marker. This development in her feedback is seen below.


SF17  SF18


Miss then verifies the peer critique saving her time and by supporting better quality peer critique, the learners are hopefully strengthening their skills and knowledge.


And she also finds time to teach G.C.S.E geography too!


Performing Arts

The creative ladies had an early attempt at September’s inset activity-individual colleagues will share their learning/teaching and feedback triumphs and their priorities for 2015/16 [based on their appraisal foci and professional portfolio] so faculty leaders can easily collate an overall PD need to match individual and faculty needs-this then comes to me to give me a whole school picture.


For our book monitoring or scrutiny, colleagues self-evaluate their feedback first, highlighting areas of interest before passing books representative of the different cohorts to their line manager.

Some have wonderful colour schemes to represent the different factors we are currently trialling. See Toni’s below


Book scrutiny is a professional development exercise in the same spirit as our observations are developmental-this doesn’t make them a soft option! If feedback needs to be developed further, targets are agreed upon but the whole process of collaboration and sharing of ideas means that there are always examples of great practice from within our own school to go to for inspiration and guidance. I liked Sophie’s idea of including her summer evaluation after her Autumn/winter one so that she could link and explain her own professional progress and development over this



Thank you to all who shared their ideas in part 1. Part 2 will star our scientists!

Thanks for reading












On your marks, get set-feedback!

The first directed time meetings of 2015 have given faculties the opportunity to discuss our new BSG assessment system and to moderate/share reflections and to return to the ineradicable theme of feedback and marking. All colleagues have been involved in the individual book monitoring process and good practice has already been shared in internal and external blogs. Our Tuesday night meetings provided the chance for subject leaders to highlight the best practice that they had observed in the book scrutiny and for faculty members to bring the ideas that they have been most pleased with to show their colleagues. They were asked to bring to their respective tables, examples which matched the following criteria;

  • Best marking innovation/idea trialled
  • Best/numeracy SPaG marking
  • Best fast feedback/time saving but effective marking
  • Best dialogue back from students/impact of students successfully achieving feedback given [this doesn’t have to be marked by you]
  • Best self/peer critique
  • Best use of DIRT
  • Most challenging feedback/marking
  • Best differentiated marking
  • Best exam prep
  • Owt else you really like and others should know about

All faculty colleagues should have examples submitted for sharing.

These are areas we have been working on as a school and examples are constantly shared to avoid any hints of inconsistency within subjects or across the whole school. Students are entitled to high quality feedback that best supports their learning in every classroom in this school. I don‘t like the words ‘non-negotiable’ but this is as near as it gets! What is negotiable and open to professional choice is how our school policy is adapted to suit individual and subjects. I’ve explained this and shared so many examples previously of what our ‘bottom line’ is and how colleagues have been trialling different strategies to find the best ones that match whole school and individual/subject/class learning needs. It is relatively easy, in any school, to find wonderful examples of amazing feedback from some teachers-what it isn’t easy to do is to find wonderful examples from EVERY teacher including SLT-this is just one of the ways that we are trying to create a collaborative environment to allow great marking and feedback to be humanly possible.

Every teacher in MCHS has contributed to this compilation/recent marking blogs.  Some of our feedback/marking ideas are here but most blogs have feedback examples in them-it’s that important!

Provided that the feedback is delivered appropriately and quickly, orally or written, as the students are learning, in the ‘old’ written way after the lesson, that it makes them think and gives them more work to do than the teacher giving it, that they have time to check, understand, respond successfully, be verified, get DIRTy, only receive the same feedback once  AND their learning improves as a result and both teacher and student can provide the evidence of this and convince me that the learning has ‘stuck’-I’m a happy man.


Consequently there are a whole range of shared tactics that may suit one MCHS teacher but not another; however it is crucial for our professional development that we provide as many different internal and external examples as possible and increasingly consult the research which may suggest the comparative validity of the examples. Student voice should also be consulted and this will appear in our next long blog.

Our SCIENCE faculty regularly scrutinise books in their timetable planning meetings and I fed-back on their 30 second marking trial in an earlier blog.

These are some of their latest examples.

Best marking innovation/idea trialled

Coloured pens to speed up marking, highlight reflection and improvements – CM but used as standard across dept


FD use of coloured pens


Best/numeracy SPaG marking

Numeracy self-marking to emphasise distribution of marks and keyword focus. CM

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Best fast feedback/time saving but effective marking

Students complete work / peer or self-assess / redraft / verify before final teacher check. HS

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Best dialogue back from students/impact of students successfully achieving feedback given [this doesn’t have to be marked by you]

WS Self critique after GCSE module exam, reflection about what when well and areas for improvement. Followed up by teacher advice.


Best self/peer critique

First red section is self-assessment using a mark scheme, then a redraft to show improvement. Second page is peer assessment critique.

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Peer assessment, then a redraft based on suggested improvement, then teacher question to further extend.

Best use of DIRT


Example of DIRT shown below. Student answered an open ended question and after initial marking was pushed further to describe the function of each part of the cell. They responded and teacher asked them a further question to be answered.


Best exam prep

RM’s students identified the topics they found most difficult leading up to the exam. Their partner then wrote three challenging questions on this topic, which was then peer assessed, improved, and peer verified.



You can see that the scientists have been trying their best to encourage re-drafting and encouraging signs across the school have been seen in our monitoring-not popular with the students but important to keep pushing ‘excellence’ as par for the course when the books are handed in for their final mark. Some teachers have trialled using notebooks-this is from Katie Fleetwood’s book scrutiny’

How have you tried to get them to give you ‘nearly perfect’ work in for marking/used re-drafting?

Draft work books for example with year 9 story they had to redraft work to ensure it was the best it could be. Quality of work finally produced was much higher than initially.

DIRT provides the ideal time for this as Sarah Cunliffe explained in her book scrutiny;

How have you tried to get them to give you ‘nearly perfect’ work in for marking/used re-drafting?

Pupils when completing DIRT tend to improve their work to a higher standard which either probes the sub-text at a deeper level or addresses another specific assessment criteria

Other methods of improving answers-re-drafting shorter exam style questions were explained by Martin Davis in his book scrutiny.

How have you tried to get them to give you ‘nearly perfect’ work in for marking/used re-drafting?

We use mark schemes to help students see what “perfect” looks like. Students then peer assess and provide ways to help reach full marks. We also discuss common misconceptions/mistakes as a class to help during DIRT.

Students are encouraged in DIRT to reach full marks using the feedback.

The use of self and peer critique to re-draft is beginning to work well and I saw a glorious example in Sophie McQueenie’s very able year 11 drama class when the students peer critiqued using dot marking. They left dots on the page where they felt one of the key criteria for achieving top drama marks had been missed-no clues were given and the students then had to re-read their work and find their error. They were then given a timed period to re-draft incorporating their response to the feedback before re-submitting to their peer and then Miss.

I did spot WWW and EBI in the science examples and was talking this week to a colleague [I can’t recall who-there’s a surprise!!] and asking that they make sure the students add an example and impact to Even Better If [Example, Impact of my suggestion will be…] and What Went Well [Impact this had on your learning] Just suggestions!

Our MFL faculty sent me their examples.

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For a more detailed account of peer critique in MFL, last January the second half of this blog tells more and shares examples.

Our PERFORMING ARTS trio explained their ideas in some detail and added lots of photos to display their feedback in action.

Best Marking innovation/idea trialled:

  • New ‘sticker’ sheets in drama are effective during peer/self/teacher assessment. Everything is structured and shapes feedback well pushing students to include key vocabulary. Everything is contained on one sheet and can be referred back to during class activities.
  • Use of ‘hi five’ for plenaries acts as a clear summary of learning which supports self and teacher assessment and saves both time when marking/doing check backs. Progress star for evaluation at end of topic is also a clear and concise and saves time.

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Best Feedback/time saving but effective marking:

  • Cover sheets have been redesigned in music to make explicit use of ‘DIRT’ through the acronym ‘SPADE’ and is clearly structured featuring tick boxes making check backs and marking much faster. Also progress star/hi five as mentioned above make feedback clear, concise and structured but are so clearly laid out that it is saving students and teachers time.

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Best dialogue back from students:

  • Year 11 drama books making good use of ‘dot’ marking and redrafting, making comments about the specific gaps in exam questions which have been identified through use of assessment criteria. Comments are addressed immediately by students who write the missing information out again underneath it. Feedback received is written again at the top of next piece of work to remind them to include it next time.

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  • Feedback sheets done with year 10 music during one to ones filled in collaboratively to agree specific targets following self-assessment.

Best self/peer critique:

  • Most feedback is done verbally in KS3, but use of assessment mats in music and drama has resulted in excellent use of vocabulary that is structured into sentences.
  • KS3 music books feature ‘2 stars and a wish’ peer assessment which is supported by the mats and demonstrates excellent clear, music specific feedback regarding performances and composition. Year 9 have identified specific features such as strong leader, clear structure and creation of polyrhythm through syncopated ostinatos.

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Best Use of DIRT:

  • DIRT is used after assessment and in review lessons in both drama and music. In music responses are recorded in books on the cover sheets using ‘SPADE’ and respond directly to feedback given by teacher. All require supporting evidence and must be signed, dated and verified.
  • Use of dot marking with year 11 drama has required ‘DIRT’ in order to decode the dots which do not use a key. They need time to revisit the set structures and decide what is missing.

Most challenging Feedback/marking:

  • Year 11 drama must now always check they have included the ‘top five’ and cannot achieve band one without these key words. They are being pushed to include higher level details from the A Level specification which detail how the performance shows time/place as well as explaining the intentions of the character. Year 10 are doing this but also making reference to A Level practitioners.
  • Year 10 music are being pushed to include modulations and key changes in compositions which is a higher level expectation of compositions. Marking and feedback is very specific and detailed when asking for features to be included/developed. ‘DIRT’ is essential for students to understand and implement these ideas.

Best Differentiated Marking:

  • Targets set in music are differentiated between upper and lower sets in accordance with the new assessment criteria (B/S/G) to make them achievable. Challenge is increased higher up the sets.
  • Year 11 drama marking shows evidence of more specific detailed support given to weaker students for exam prep, with structures, sentence starters and scaffolding used.

Best Exam Prep:

  • AB’s feedback from performance assessments to year 10 is specific and detailed, addressing all 3 areas of the criteria with points for improvements and suggestions for next time. Student’s feedback to this is clear and demonstrates understanding. Furthermore, the more harsh feedback still preserves their feelings!
  • Drama feedback at KS4 for the written exam uses specific terminology acronyms such as ‘top 5’ to prompt students to include key words and ‘SPATCA/SFASWA/SCAMPER’ to supporting structuring of exam questions.

Adele’s lesson study

Katrina and I observed Adele’s lesson study where she introduced her Modulation Toolkit and we saw the power of peer critique providing feedback as the students worked so that they could use each other’s advice to produce a quite difficult composition task. The faculty are trying to introduce A level concepts into their G.C.S.E. lessons to add additional challenge and aspiration-modulation, so they tell me, is a tough challenge! The students worked on their own task on the tables, before the peers critiqued the work, leaving advice, which was then used to help them produce the composition on the manuscript. [think I’ve got that right-I’m just a drummer!]

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Not to be outdone in Katrina’s return leg she used the drama studio floor as a giant Pinterest Board and again the students could add their own peer critique in a very physical and engaging way-fast intervention as they were working and then acted upon. The peer critique critiqued peer critique of the latest show-if you see what I mean!

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Our leading exponents of using technology to support all aspects of feedback are ICT and business studies. Tim and Claudio shared these current in initiatives with us.

Best marking innovation/idea trialled

Extensive use of Edmodo.

Best fast feedback/time saving but effective marking


Use of badges in edmodo to deliver feedback for each topic. Highlighting labels so as it is easy to pick up on what they need to do to progress further.


This is an example of a class. It shows clearly which students have completed which sections and that they have been awarded a badge.

Best dialogue back from students/impact of students successfully achieving feedback given [this doesn’t have to be marked by you]

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We have used Edmodo so as the students can upload their work, I can look at it and review it and then comment on it. This gives the students the oportunity to update their work and upload the latest version with amendments. The grading shows what they can achieve and what they have achieved.


This edmodo conversation is about feedback to the marking that teachers have done for their work.

Best self/peer critique


Students are able to post to the wall there work electronically. From there all students in the class are able to comment on the work. Therefore 30 students could post work at the same time and entire group giving mass feedback on all of the work at the same time.


We have also been using the AB Tutor software to exhibit students work to their peers in lesson time this has proved very popular when students critique their peers work. It is also a great way of getting instantaneous feedback.

Best use of DIRT


This is a screenshot of a student’s peer assessment of another students work, I have given them the criteria to think about when evaluating their peers work but asked the students to write down anything that they though was a reasonable review point.

Best exam prep

51This is a revision booklet we are trialling for Year 11 revision. The students are cutting images from past paper questions and using these to make notes on the specific subject matter.

And from Colin in BUSINESS STUDIES.

Year 11 mocks GCSE Business Studies unit 3 – class intervention and book monitoring


Students underperformed in the following areas in unit 3:

Topic knowledge: Sources of finance

Exam skills: 10 Markers, not focusing on 4 factors or completing a sufficient conclusion.



I planned an interactive 10 marker Business problem on sources of finance that students had to tackle in groups.

Stage 1

Students cut up the case study and put into correct categories:

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Stage 2

They complete a suitable 10 mark question on google docs using suitable command words.  


Stage 3

Students had to come to a Judgement in group’s using the ‘flexible thinking 10 maker scheme’ and use the Business Frisbee to go through the 10 maker scheme.


Stage 4

Students complete their own responses to the question in google docs


Stage 5

Students receive peer feedback on the comment option in google docs and then teacher feedback in 10 marker flexible sheets. The Focus is on considering the upsides and downsides of 4 factors (4 sources of finance) and improving conclusions.

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Stage 6

Students reflect on their progress on the interactive tracking sheet on Moodle

Stage 7

Student make improvements using my feedback and show improvements on progress sheets

All Students now have the grade boundaries for each unit at the front of their folders so they know what to aim for. It also demonstrates how gaining 10 marks would help them make marginal gains towards their overall unit 3 final mark!


Year 11 mocks GCSE Business Studies unit 2 – Controlled assessment marking

All students controlled assessment have been marked. A new Assessment sheet has been used that also includes Junes 2014 grade boundaries (see below)


Unit 1 multiple choice self and peer feedback

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Unit 3 Extended answer 6 markers [all class can see each other’s Q/A and ‘buddy’ up for peer support


End of unit student tracking sheet [shared with students]

Deleted for external blog

Student tracking sheet [self-critique]


Peer assess Business Buddy Moodle [peer critique]


PIC guide to support reading and selecting relevant information, re-drafting FAIL

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The Achilles heel of our marking and written feedback some years ago was the PE department-it was new to them, as was classroom teaching and the theory aspect of their G.C.S.E. examinations was also proving to be much weaker than their practical work. Their written feedback and advice needed to support their theory lessons as well, if not better, than their oral feedback supported the excellent achievements in the practical elements. Tom and I have spoken at length about how we can use DIRT in theory lessons to reinforce feedback received in practical lessons and we discussed much more!

You make the point that much of the feedback that needs checking by the students to see that it has been met is often placed in the context of practical sport so my suggestion would be to;

  • Remind the students at the beginning of their practical session to recall their SPADE feedback [if applicable] and to work on it in the lesson.
  • The next time that you have theory-begin with DIRT that asks them to recap on their successful [or not] achievement of their feedback in their last practical lesson-you kill two birds with 1 stone then. If you wanted to use DIRT to go over the verbal feedback given in the practical lesson only in the next theory lesson-that also would be a great chance to recall and consider and mix practical with theory. OR you could set a task at the end of your theory lesson in your spade that they have to consider on the next practical and feedback in the next theory!
  • Get the students to respond to your questions in a different coloured pen-not just so I can work out if they are answering your question but a] it makes it important and their brain might just recall their answer better [dodgy science but possible] b] it makes it easier for them to pick out key bits to revise c] If you use a different coloured pen again for peer assessment-you can really identify quickly the different aspects of marking when you are monitoring your faculty books and the students like the different pens and respond well!
  • You said you set different questions BUT are they differentiated deliberately? Could I tell by your questioning who were your most able? Or could I work out which aspects of the course the individual was struggling with?
  • You mentioned peer assessing of exam papers-are they then adding on peer suggestions/advice for making the marks up to the full quota [in their different coloured pens!] Look at the hist/geog examples of how, for instance, if a student got 4 marks-the peer suggests how to get the missing 2 to get full marks-the student responds with their answer and the peer and teacher can check. You may do this.
  • If you get the students to associate re-drafting with the marginal gains needed in practical lessons to achieve their best performance that may help with the psychology of it. Nothing should be given to you that isn’t almost excellent-they don’t like re-drafting-it’s hard work-but once their marks begin to improve and you add in peer support, they should respond better.
  • SPaG doesn’t amount to many marks but they might cost a grade and just be aware that spelling key words correctly will count for nothing if basic SPaG is incorrect-it is their/there that marks are usually lost!

PE are determined to provide the very best that they can in the classrooms and in practical sessions and they have been involved in lesson study development of peer critique [oral feedback] and have deliberately chosen their theory lessons to be observed in both appraisal, lesson study and peer observations and have always sought advice and feedback re their marking-Teacher Growth Mind-Set in action. They display their CPD foci and targets clearly so others can support and celebrate the success and development of each other.

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Peer critique with specific feedback.

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Are you PROUD?

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Rosie’s dance exam question advice-used as self/peer critique.

Below, Sam’s Xmas with starters, mains and Xmas pud to support exam question structure.

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Rosie PEER assessing with feedback and highlighted key areas of dance before verifying and commenting briefly.



Rosie and Aaron’s lesson study peer critique mat.


PE’s new SPADE and BUCKET marking showing dialogue, DIRT and successful completion of feedback.


I’ve shared quite a lot of the HUMANITIES faculty feedback and marking of late-the latest one being in a blog on NQTs and peer critique-examples of maths , history and geography and just before Xmas; Peaky Humanities Blinders with more history and geography.

I’m not biased of course but they do give me the chance to share my own marking and feedback tactics in context, for all to see-as I should do! I didn’t go to their meetings so they had a bit of peace and didn’t feel under pressure and have to thank Martin, in the absence of the 2 new mums, in organising the 3 NQTs and their sharing of their M and F. These are their examples.

Humanities Marking Examples


Peer Critique – Developing pupil skills to argue against a defended position.



Dot Marking – Focus on improving SPAG in lower ability levels.


Dialogue – Peer Assess, Teacher Assess and DIRT feedback and replies. [purple for peer, green teacher, red DIRT self-response

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Use of DIRT and Targeted questioning to improve and test pupils understanding. [BSG criteria being used-teacher –green pen, student-purple]


Target Setting – Peer and self-target setting


Purple Pen of Progress – Dialogue with pupils/teacher and purple pen to make improvements.


Redrafting – Recompleting work to improve their work and regarded.


Peer Verification – Across KS4-KS4 and low to high ability


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Peer Assessment for Assessments using Success Criteria

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Pupil Response to DIRT questioning


Dialogue with pupils to extend answers and develop knowledge.


Peer assessment on exam question – even after getting 6/6 always further developing answers. Peers must give specific advice/examples


More peer assessment after numerous GCSE questions.


Poor peer feedback – response to my marking shows how much more answer could be developed by pupils.



KS3 books – Before starting their written assessments pupils reflected on their last piece of written work and have given themselves a target of how they could achieve gold. They were encouraged to look back at this with the success criteria throughout their assessment to have a clear idea of how to succeed. This worked well and encouraged pupils to focus on their weaknesses from the previous assessment.

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A variety of dialogues completed during DIRT. The use of questioning allows pupils to develop their answers.

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Peer and self-assessment



Self-Assessment of strengths- chance to argue over their grade and “sell” work to me


Continuation of per verification at KS4- Adding in literacy marking and debate over grades for each exam style Q


Specific feedback which links to questioning- DIRT time verified by teacher/peer



Sarah collated a variety of different examples from her other English colleagues. Very artistic Sarah!

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Laura has used a nice DIRT idea borrowed from twitter.


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My MATHEMATICS colleagues are always trying to find the most appropriate written and oral feedback strategies for their different classes, and individuals within them. They have focused their lesson studies on their most and least able and are now considering their level 4 on entry students, especially disadvantaged ones, to ensure that they make comparable progress with their other students. Of equal importance will be their response in their planning, teaching and feedback to the changes in the maths curriculum and G.C.S.E.-a blog on its own!

  • Best marking innovation/idea trialled

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Setting peer designed questions

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  • Best/numeracy SPaG marking

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  • Best fast feedback/time saving but effective marking

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  • Best dialogue back from students/impact of students successfully achieving feedback given [this doesn’t have to be marked by you]

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  • Best self/peer critique

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  • Best use of DIRT
  • Tackling issues from homework

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  • Most challenging feedback/marking

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  • Best differentiated marking

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  • Best exam prep


  • Owt else you really like and others should know about

New challenge questions


New problem solving question with year 9 to help develop fluency

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New Peer marking WWW and EBI


Unfortunately RE Jen is poorly at the moment-get well soon-so I’ll share RE’’s marking later on. Some colourful examples from our ART/DESIGN TECHNOLOGY faculty next.

Examples from Josie;

Year 7 – Those Little Things

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Year 8 – Train Tickets

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Year 8 – Peer Assessment

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Year 9 Those Little Things focussed feedback and DIRT

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Some G.C.S.E examples of sharing the exam criteria, teacher feedback and dialogue from Katie.

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One of the big issues with the more practical subjects is that much of the feedback given is verbal-as the students are working, the teacher will move around intervening when appropriate and giving feedback to help with any misconceptions, raising questions about how improvements could be made, my favourite questions of challenging them as to why ‘have you done it this way, can you think of a different way, where can you take your learning next’ and so on and so on. This hopefully happens in every lesson-the best kind of feedback is quick intervention that directly impacts on the learning NOW-with time to reflect for the students on their intervention in DIRT. It isn’t possible to keep a record of all of this valuable teacher or peer feedback by writing everything down-the moment may be lost then anyway and the flow of the lesson interrupted and if the recording of verbal feedback is just to keep Jonesy or Ofsted happy when books are monitored-it probably isn’t being done for the right reason and won’t be effective!

Some colleagues do use verbal feedback stampers-I will buy them and recommend they are used to help the students recall key feedback points at the end of the lesson so that next lesson they can check them and action them. They can evidence their successful response to their feedback to self, peer or teacher at an appropriate time-there is another stamper for this to save time. This type of fast feedback positive intervention seems a sensible approach to support both the teacher workload and student learning and fits in with our overall feedback policy.

Tony gave me a couple of examples of a year 7 student demonstrating this in action and commented that;

Ongoing verbal feedback is instigated by teacher backed up with ‘teacher verified’ and ‘verbal feedback given’ stampers. This is used every lesson and guides students towards areas that they can further improve – marginal gains. Students have the opportunity to address the feedback requests and guidance through teacher verbal feedback.  They spend this time working with peers making improvements to the quality of their work and asking questions of each other to help solve problems. Students self and peer assess their work in practical projects and in project work.

Students often write on the back of their peers work, setting targets for improvement which are then acted on.

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Aimee in food technology sent some of her recent self and peer BSG critique examples to share.

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There are so many examples but, of course, the selection only scrapes the surface of the written and oral feedback from teachers, peers and self that happens on a daily basis. Some of the other blogs have far more detailed examples from individuals or faculties and the idea is if you spot something that interests you-you need to go and ask to find out more! I am interested in the fastest most effective strategies to ease workload but I’m also aware of the potential, power of specific focused feedback and marking in areas of learning that both internal and external data has shown to be under-performing. If Hattie and others are right about the effect sizes of effective feedback, then we have to bear this in mind when we are considering our intervention tactics to ensure that progress of all cohorts and all subjects is constantly above the expected/more than expected measures for national progress. If we have thoughts about being a great school [and why shouldn’t we!] we have to beat such targets in every aspect of RAISE [we almost did] and have to aim in all areas to help ‘disadvantaged’ students equal or beat the other student grades.

Leon, in the governors’ curriculum meeting, talked about building a staff +1 mind-set, in terms of adding the magical 1 grade above expected progress-the staff were delighted when he showed the fruits of their work in the lovely green of RAISE but we know that in English, our level 5 students need attention, in maths, our L4 students were comparatively weak and other subject such as PE will have spotted anything at all that resembles a slight dip [PE A*/A] Beginning in year 7, we need to plan to use our marking and feedback to immediately support our areas for improvement-I’m not sure that we’ve thought as strategically as this before-perhaps we should?

Colleagues are certainly sharing their progress matrices with students and a valid suggestions to get from green to purple, as the students say, is to act on great teacher feedback-let’s give it them whilst at the same time digging deeper with some of our research into the impact of our marking and its contribution to the learning progress that at the moment is pleasing, but still needs to climb above +1! Imagine the celebrations we could have if we pull that off for our students!

They also have to play their part in adopting the GM that welcomes critique and seeks out and acts on the excellent advice they are being given. All our hard work will count for nowt, if they don’t engage in the dialogue, self and peer critique, DIRT etc. that they are being asked to. More of how we can continue to develop their role and what exactly their opinions are on effective marking and feedback will be in the next big blog. I’ve already began ‘walking’ and this morning began to gather student evidence and I offer a quick preview from the delightful Arwen in year 7 who in response to my question,

“Show me/tell me about an example of when you have received feedback from your teacher and you have responded with your own target and successfully achieved the advice given.”

Arwen chose this example from Rachael H in English and was able to tell me how she successfully met Rachael’s wish and Arwen’s own action points [sentence starters] in a later piece of work. Not sure of “well-spelt” but I got the gist and enjoyed a very informative morning with students representing all of our English teachers. Lots more to come and vital that the students are constantly involved in the feedback discussions.








CPD-The one where our NQTs did peer assessment

Our NQTs finished their first term at Xmas with Lisa successfully completing her year in October and Toni beginning hers then. They received their additional CPD on Wednesday evenings from a range of colleagues and then were asked to suggest other topics which they wanted to learn more about. Peer assessment [or critique as some call it] and especially peer assessment with our lower ability students came up as a concern. Perhaps that’s my fault for including it and not explaining again for new staff in our recent marking/feedback criteria, book monitoring, DIRT and GM inset and internal blogs-this probably makes it seem for NQTs as though peer assessment has to happen all of the time, with every class and with every learner-it may be the right time to consider its use as an effective learning and teaching strategy.

Sometimes when I’ve had plenty to say or ideas to share on a topic, I don’t necessarily review its effect on learning as quickly as I should or encourage others to do the same. It’s also easy to forget that NQTs may not have ever had a ‘learning conversation’ about different aspects of teaching that more experienced teachers see as the ‘norm’. Examples of peer assessment and research on it appear in our big marking blogs, noticeably these two;

Our original and more recently NQT examples in;

I can’t even remember when we started to ‘do’ peer assessment-perhaps it came with group-work and national strategies, AFL and eventually Ofsted. Like any other teaching strategy it shouldn’t just appear here because Jonesy says so! If done well it’s a difficult teaching strategy to employ-done badly and in haste, because you are worried that MCHS expects you to do it-don’t go there! I do worry about the formulaic approach to teaching that many NQTs come with for whatever reason-experienced teachers here [and leaders] need to model flexibility, adaptability and be able to react to the learning needs presented. There are so many individual and class needs to consider that it’s worth re-considering the big questions below before trialling your ideas in class, measuring the impact and adapting-if you think that peer assessment will be a worthwhile learning activity.

Our session began with quickly completing an A3 sheet to prompt discussion and help me gauge experience and concerns. The research bits were left blank to begin with. Without any prompting from me they jotted down some initial thoughts based on their short experience firstly in their ITT and then in their first term here. Their own experiences are the best place to begin with the most important question to ask of any pedagogy-

  • Does it help learning in your classroom? Followed by;
  • If it doesn’t at the minute but you can see the value of it and want it to work-that’s fine-we can help.
  • If you have tried it, it doesn’t work and you can’t see any value in supporting learning-abandon it or listen to others who have an opposite view-are they right, do you want to see them in action?
  • Has it worked with some and not others-why not-we can help.
  • Have you tried it, adapted it-show and tell us more.
  • Have you observed someone else teaching PA-what did you learn?

PAWe discussed peer assessment in general to begin with and the main positive aspects that they thought of amongst many others were;

  • The students can learn from each other.
  • They can question each other.
  • Encourages team work/confidence.
  • Allows private reflection.
  • Gives insight into other methods of doing something.
  • View common misconceptions.
  • Views from peers might mean more.
  • May take help from peers better than from the teacher.
  • Using the mark schemes reinforced essential learning/knowledge/skills.
  • Extends knowledge/answers

I was interested to see that they didn’t mention PA as a time-saver for marking/fast feedback or its role in growth mind-set/preparing for life but their negative aspects of PA held few surprises.

  • Silly/not useful comments.
  • Time consuming [FS subjects only have 1 lesson a week in KS3]
  • Inaccurate answers-can bring misconceptions rather than stop them.
  • Can cause a lack of confidence when better work is critiqued.
  • They struggle to think of their own questions to raise-some too easy-some too hard
  • Long-winded explanations.

Their specific concerns with low ability students attempting PA [their initial CPD request] focused on;

  • Their difficulty in processing instructions.
  • So much support was needed that learning time was wasted.
  • Does the time spent really help progress?
  • Basic issue of not being able to read each other’s writing.
  • Sometimes it went on for too long and was incomplete anyway.
  • If it worked out to be too complicated that had a knock on effect on behaviour.
  • The quality of the answers and feedback wasn’t always worth it.
  • They found it harder to pick pout the key pints for marks.

We briefly chatted about the use of more able students being linked with students of less ability in both our mixed and set groups-the old stuff about learning by teaching others and that is fine for some occasions but if it is always the case, the learning gain is one-way-the more able need to work with each other to challenge their learning sometimes too whilst students of similar abilities can ‘struggle’ with a problem and have the learning satisfaction of conquering it!

The group decided that teaching peer assessment was different for more reasons than low or high ability-some salient points based on their experience.

  • Different with different ages-more difficult with younger students whilst they learned PA skills. Their first attempts at learning often don’t give feedback that will help learning progress.
  • Low ability sets have less students-smaller numbers make it easier.
  • Higher sets have larger numbers-can make it more difficult but they access the vocabulary more easily.
  • Really makes a big difference at G.C.S.E. level [more later]
  • The amount of lessons per week influences planning.
  • Different in different subjects-PA in MFL is hard to create dialogue, maths use to be marking right or wrong.
  • Some sets and some students are far more amenable to peer interaction of any nature than others! [I wouldn’t attempt PA until I knew the class really well.]

For those who had already attempted a fair bit of peer assessment they had realised quickly that their planning needed to include the following;

  • Specific vocab and structure.
  • Very clear criteria and mark scheme [as student friendly as possible]
  • Clear instructions-what exactly should the students include when assessing or giving feedback.
  • Broken down in stages for the low ability sets.
  • The use of purple pens, EBI, WWW often helps.

We did discuss the semantics involved-they thought that ‘assessment’ sounded more like a tick box approach whereas ‘critique’ suggested a more thoughtful approach with evidence and advice given. It does sound like ‘critic’ to the students but it fits nicely with our GM and perhaps we should use the C word and explain to our classes why we have decided to use it and the more mature approach it expects from learners.

Some of their initial thoughts may have been shaped by what they have read on our shared blogs or at their ITT schools or courses-that’s fine but there are other views and we looked at extracts from 4 different educational books, just skimming and scanning to highlight ideas that might provide solutions or guidance. In the busy school day and after school planning and marking, it isn’t always possible to check out more theoretical ideas as the need to find ready-made resources tends to take precedent. Mixing a bit of both, we moved onwards! Extracts of differing lengths were from; ‘Feedback and Marking’ by Robert Powell, ‘Evidence Based Teaching’ by Geoff Petty, ‘Putting AFL into Practice’ by David Spendlove and ‘Perfect AFL’ by Claire Gadsby.


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We had already considered solutions but were able to add a couple more that they liked.

  • Structures as mentioned previously.
  • Oral rather than written feedback is fine-the learning anticipated may be more to do with communicating ideas rather than imparting knowledge/specific feedback.
  • Simplified criteria tick boxes will support feedback and provide discussion points.
  • Stems need to be in some cases to get the questions/feedback flowing.
  • Colour coordinated is nice!
  • What Petty calls ‘spoof’ feedback-examples to peer critique from other classes/teacher models before using the actual class work-builds confidence. Seen in lots of my observations along with the use of WAGOLLS!
  • Get the students to write their own questions and mark-schemes to use on each other-again observed in more experienced teacher’s lessons and a good ‘un-so much useful learning in this activity.
  • If you like ‘effect size research’-claimed that peer feedback done well has a good impact but done well and done quickly after the initial learning-even better.

The humanities faculty are very keen on their development of peer critique and both Greg and Andy felt that in their G.C.S.E. classes, they could evidence the positive impact of PC especially when the students were giving extra advice to build up answers for the 6 mark questions. The process had helped their students to understand the key marking processes and to see the need to include reasoning to attain top marks. This was becoming embedded as an important teaching tool in KS4 but was more problematic in KS3. Greg had used peer critique to provide feedback to move up the BSG leader and had developed a ‘staged’ approach towards supporting his less able students access PC. Helen had also used very brief PC when her younger classes were working on their BSG but the linguistic barrier to offering target language feedback is a tough one and she will look to the ideas developed by Helen H and Bronagh with their MONSIEUR and SENORITA-explained in the marking blogs and in this blog from exactly 1 year ago.

The difference between ‘assessment’ and ‘critique’ was highlighted by Beth when she explained that she has tried to move beyond right or wrong peer ticking to getting her students to peer critique the processes involved in answering her maths problems and when she plays the maths favourite-‘beat the teacher’ when the sum and working out are given to the class to dissect to find Miss’s mistakes. She will then ask WWW and EBI.

Toni has the unenviable task of taking over, on a maternity cover to begin with, from two more experienced teachers and although we brought her in early to work with Emma before she had her baby, her priority is with year 10 and 11 [hence the very handsome teaching assistant she has in those lessons!] and she has to make the decision of whether or not peer critique is for her at this moment in her fledgling career. If she fancies having a go with KS3, it would make a good joint lesson planning venture and observation or I can model with KS4. The other NQTs because they started earlier are all paired up for lesson study and can work on tricky pedagogy with their partner-Toni might have to end up with me-sorry!

These are some of Greg’s early attempts at PC shared in October as he experimented and trialled ideas. The red comments suggest possible stems the students can use but they would have to explain their chosen sentence and provide an example.

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Red peer critique and feedback given to which the students respond to in purple to increase their score.

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Yesterday’s peer critique with the lowest set in year 7-my advice is to add a section where the student respond to the peer critique by agreeing/disagreeing/pinching ideas.

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Beth shared her examples below and explained her thinking for us-this is a really important process for her to develop, important for me to see it happening and important for any teacher to respond to the learning as it unfolds. Our lesson study encourages anticipation of the learning that may happen and planning for it/or for anticipated misconceptions. Learning isn’t an exact science like this and there is an excitement [ok despair sometimes!] when the students throw spanners into our planned works and we use our skill to react and adapt-NQTs have to learn this quickly!

The explanations are Beth’s words.

I first trialled peer-assessment with my year 9 class in the autumn term, during the previous lessons we has been working on finding prime factors and then using them to find LCM and HCF. They had had quite a bit of practice on this so we started the lesson with them answering a question in their own books.


They then swapped books and we discussed the key processes of answering a question on HCF and LCM as there were several stages to go through. (See below)


We then practised peer-assessing my attempt at answering the question. I deliberately left some of the steps out in order for us to discuss improvements. We came up with What Went Well (WWW) and what could have been done better. (EBI)

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The pupils were then asked to do the same with their peer’s work. They had to identify which of the key steps their peer had done well, and then had to suggest an improvement for their work.

I feel the lesson helped us to really “home in” on the key steps to answering a question on LCM and HCF.

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After our discussion at the meeting last night I also tried a similar technique with year 7 this afternoon.

They had been working on the topic of angles in parallel lines for a lesson or two and were comfortable with answering standard questions on this topic. To stretch them I gave them a problem solving question which required them to give a proof (shown in book below)

I then allowed the class to attempt to answer the question, they then swapped books and we discussed the key processes of answering the question.

I then asked them to give their peer one WWW and one EBI. They had to state which of the processes their peer had managed to do. And then give one way to improve their work. (A lot of the class needed to add in a final sentence to complete the proof).

Again I think our discussion as a class and the peer assessment helped them to recognise the key steps in answering a longer “proof” question like this and showed them the importance of giving reasons for their answers.

I’m hoping to give them the second proof to answer next lesson, and see if they are able to give an improved answer to this second question as a result of the peer assessment.

Pictures below, pupils answer the problem in their coloured pens, peer-assessment is done in purple.

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Me again!

I had already invited those who could to see me modelling peer critique with my very low ability year 8 class and low-middle ability year 8 class. I discussed in our humanities blog [above] that ability shouldn’t be a barrier to any teaching tactics that I think will support and move learning on. Peer interaction of any kind offers vital communication opportunities which some of our students find difficult so I’m always keen for them to maturely talk to each other about their learning and to compromise and learn from others. The criteria for the critique/discussion, I thought offered access to all of my students and I’m quite happy to see lots of talk and not much writing. I’m lucky enough to have 2 TAs with one class to help with any writing or other worries the students may have. Some are fearful of sharing their work, some have learning needs-Asperger’s, dyslexia, hearing, EAL etc. which make written or oral responses difficult and stressful BUT as their mind-set develops they will have a go for me! [As they suck their lollies!]

I was keen to model peer verification-our idea of trying to make peer critique more accurate by adding in a 2nd assessor [and make the feedback and discussion have more body to it] and wanted to also show the key element, often missed, of going back to the original self-assessor and asking if they agreed with the advice given and had they changed their original views as a result of the critique. Both classes critiqued posters they had made so it will be sometime before I come back to the advice given and check that it has been acted upon in the next piece of similar learning.

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The volcano one allows ticks for 3 sections, if need be and the TAs and myself ran round to see if those who ticked could justify their choice. Others were happy to write short sentences and in our class discussion they agreed that it had been a pleasant experience that they could access and understand, although a couple refused point blank to consider that the peer assessor’s views were worthy of their consideration! It was a start.

I was almost ready to send the blog out to everyone when I paused to visit Sophie’s drama lesson to informally peer observe with Katrina the second in a series of ideas Sophie is using for her NPQML project. The girls involved are high flying year 11 students who find self-evaluation and peer critique stimulating and worthwhile-they can see how it is helping their examination grades approach their targeted A/A*. I will have the pictorial evidence newt week but Sophie was allowing her peer student critique to follow our own guidelines for feedback-make the students think, more work for them than us, re-draft to excellent before Miss sees it-in that when they peer critiqued an exam answer, they used dot marking to indicate where they thought there was a gap in the answer and they also had to highlight key words [the top 5 drama exam response words] and mark out of 10 according to the mark scheme. Homework was for the students to look at the peer critique they had received, look at the placement of the dots and figure out what they had missed. They then had to re-draft for next lesson and for the peer to check again to see that their feedback had been met and then the books would be ready for Miss to mark. I’m looking forward to seeing the various stages in action!

The series of New Year blogs are all about taking a brief pause and reflecting on practice and development as teachers and leaders;

  • Where are we at with our CPD and appraisal targets-what has our experience in the autumn term taught us that we need PPD with.
  • As I’m collating this blog of shared ideas, I’m simultaneously compiling a post on where we are up to with growth-mind-set and our methods of embedding it further and asking the students how it has helped them [plus questions on marking and other initiatives] Not sure which one will be finished first!
  • By the end of January I will have shared an uber blog of all of your latest best marking practice gleaned from book monitoring and the next couple of directed time faculty meetings.
  • Probably by next week I will have shared our whole school survey on British values/our own school values to help us to take stock of what our students think about a national discussion.
  • Internally, not for external eyes, I shared our support staff ‘Magic Moments’ of last term-important for them to reflect too and for all of us to share and value their contributions.
  • By half-term, I will have probably shared your latest lesson study research and have built in directed time to allow some of this to happen-but never enough time!

It’s important not just for our NQTs but for all of us that we try to honestly self-evaluate our teaching and leadership. Seeking feedback and advice on how to teach or lead better should be a non-negotiable aspect of working at our school as should always thinking if my students aren’t getting this-how can I change and approach it differently. If our new colleagues want to take on peer critique-bring it on and we can all help at the time chosen by them as the most appropriate in their NQT learning curve.





Peaky Humanities Blinders

Past the square, past the bridge,

past the mills, past the stacks

On a gathering storm comes

a tall handsome man

in a dusty black coat with

a red right hand

The new humanities staff have strode in to town with the style and panache of the Peaky Blinders, without the violence of course! I’m a big fan of the cult series and Nick Cave’s atmospheric ‘Red Right Hand’ [sang by PJ Harvey in the 2nd series] used as the theme tune and I’m always a fan of teachers we acquire who are immediately prepared to fit into our collaborative culture, trialling and sharing as they develop into the best teachers that they can be. Losing our subject leader just before the summer deadline was always going to be difficult and everybody has stepped up to the mark to help our 3 NQTs and to prepare for Helen and Emma’s maternity cover. We try to avoid giving tricky classes/year 11 classes to NQTs so they can develop their craft and prepare fully but this hasn’t been possible at times and good team-work supports them in their first year of our profession. Martin has taken on Helen’s year 11 classes and last year the English faculty took on extra exam classes when they found themselves a subject leader and teacher short due to very last minute resignations to join another school. Other faculties, such as science, have all responded similarly recently when facing the same situation of long term absence or teacher unavailability. Students and parents may not realise the extra commitment being shown to ensure the students are getting the best possible deal and the archaic resignation dead-line system plagues all schools and means that students often lack a specialist teacher for a full term, particularly in a shortage subject area. Our staff take on an extra work-load to obviate these problems and the senior team are eternally grateful and appreciative of all involved-thank you.

I observed Emma, supported by her TA Kim with her year 9 class and she very kindly invited Toni and Andrew, our 2 geography NQTs along as well! There were many highlights of the lesson but my favourite and the one that I feel other teachers could make really good use of was her peer critique idea to allocate roles in the groups to look at different exam answers. They marked each of 3 different answers Miss had written in their  roles which they were given according to their abilities/needs.



This was a great modelled activity for the NQTs to observe. We often use to let the students launch straight into answering 6, 8 or 10 markers without enough prior preparation and then go backwards, using mark schemes to go over what should have happened. Most share criteria now before but this activity plus a WAGOLL is a great way to introduce them to what is needed to answer well.

Emma and I had discussed with Toni, after her observation different methods of building up knowledge without copying and Emma showed how they could re-cap on prior learning, check with each other and then reference to the definitions needed for G.C.S.E. success. The students, in their groups, tried to recall knowledge and then visited other presentations and added on, in red pen, extra information or changed misconceptions. Emma’s penny dropping moment was seeing the focused red pen comments and realising the extent to which she had drilled knowledge into them in year 8!



The students could see the power of learning over time-it’s a nice feeling for any learner when prior knowledge wheels begin to whir in your brain and this makes you more eager to gather the additional information. The old idea of measuring ‘new knowledge’ gained in 1 lesson is being laid to rest-not many topics are brand new-recall can go back to KS2 and learning can look forward to the next lesson, the next month and the summer exams! Progress might just be spotted and made!

Andrew then tried to use what he had seen in his own NQT lesson for Emma and myself, beginning his year 9 students with an individual memory re-cap before inviting them to support each other with red-pen comments around the room.



He then used his ‘talk tokens’ to build up their knowledge and this is a great activity that can be used by any subject. I’ve observed both Andrew and Greg using this tactic-it’s a good ‘un on so many fronts-speaking and listening, retaining knowledge and the students enjoy it and engage seriously!

04 05 06

The exercise does bring out some of the entrepreneurial talents of some students as they vie for the most tokens. I did spot some dubious tactics but liked overhearing, “I’ll give you my backwash for your hard rock!”

I was also chatting to colleagues about how they are helping the students with their SPaG requirements and spotted a simple but effective grid Greg had used [made by Helen] whilst I was monitoring his books that could be easily adapted for most 6/8/10 mark assessments in any subjects. If you have something similar-please send it to me. I want really specific examples for SPaG rather than the students being told that they get a certain amount of marks and concentrating on spelling their key words correctly-most SPaG marks are lots for basic generic mistakes-their, there, where, were etc. If you knock out the history, I’m sure you can use it elsewhere!

  • Simple descriptive comment and/or gives one reason.
1 – 2
  • Develops one side of the argument
  • Bottom level, description of the what Wilson or Clemenceau wanted and what they got
  • Middle level, explanation of what Wilson/Clemenceau wanted and what they got. Some discussion of how satisfied
  • Top level, assesses how satisfied and has clear focus on the question.
3 – 6
  • Covers both sides of the argument
  • Bottom level, description of the what both Wilson and Clemenceau wanted and what they got
  • Mid-High level, explanation of what Wilson and Clemenceau wanted and what they got. Some discussion of how satisfied
  • No analysis of how satisfied
3 – 6
  • Covers both side of the argument
  • Explanation of what Wilson and Clemenceau wanted and what they got.
  • Assess how satisfied each would have been
  • Develops an argument on who would be more satisfied and
  • One side is in greater depth than the other
  • A clear structure in the answer
  • Always links back answer to the question
  • – 9
  • Covers both side of the argument
  • Balanced answer that explains what Wilson and Clemenceau wanted and what they got.
  • A well-argued answer on who was most satisfied by the Treaty of Versailles, this should be backed up and linked to a number of reasons
  • Focus on the question
  • Conclusion
SPAG You have written in paragraphs. + 1
SPAG You have written in full sentences, using capital letters, full stops and punctuation where needed. + 1
SPAG You have spelt key historical words correctly. + 1

Emma’s books covered many of the areas we have discussed as a staff and that are part of our book marking initiatives and requirements. I’ve explained our policy many times before and after Xmas will share all of our faculty’s best marking and feedback. Geography and history like their peer verification and have been using DIRT for that and dialogue between teacher and student. I’ve included Emma, Greg and Andrew’s comments and their self-evaluation targets before sharing some of the marking.

Biggest impact on learning your marking has had this year? Emma

So far I believe my marking has given pupils an early insight into what they are capable of and should be achieving the first time they complete a task so that  in future tasks they should be reaching a higher level of thinking and work. Especially at year 11 when students need the belief they are capable of completing longer style questions – within the first term this should be a recap and basis again to get them set up to achieve highly in their mock and real exams. I believe I have helped them set this basis in preparation for their exams and with the help of mark schemes they have designed in their books they should be able to identify trends in answering certain types of questions.

Biggest impact on learning your marking has had this year? Greg

I feel that marking has been beneficial for both teacher and student alike. Firstly, regular marking and the use of DIRT has allowed me to highlight any misconceptions, inform my planning and any interventions this year. With regards to the impact on students, I feel that the marking has impacted in a number of ways:

  • It has given pupils clear expectations of both what they are expected to achieve in the classroom, it has highlighted to pupils themselves their own ability and has given them chances to improve their work
  • Secondly, different methods of marking such as Dot Marking has allowed me to focus on SPaG with lower ability pupils and allows them to practice their SPaG when the exam board have an increased focus on this.
  • With regards to the use of DIRT, I have found that at KS3 level, its introduction has allowed pupils to consolidate their learning and has put the emphasis on producing excellent work the first time around.
  • Lastly, I have found my first uses of peer assessment (PV and PP) have proved successful in highlight to pupils to demands of GCSE level exam questions, the mark schemes and their understanding of how to achieve higher marks. Furthermore, it has given pupils to opportunity to physically learn how achieve the marks they are aiming for
Dialogue Self/peer crit Literacy/numeracy Initiatives DIRT/re-draft

  • To enforce BSG in marking more regularly at KS3.
  • To ensure all DIRT questions are completed in allotted time, focus on pupils efficiency

  • To attempt this across all key stages.
  • Get 10B to engage further in Peer Verification at GCSE
  • Introduce KS3 Level Peer verification
Target: to reinforce SPaG at GCSE and link to mark scheme

  • Strategies needed to improve use of capital letters

Enforce use of literacy mat for target pupil

Target: trial dot marking, particularly with KS3 to target SPaG errors. Dot to show error in paragraph that pupils must find themselves (Dot on problem line maybe for low ability) Target: I need to spend time to target common errors in DIRT. This should allow for class collaboration to share ideas, improvements and confusions

Biggest impact on learning your marking has had this year? Andrew

I feel DIRT has had a massive impact on student’s learning. It is clear to see through the improvements they make that this time benefits both student and teacher as they can work together to discuss any issues.

Peer assessment has also improved in the short time since September and I hope to engrain this across all key stages. It benefits both peers as they are encouraged to develop their own personal thinking skills. I feel there is a good basis of peer feedback now placed across all key stages but more work needed with some, particularly Year 7 and low ability Year 8.

GCSE marking is fairly consistent, hopefully peer assessment will further develop as the year progresses and outcomes of GCSE style questions should improve.

I feel my biggest aim is to incorporate BSG into key stage 3 lesson marking and DIRT time e.g. you achieved silver, to get gold you must……

Dialogue Self/peer crit Literacy/numeracy Initiatives
Target: to enforce BSG in marking more regularly at KS3 Target: to attempt this across all key stages. Get 10E more familiar with peer assessment. Target: to reinforce SPaG at GCSE and link to mark scheme Target:  trial dot marking, particularly with KS3 to target SPaG errors. Dot to show error in paragraph that pupils must find themselves (Dot on problem line maybe for low ability).

Martin choose these targets;


Self/peer crit Literacy Initiatives General
T Self-assessment to be developed at KS4 through the year especially in exam style q’sT:Will now continue to develop the 3 way marking process across all sets and especially assessed pieces.  T Need to introduce DOT marking for literacy in both KS3 and 4 T Introducing purple pens into books over the next term from GT’s idea T I would like to collaborate with other department to share more strategies/what’s worked for them

The feedback helps me to monitor the whole school situation but the reflection involved helps our NQTs especially to tell me where they feel they need to develop next with their marking so I can point them in the direction of experienced markers. The bottom line is that we have to mark our books, however I want colleagues to find out for themselves which types of marking have the biggest impact on learning-this is often very different with different classes-and I want them to mark smartly by choosing from circulated ideas to suit their professional needs. Martin, for example has kindly taken on Helen’s year 11 classes whilst still fulfilling his main role in school as year 8 progress manager. His increased work-load may mean a necessary change in his marking habits-how can I help and how can we all support each other’s marking?

Some of Emma’s marking can be seen below with my commentary. The first one shows some peer/self-critique comments and simple advice from a low/mid ability class and the improved piece after feedback [as directed 13 pages on by the student!] Absolutely crucial that we don’t miss this opportunity.


07 08

With the same class Miss encouraged them to write their own G.C.S.E style mark-schemes in preparation for year 9 and to get them thinking hard about the answers and knowledge needed to achieve mastery [Gold!] in their assessments. I teach the same class for history and this was a good challenge for them.



All teachers will recognise the first feedback comment below! Miss doesn’t stand for it and insists on a higher quality of response.



Our students often miss vital examination marks in geography and other subjects when they forget to include data to support their answers. Emma targets this below with a specific question aimed to increase the assessment score from 5-6. Dropping 1 mark for every question could prove costly for this year 11 student.



The geographers have taken on the peer verification aspect of peer marking began by the historians to allow the students to discuss each other’s work and to compromise with 2 other students. Some students love the conversations-others don’t!



The year 11 students create their own mark schemes and you can see that 1 student has peer marked another’s work according to their criteria [not sure where 5/6 went!] and added improvement points which the initial student has then responded to. Miss has verified the process and added to it.



Martin has also shared some of his marking and please remember what I have said about his increased work-load-how has he managed to mark effectively and still manage to watch a little bit of rugby on a Saturday?

The red pen [he is going to get some more colours!] indicates peer critique with green for Sir’s advice before the final red shows the student’s improved piece as a response to the feedback given.


14 15

The year 11 learning on Vietnam sees Martin raise pertinent questions aimed at knowledge needed for the exam-answered in red during DIRT and then verified by Sir that his feedback has been successfully met.


16 17

When the skills of peer/self-critique are taught and practised, then they have their place in our marking policy-if they aren’t taught well, then the inaccuracy of them hinders learning and gives the teacher even more to mark as they rectify the damage caused. When I came up with the peer verification idea I wanted it to help peer critique a far more worthwhile activity than it usually was so that both students and teachers could benefit. Martin has embraced the idea but it isn’t for everyone and that’s absolutely fine-as long as they have something equally as good to show!



Biggest impact on learning your marking has had this year? Martin

I feel that the marking has helped the students to understand the exam framework more clearly- even at KS3. The time it has saved me by using tools such as verification and peer marking has not hampered the quality of feedback because students understand the 3 way marking process and how it benefits them. It has gone beyond just seeing what grade you get and scribbling a quick response in red pen to actually improving work to reach the next level of progress and get that verified. This process has shown me that DIRT and peer verification are now fully embedded into the department.

DIRTy geography

I had an interesting bit of a twitter discussion re DIRT last week with someone who had been criticised in a lesson observation for allowing DIRT to take away from the main focus of the lesson. That isn’t an issue here-the time to experiment is when you are being observed so we can help and be an extra pair of hands and eyes HOWEVER making the most of giving the students’ time to improve and reflect is a matter of trial and error for us all as we work out what works best. I gave lots of different ideas out before Easter and changed the D to F for FEEDBACK on your learning-didn’t stick though! Few of the slides here for new colleagues to give you some ideas. The quality of the feedback back to the teacher from the students is the key to using DIRT or any other form of ‘dialogue’ marking.

19 20 21 22 23 24

One of my concerns when I monitor the books and look at DIRT activities has always been the quality of the questions set-that’s why one of our key areas on our book monitoring self-analysis forms is QUESTIONING! This is especially so with our lowest ability students when the questions spotted can be closed and basic-there is nothing wrong with basic knowledge and SPaG prompts-the students do need these to help their recall/retention, fill gaps in their knowledge and patient build-up of their marginal gains is absolutely fine and necessary. Closed questions help and should be used but more challenging deeper questions should be part of the mix too. Although my year 8 class struggle with writing their thoughts down accurately and some get very frustrated with ‘all the writing’ stuff they do need to be challenged with some big thinking questions. I tried these made up scenarios on Monday with them.


25 26

We have been studying earthquakes and in the current geography affairs section of the lesson looked at the heavy snow fall in the USA. A few points about my thinking.

  • The ability to consider 2 things at the same time and draw a conclusion is the basis of most G.C.S.E. questions-it shouldn’t be avoided with our low sets. How we get them to be able to answer these tough questions is down to our growth mind-set!
  • Don’t forget that most of these students [all probably] will have a scribe in their exams-speaking and listening is crucial and must be developed. Having to write answers down does hinder some of their thought processes-they are capable of some great thinking but can’t always commit it to paper. This shouldn’t be a barrier to us trying to extend their thinking capacity. They did find this activity tricky and told me it was hard BUT two of the students who find writing the most frustrating due to dyslexia told me that they really enjoyed the discussion. Their oral answers were far stronger than the written DIRT. I did then wonder when I was reading their answers-why the hell have I asked them to write this down! Probably because that’s the way it’s always been done, we value the written word more than the spoken and so on. I suppose that I justify it by thinking that they do need help with their written work to gain more success and this may help-realistically it probably just frustrated!
  • Writing down feedback questions/advice is time consuming-stickers don’t work for me-and most of us tend to have 4 or 5 differentiated comments that we use to cover 20 plus students. Some do use named question on the IWB to save time and I did this with the small class and after their initial thoughts on their own, I despatched them to pair up with blue or red partners to add to their original answer/thoughts.

When I came towards the end of a very long sporting career playing something every Saturday from 14 to 47, I probably became far more thoughtful a player and possibly better and more skilful. As some physical faculties began to fail-speed, energy, hand-eye co-ordination-others skills-spatial awareness, conserving energy until needed most, not relying on pace but slight of foot or hand-came to the fore. Perhaps that’s the same in teaching and school leadership-the initial rush of 20 something enthusiasm and exuberance is gradually replaced by experience [no place for cynicism at MCHS!] and a willingness to listen more and admit when I’ve got it wrong in the class or outside of it! Much of what we‘ve taken for granted in terms of ‘good’ pedagogy or ‘great’ leadership may just be simply wrong. Sometimes it needs Peaky Blinders coming to town to see different ways of doing things to help us to re-assess our own contributions and to up our own games. Long may it continue!




Magic NQT Moments 2

Our final NQT Magic Moment of the first half-term comes from Helen, our Spanish NQT who has shared her first attempts at dot marking with colleagues. This came after our big marking blog and opening inset day of the year talked about a host of ‘fast feedback’ tactics and a conversation Helen and I had after her first lesson observation with me when she raised her anxiety over providing feedback and beginning self and peer critique at a very basic level. This is the email she sent, which was then shared with all staff.

Hi Dave,

Just a quick email to let you know how I am getting on with the dots marking and a few other marking bits and bobs.

When we start a new topic in languages it often leaves us with nothing meaty to mark and it is mostly just new vocabulary. So it was important to think of a way of getting the students involved in marking their own work.

When marking their books, if I see an error I put a coloured dot on the page depending on what the error is. I have also made a display in my room so that the pupils know what the coloured dot refers to.


I then hand out the purple pens and let the kids do the rest. The lower ability sets need the support of a textbook, myself or the TA but they all get there eventually.


The best thing is that it really speeds up my marking too. I find I don’t get bogged down correcting hundreds of spellings or missing accents. The pupils seemed to really enjoy it. One of the pupils in 7.6 excitedly asked “Miss, what are all the dots for?” It becomes a bit of a game of Spot the Dot. They also get quite competitive about how many dots they’ve got in their books.


Here are some examples:

02 03 04

I have also started to get the pupils to decide whether one of their classmates has achieved bronze, silver or gold. Again they use the purple pens and then ask me for the correct coloured star sticker to stick in. Granted, 7.6 need more support in how to structure it than 7.2 but they all produced some good peer feedback.

05 06

Think that’s about it – starting on my Challenge Wall display next!


My reply

Great stuff Helen-good to see you trying out different ideas with your classes as we discussed and great to see you developing marking which gets the students thinking for themselves and involved in the process!  Where can you go next with this to develop and refine your marking? A few ideas and questions for us to chat about;

  • Can you get the students to think in terms of platinum-how could they add to their gold skill/knowledge to make it even stronger-always interesting to ask them where they think their learning should go next
  • How are you or the self/peer checkers going to make sure that advice/feedback is met successfully?
  • How are you or the self/peer checkers going to make sure that the knowledge has stuck in a couple of lessons time and then in a month’s time? Could DIRT help?
  • Could you adapt this for KS4 and higher ability students? I wonder if you could invite the students to devise their own dot marking scheme or any other marking scheme based on their perceptions of which types of marking/feedback really help them. Different groups within the same class could try to devise different methods within an agreed structure decided with them beforehand-e.g. what is the purpose of marking/feedback, what should their role be, how should it help their learning, how will they know it has had a successful impact-be prepared for them to say they would prefer you to do it all! [usually for accuracy]


It’s an exciting, if very tiring, first half-term of a new career for our NQTs. When I went to the SSAT conference in Manchester last December, I came back and mentioned watching the deputy head of Cramlington School speak and raised this question;

What are they doing that is so special and how can we learn from them? They began with a quote, “Imagine a school in which you taught better simply by being virtue of being in that school. What would such a school be like” [Judith Warren Little] Cramlington, I guess! But wouldn’t it be an achievement for our learning community if that was Meols Cop-why shouldn’t it be!

Why shouldn’t this be the case for our NQTs or for any of our teachers-have we built the systems of collaboration and professional development to make this so? If we haven’t yet, and they should be constantly evolving anyway, we need to crack on! Have each and every one of us accepted the accountability of always being the best that we can and helping others to access professional excellence? It’s an eventful, challenging but ultimately rewarding journey for us all whether it be the start of a career or a dazzling denouement-welcome to Meols Cop and have as restful a half-term as you can. Thank you.

30 second marking?

Interestingly of our 3 most visited blog posts, 2 are our big sharing of marking ideas that include our own examples and highlight great ideas from elsewhere that we like and would pretend are our own, if nobody was reading our blogs! Two more external additions spotted over the last couple of weeks are well worth finding time to check out.

Alex Quigley @HuntingEnglish  considers the value of feedback and much more and raises issues that every teacher thinks about privately and in discussions re marking. He also includes some great feedback tactics, some of which we use and a couple of ones which may be new.

‘Have We Got Feedback Backwards?’ …

Tom Sherrington @headguruteacher shares his DIRT activity based on Austin’s Butterfly to demonstrate how 1 student noticeably improved his learning. There are more and more teachers sharing examples and photos of their marking externally, as we do, rather than just talking about it-this really helps and is great CPD for our profession.

My 3rd external post comes from Dan Brinton and is his most popular post and the one that first highlighted the two schools to each other’s presence as I used it back in November of 2013 in our blog. ‘Fast Feedback’ has 9 great ideas that any teacher can use tomorrow! Dan has sent his post around again recently-so here it is again if you missed it the first time.

Meols Cop Science Fast Marking/Feedback

The main part of our blog this week is the opportunity to share the marking/feedback strategies that our science faculty are currently trialling. Carmel explained their ideas with great passion, so I hope that I do them justice and I will use their examples from very current work to model for you. Their main aim is to mark their books before the next lesson/next day in a manner that is useful to the students, helps them check key concepts have been understood, check short term learning progress/fill knowledge gaps and be fit and healthy enough to be on top form themselves in lessons, and not exhausted by too heavy a load of marking and planning.

In KS4 they have bought all of the students revision guides-no notes are made in the books that are marked-notes can be made in the purchased guides or some students have requested a small note book which they have been given. These books are not marked. The books which the teacher marks has the concepts in them/questions and these are used in DIRT-dedicated improvement and reflection time.

The process involves;

  • Self-assessed/peer assessed according to shared criteria
  • Some is based on key words/science literacy
  • The task is improved based on the self/peer advice
  • The teacher adds their comments AFTER the work has been improved
  • Questions are usually added to focus on misconceptions/gaps
  • DIRT next lesson is used to respond to the feedback/questions and the cycle continues
  • Different coloured pens show who is writing-red-students self-assessment, blue-student’s DIRT, green-teacher, blue-student response, sticker/stamper-feedback achieved

The colours help the speed at which the teacher can ascertain who has said what and what needs responding to and crucially, both Carmel and Hollie ask the students to leave the book open on the page that needs commenting on open-they are either left on the tables like that or collected in open to save vital time, opening and finding the place where the learning is.


This extracts are from Carmel’s year 10 lower ability students re-drafting after advice from the teacher and then receiving peer advice and a peer question. Carmel stressed the point to me that although this style of peer/self-assessment is often seen as achievable with high sets; they have trialled it across the board and these are examples of foundation G.C.S.E. classes and it is making the science team consider moving them to the higher tier.

02 03

Carmel explained that her aim is to spend 30 seconds adding a pertinent comment/question as part of this process for each student which allows her to have the books ready for the next lesson. More in-depth marking/time consuming marking occurs when assessments are undertaken. She feels that the inclusion of the students in the process is improving their learning and allowing marking to be manageable and have a measureable impact on learning.

Barriers so far have been;

  • If the pen colours go wrong! Most of the team issue packs of pens at the start of the lesson with the right colours in.
  • If the students don’t respond-couple have been brought back at break and haven’t erred again.
  • Keeping up the discipline for making yourself stick to the regime-much easier with all the faculty trialling and supporting.

Carmel asked if I knew of other examples [which raised issues about speedy marking] and I recalled Sharon Porter’s blog where she explains her use of a mark guide at the end of each lesson. Well worth a read. I’m sure there may be others and when I share this on twitter we may get some responses to share ideas.


Hannah has been introducing her year 8 groups to ‘fast feedback’ incorporating self and peer critique. This was the task;


DIRT allowed the students to prepare the ‘excellent’ work ready for Miss to read and comment on by encouraging re-drafting until all of the information needed was there-some of the comments are quite basic but our students miss out ‘basic’ information regularly and lose crucial exam marks. The exercise reinforces the rigour that is needed to answer using as much detailed subject knowledge as we want them to and allows Hannah to focus on the marginal gains type of comment and feedback that ‘excellent’ work requires. Borrowed from Chris Moyse, we like;


Joe’s year 10 current books show peer feedback in red, blue for student responses, green for teacher comments and mention RAG-the students choosing their current level of understanding-red, amber, green. Again the students are working hard to produce the excellent finished piece and both self, peers and Joe are prompting and questioning to get there. The acronym PEER, is different than the PEE often used and represents

P praise for what was good about the learning

E even better if

E example to support the EBI

R response to the suggested EBI-can’t be yes, no I agree, thank you etc.!

13 14

The dialogue between the peer assessor and the student before their teacher comments on the learning looks to be interesting! Not quite a ding dong but a good exchange of advice and response.


Rachael’s cheesy dialogue followed by pleasing self-reflection in DIRT. Joe and Rachael share their year 8 class and Joe also uses the acronym DIRT differently to support self-critique. In the example below it stands for;

D what do you feel you have DONE well?

I what do you feel was INTERESTING about your learning?

R what are your key REFLECTIONS on today’s learning?

T what would you TARGET for improvement?

I quite like this!


The scientists seem to be obsessed with food! Hannah moved from cheese to bacon with this dialogue based on PEER.

17 18 19 20 21

If the marking/feedback is improving the learning, as you can see in Phil’s example and the students are using DIRT –great!

Science perspective-why marking had to change

As with all teachers, the pressure of the need to deliver results has become immense and the science faculties response had [and has] been to up their assessing and testing from year 7 onwards to a level that is far beyond what happened previously. This was their decision and not an ultimatum from SLT! I’m not use to testing as thoroughly and as often, but am prepared to let colleagues run with their ideas and to feedback to us on the impact of their ideas. The focus of the tests constantly changes as they monitor and adapt to weaknesses in performance as they appear. The heavy load of marking that the testing brought did impact on day to day marking and when book monitoring time came round, allied with observations, concern was flagged up and Carmel and myself had a couple of long conversations where we discussed different strategies to enable the scientists to keep their heads above water in marking terms whilst still providing a quality marking/feedback outside of the test situation for students in all years. There was a worry, as there always is, when I mention using DIRT in lessons allied with self/peer critique that valuable learning time could be lost [i.e. coverage of the knowledge needed in the syllabus/scheme of learning] I obviously believe that great marking and the time found for the students to reflect in lessons enhances and helps to retain/improve subject learning/knowledge not detract from it-it’s a good discussion though! We looked at internal and external best practice-you can see a great bookmark devised by Daria Kohls below, which covers some of the external ideas discussed.


There are lots of similar ‘fast feedback’ ideas and whichever suits best is fine by me, provided that it fits our whole school structure as explained in previous blogs [at the end of this blog] I’m not sure who had the original ideas for all of these but Kev Lister and Damian Benney are great exponents of RAG and I first saw FAIL/SAIL on Belmont School’s blog. Do read their ideas and follow them if you get the chance. Daria borrowed her medal and a mission from a blonde scouser called Wendy-think I vaguely recollect who she is!!

It’s early days for our scientists with their trial but they have been pleased with the impact of their marking so far for all involved and from My Perspective as a senior leader;

  • I’m delighted that that the faculty have taken the initiative themselves to improve what they saw as a weak learning and teaching area
  • I’m equally delighted that they are working together and supporting each other by sharing ideas constantly and being honest and open with each other. Sometimes books and marking remain hidden from other colleagues [and other schools!]
  • This comment perhaps sums up my belief and what we are trying to achieve at MCHS

Damian Benney‏@Benneypenyrheol

II think the model of collating the “bright spots” of marking to share best practice is exceptionally good!

  • I like the fact that they are collating their evidence via Hannah and that they have followed the path of suggesting solutions, rather than just complaining about marking!
  • I like the really practical idea of leaving the pages open for speed of access-I hadn’t thought of this before and the ease with which colours can help the marker cut straight to the chase.
  • It is for each faculty to decide which type of marking is best for them and most appropriate for their students and teachers. I emphasised in this blog and will stress again that marking preferences and styles are not uniform. Even within the same subject and same teacher it would make sense for different procedures to be followed with different abilities and classes, should you wish to. I was going to include an example of my marking with the least able students in school but as this post has grown and grown, I’ll share next week! Provided that the marking and feedback fit within my suggested structure-fine, go for it, try new ideas and let me know from your impact data/professional experience-does it support and improve learning!
  • If it sounds Orwellian that I have an imposed structure-it isn’t, it’s this and I think it’s eminently sensible and manageable;

Marking and feedback

We use a range of marking strategies in school depending on the subject, age and ability of the students.  However, there are some key basic principles that underpin our approach, to which staff and students should adhere:

  • Marking and feedback must be prompt.  The books must be taken in for marking and returned with feedback at agreed regular intervals dependent on the amount of curriculum time the subject has.
  • Subject specific feedback and feed forward advice and targets must be given to inform the students about what has successfully been achieved and how the learning can be further improved.
  • Questions addressed to the students may be used to support this strategy aimed at emphasising misconceptions and incomplete knowledge.
  • Whichever strategy is used, the students must:
  1. Be given time to read the advice and respond;
  2. Have future learning checked to see that the feedback has been  successfully employed;
  • Some teachers may use the term DIRT (Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time) to carry out these activities.
  • SPAG (Spelling Punctuation and Grammar) will also be checked for general and subject specific accuracy.
  • Our students will be involved in evaluating their own and each other’s learning.  Teachers will check the accuracy of student self and peer marking but the thought process involved strengthens student learning and helps them become more effective learners.  For them to be successful we might use the acronym FISH:
  • Friendly comments must be based on the learning, not the person!
  • Informative advice that suggests improvement, with supportive examples provided.
  • Specific feedback, based on the subject knowledge and skills that are need for mastery of the subject.
  • Honest feedback – don’t hide from what needs to be said.  Constructive criticism is useful and all mistakes can be learned from.
  • To enable student marking to be successful, the criteria for marking must be in student friendly language and have a clear structure, e.g. Bronze, Silver and Gold.
  • Peer assessment on its own is often inaccurate.  Another student should check the peer assessor’s comments and verify their accuracy before a compromise discussion with the owner of the work, the peer assessor and verifier. Further verification by using more peer assessors e.g. gallery critique further supports more accurate peer assessment.

For the students, there are a couple of simple messages;

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Some staff may prefer to spend longer marking the books and provide longer feedback, some have different foci this term e.g. peer providers, some may prefer to stay with their current methods which are working for them, some may prefer to go through the work and spot SPaG errors and misconceptions themselves-it doesn’t matter to me provided that my colleagues continue to seek the best ways for their practice to improve and to seek suitable CPD appropriate to their professional needs.

As Damian said in his tweet about the sharing of marking practice intra and inter schools, looking for ‘bright spots’ or ‘magic moments’, as we call them, is essential for all of us not just enlightened leaders or teachers. If you spend your time looking at shared examples for the failure of the teacher to put a red pen through every spelling error or not using a ruler whilst failing to spot the improved dialogue between students leading to a re-drafted and improved piece of learning or a genuine attempt to make marking manageable and worthwhile-you’re missing the point and the moment of CPD gain has gone. [I’m not saying that SPaG and presentation aren’t important!]

Thank you to our science faculty for being brave enough to publicly share; I hope that colleagues inside MCHS and those from other schools find our ideas and thoughts useful.

Feedback on feedback!

Very long sharing of some of our current marking/feedback tactics for our own staff to skim through, to guide our new September teachers and to share generally via our blog [for anyone who finds the time to read!]. It’s a theme we will be returning to on our inset days but a health warning before I begin-marking, feedback and ensuing dialogue at their best are one of the strongest forms of personalised intervention there is-period! You don’t have to read lots of research to inform your practice of this-ask the students-Helen Rose did-great marking and feedback, of which there are lots of examples shared below, makes a huge impact on learning. We’ve discussed previously what great marking and feedback is BUT as a teacher you have to decide how much time you are going to give to your marking and planning. 1 lesson may be supported by 3 hours of marking/planning-can you do this for every lesson AND teach well, throw in some extra-curricular and actually have some of your own life too? Using peer assessment, if it’s done well, can be a big help and I can offer advice based on years of teaching BUT it’s a long time since I taught a full timetable and led the Humanities faculty. Talk to one another and follow up any shared ideas to find out more, read the blogs I send out from elsewhere with great ideas to deliver ‘best value’ marking-your well-being is crucial and it is for all of us to ensure that ALL colleagues are happy, healthy and working to their full potential. If you feel you are drowning under marking-I spent the summer of 79 as a lifeguard-no big deal to whiz the old speedos on and I’ll dive in for you! This article by Andy Tharby may interest and help those colleagues too

Note for Inspectors

Ofsted have moved to looking for evidence of learning over time-student books are one way of checking learning has happened and is developing and progressing-I doubt that any of us would have an issue with this and it’s one of the factors that contribute to great teaching in our professional portfolio. The debate surrounding what constitutes good and useful feedback/marking has new additions every day-how quickly should feedback be given, how detailed should it be, feedback that tells them the answers isn’t as useful as feedback that encourages thinking, feedback should be very different for different abilities, subjects, learning activities and so on. I’m not sure how many countries have teachers who provided the length of written feedback that many of our teachers often provide-should this be expected, is it useful to write so much-mmm big questions and I don’t have a ready-made answer! When I spot good examples and articles on the web, I grab them and share with our staff-our first big feedback sharing from last December blog mixes ideas from our staff with external ideas

Quick Jonesy rant!

One of the interesting aspects of keeping up to date with innovative and exciting educational ideas is seeing or hearing an idea that sounds absolutely wonderful e.g. a great marking strategy or inspirational leadership tactic-I automatically [naively] use to think that the person or school involved must be part of a great development sweeping across their school, having a great impact on all that it touched. A quick look at their data/external reports sometimes revealed a different truth-the reality was probably that a few people [or just 1!] were producing good ideas that they were proud of, but that the practice wasn’t universally adopted or accepted, possibly because the methods of collaboration or monitoring failed to include everybody [including support staff] Leadership has to be nitty gritty as well as inspirational-even though I may think that some of my mad ideas are amazing and non-negotiable and that colleagues on hearing them will just immediately implement them into their classroom practice-dream on! Trying to get all colleagues to agree with a new idea or change in policy that is crucial for the school to move forward is virtually impossible-ensuring that they all follow the policy once implemented takes the combined characteristics and skills of Sir Alex Ferguson, Mother Teresa and Michael Gove! [perhaps not!] All schools must have some great markers, feedbackers and DIRTy dialoguers-I’ve read the Ofsted reports that say so BUT usually it is one of the areas that is found to be inconsistent-will you be the one that is spotted not marking well and lets your school down in the Ofsted report-how many SLT have spitefully said this! From my experience, when inconsistency is found, leaders haven’t shared examples of ‘good’ marking, haven’t created an environment where the value of marking and feedback has been discussed openly [what is the point of spending ages on it?], haven’t researched and shared good practice/methods having the most impact, haven’t tried to support the work-load of colleagues by thinking of time efficient methods of marking [RE not marking every book every week etc.], haven’t included marking and monitoring as one of the key success criteria for individual quality of teaching and one evaluative measure of learning over time, haven’t allowed a flexibility in the system to cater for individuals and subjects and haven’t having said that marking is important, haven’t bothered at every level of leadership to monitor it rigorously and haven’t included the parents and students in discussions and debate about it. AND even if you think you have covered all of those areas-you still find books unmarked, policy not adhered too and so on-not sure any school ever gets it totally right at one given time and I certainly wouldn’t pretend to.

Summer 2014 shared examples

I’ve shared quite a few of our current ideas in our blogs and internally in collaborative meetings and via emails when I’ve spotted great marking on my tours around the classrooms. I don’t impose a uniform approach in terms of everybody marking in green/the students responding in purple pens of progress or everybody having to give 2 stars and a wish or WWW, EBI and so on. I can fully understand schools, especially if Ofsted or internal monitoring has found an issue, usually inconsistency of rigour, with marking across the school and need staff and students to follow clear guidelines that all can clearly understand, follow and monitor. I do prefer to let individuals and faculties follow their own professional research and evaluations to find the marking and feedback which works best for them in terms of impact on learning and best use of their time. I’m not sure that one size fits all is the best approach with marking and feedback given the initial differences in subject specific needs, individual students [ages/abilities/motivation], teacher workloads-teachers spend a lot of time marking-as professionals they should be trusted to work within our overall school/faculty structure to get it right for themselves and their students. This isn’t a soft option-it can’t be because the learning over time observed in student books is one the main criteria in our individual teacher portfolio ‘quality of teaching’ evidence files. Books give us a much clearer piece of evidence about learning and teaching than 1 off lesson observations-they absolutely do matter to both teachers and students! They are a veritable treasure trove of learning! A basic version of our marking policy as shared with parents in our handbook is here;

Marking and feedback

We use a range of marking strategies in school depending on the subject, age and ability of the students.  However, there are some key basic principles that underpin our approach, to which staff and students should adhere:

  • Marking and feedback must be prompt.  The books must be taken in for marking and returned with feedback at agreed regular intervals dependant on the amount of curriculum time the subject has.
  • Subject specific feedback and feed forward advice and targets must be given to inform the students about what has successfully been achieved and how the learning can be further improved.
  • Questions addressed to the students may be used to support this strategy aimed at emphasising misconceptions and incomplete knowledge.
  • Whichever strategy is used, the students must:
  1. Be given time to read the advice and respond;
  2. Have future learning checked to see that the feedback has been  successfully employed;
  • Some teachers may use the term DIRT (Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time) to carry out these activities.
  • SPAG (Spelling Punctuation and Grammar) will also be checked for general and subject specific accuracy.
  • Our students will be involved in evaluating their own and each other’s learning.  Teachers will check the accuracy of student self and peer marking but the thought process involved strengthens student learning and helps them become more effective learners.  For them to be successful we might use the acronym FISH:
  • Friendly comments must be based on the learning, not the person!
  • Informative advice that suggests improvement, with supportive examples provided.
  • Specific feedback, based on the subject knowledge and skills that are need for mastery of the subject.
  • Honest feedback – don’t hide from what needs to be said.  Constructive criticism is useful and all mistakes can be learned from.
  • To enable student marking to be successful, the criteria for marking must be in student friendly language and have a clear structure, e.g. Bronze, Silver and Gold.
  • Peer assessment on its own is often inaccurate.  Another student should check the peer assessor’s comments and verify their accuracy before a compromise discussion with the owner of the work, the peer assessor and verifier. Further verification by using more peer assessors e.g. gallery critique further supports more accurate peer assessment.

The reality goes much deeper with a variety of nuances as you will see from the different examples.

It goes without saying that books should be graffiti free and kept with pride. They are a log of individual learning and progress for each student, often with their own flight path and self-assessed personal views in-they are important-and we should encourage that presentation matters-basic use of rulers writing in pen, drawing in pencil-do matter. Work presented for marking should be as perfect as possible and re-drafting encouraged [a difficult and sometimes un-popular skill] but students should be encouraged to highlight work, add feedback in each other’s books, use different coloured pens for different tasks-[re-drafting may be better at the back of a book!]-a mixture of the old and new! It is sometimes easier to have 2 books-rough, best-sometimes one for if the students have an ITT teacher and so on-your choice.

We monitor books twice a year formally and re-visit them during observations and learning walks and bring examples to cross-curricular meetings, as well as sharing good practice via our internal sharing lines of communication [the blogs show shorter versions!!] It is the responsibility of all colleagues to support the development of each other and to celebrate successful impacting strategies [and steal them!] Our summer book monitoring form is here;

Book Monitoring Summer 2014 Name                                                      Department

There is a slight change in format to fit in with some of our key initiatives so we can measure the impact of them and set priorities for next year. Please select a cross section of books from different abilities and cohorts and please highlight on your sheet, specific areas in the books where your line-manager should look to be guided towards finding good evidence to support your self-evaluation.

Dialogue devpt Self/peer assessment Questions posed Literacy/numeracy New ideas DIRT/re-drafting
Specific feedback the students can understand Self/peer assessment related to a specific criteria Questions are set by the teacher as part of the assessment process and the students answer them Literacy /numeracy checked. Literacy marking scheme used-monthly literacy advice followed Any ideas trialled from learning hubs, peer observations, courses How have you built DIRT/time for the students to check and reflect into your lessons
Evidence that the students have checked the feedback Self/peer assessment with an explanation/example The questions are specifically aimed at levels/grades/skills/misconceptions Students respond to literacy/numeracy advice Impact of your innovations How has this impacted on learning?
Evidence that the students have successfully responded to the feedback The self/peer assessor checks that their feedback has been successfully met Questions are raised by self or peers and answered Any impact noted? How will you develop them further? How have you tried to get them to give you ‘nearly perfect’ work in for marking/used re-drafting?
The process is verified Questions are written into schemes of learning Ideas you have shared. Any feedback? How has this impacted on learning?

Line manager feedback-please keep copies for your professional portfolio and pass a copy on to Alison

Areas of strength

Biggest impact on learning your marking has had this year?

Agreed priorities for next term to support personal, department and whole school marking development [to return to in the autumn book monitoring]


Teacher                                                                                                                     Line manager

The teachers presenting their books for monitoring choose their own examples and highlight examples of the criteria that they wish to draw to the monitor’s attention. Helen H made it easy for me by using different coloured stickers on certain pages in the books to match her self-evaluation form.

Dialogue devpt
Specific feedback the students can understandOliver Brookfiled –blueMia – blueCharlie Ball -blue
Evidence that the students have checked the feedbackMia – yellowTom L – redJames R – redCharlie B – yellow
Evidence that the students have successfully responded to the feedbackDeclan B – pinkOliver B – orangeTom L – purpleCharlie B – yellowSammy H – pink

I’m grateful to colleagues who have shared their marking so openly-sometimes it can be a closely guarded secret and sometimes colleagues are worried that they will be found wanting in front of a larger audience-I hope we have dispelled fears like these and can value individual contributions in the true spirit of collaboration and British values of volunteering!

Before I begin a quick warning that sometimes the spelling of peer assessors isn’t always as accurate as it might be! Hopefully our SPaG will be ok! What I wanted to do was to share ‘real life’ examples rather than blank teacher copies

Specific feedback-English

The amount of feedback given is for the teachers to decide-if everybody provided very detailed feedback for every piece of learning given in-they wouldn’t have enough time to plan lessons, prepare resources and have a life outside of school-they would be exhausted and their teaching in the classroom would suffer. Teachers of subjects like RE with the amount of classes they teach would simply go under and so the amount of detail, the use of different strategies [that may save time but still be appropriate and have an impact] and the use of self and peer assessment all have their part to play at a time when the teacher feels that is the optimum time to use that tactic. For instance science may decide that their assessments for a half-term take priority and that detailed feedback and DIRT need planning and preparation time devoted to this-book marking and feedback may then require less detailed teacher assessment and more emphasis on quality peer critique.

You can see from Lisa’s English marking below that she has commented on learning that went well and has offered very specific advice-in the first piece she would then give the students time to read the advice and would check that the feedback has been achieved at the next appropriate opportunity. In the second piece you can see her use questions to reinforce what she spotted as errors and then verify that the student has successfully met her feedback.

Her 3rd piece shows the use of a peer assessor who also has been encouraged to give as specific feedback as they can with examples to show the ‘assessed’ student what they need to do to improve.

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Maths STAR and other self/peer critique

The maths faculty have been trialling STAR marking and when I tweeted Zoe’s STAR around the world, it proved to be very popular! You can see teachers, self and peer comments and a worked example set to check that the feedback has been met and verified.


This was from a more able student and examples from Jen show some different abilities and slightly different differentiated tactic based on the same principle. Sometimes STAR and the questions set begin initially with the teacher setting them before building up student confidence so they can set them. Miss gives her feedback and sets a question for the students to answer in DIRT in the next lesson. Stickers and stampers engage and motivate and I buy hundreds of them, design our own and encourage everybody to do the same. They work- even for year 11!

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It takes time for the students to learn how to self and peer assess accurately-done badly it’s simply a waste of time so strict guidelines, constant modelling of WAGOLLS for the class using the visualisers and confidence begins to grow. When time is such an issue, great student marking is a massive help and more important develops their learning and understanding too and encourages the use of subject specific literacy.

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Alex has used her NTEN lesson study with Claire to look at developing responses of our lowest ability students to functional skills type questions and has also being trialling ideas to engage the students in entering in to a maths dialogue. This is at a basic level to begin with but the more we can help the students to become involved with specific feedback by being patient and offering them structured and developmental support-the better maths learners they will become.


Beginning to peer assess, set questions and challenges!


Encouraging them from year 7 to always learn from and focus on what they can’t do.


Taking responsibility for your own learning and progress as much as you can.


Not getting any wrong! Extension task on its way!

Below-joint action-talking and arguing about maths- scribbling out and re-drafting until you agree that you have an answer to offer to Miss.

It wouldn’t be maths marking without their ladder of glory-moving up the rungs of success to differentiate and progress sum by sum!

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You have 5 – 10 minutes to read through your teacher’s comments in your exercise books and to respond to any challenges your teacher has set.

If you are not sure of something and want to write a question to your teacher, you can!

Helen offering some dedicated improvement and reflection time- for the students to check her feedback and respond in MFL. For years we spent ages marking our books and rarely gave the students any opportunity to read and respond, apart from writing out spelling mistakes! DIRT activities can include so many different chances to reinforce learning and allow the students to plan and prepare only their very best work to offer for marking. A few ideas here for DIRT/FLIRT!

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If you are going to peer critique/assess-do it the MCHS way!


The uses of DIRT and peer critique have developed rapidly and have gathered a fair amount of interest from elsewhere. Katie and Lisa’s slides have been tweeted out, as has Katie’s book mark.

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Year 7 beginning to peer -Critique using Katie and Hannah’s modelled guidelines.

By attempting to follow the guidelines, they will grow in confidence and the idea will bring high level evaluation skills, connecting nicely to G.C.S.E. skills-we have to have the highest of expectations and keep encouraging FISHy evaluations.

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I wasn’t able to observe Hannah with Katie due to the interviews so Leon took my place and was delighted to see Hannah analysing poetry with 7 set 3 and developing their peer critique skills [and as a consequence their own analysis] Hannah told me that she used the visualiser to model the process of gradually improving peer critique for her class as you can see below. Showing them the different stages of a developing skill is really interesting piece of teaching and her bronze, silver, gold simple criteria gives the students criteria that they can work with and understand.

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Katie mixes teacher feedback, questioning and peer critique below to good effect-a variety of marking methods-each suitable to very different groups and abilities is best and down to the professional instincts of the teacher-not an overall school policy or rule!

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Hannah shared her examples on a ppt-here are some of her key slides. Please note the BSG approach!

36 37 38 39History peer verification and peer provider

Helen R liked my peer verification original idea [historians stick together!] aimed at promoting discussion and compromise-2 great life-skills and has adapted them for her own classes.

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Helen has devised her own peer provider idea and although the slide looks basic and simple [often works best!] the idea works really well and has produced some pleasing critique.

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Helen mixes her development of peer critique with questions to focus on areas of weaker knowledge or to probe deeper.

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Or a mixture of self, peer and teacher-the peer is weaker advice here-ITT student marking and perhaps letting the peers off without providing sufficient evidence and examples. Hence the need to constantly model exemplar peer critique and provide high challenge-it’s a difficult skill and they need to be taught how to do it properly [can’t emphasise enough!]

The need for peer verification was brought about by my concerns over the inaccuracy of peer assessment-our verifier or verifiers not only re-check the original peer critique but discuss with the original person and compromise. As many counts of verification as possible are fine; the more the merrier depending on time and the amount of feedback given and expected. Subjects like art have always used the ‘gallery critique’ method of laying out work and touring around adding comments/feedback and taking your own. Lots of colleagues use similar tactics and a simple version would be one I used with year 7 with the laptops and lots of post-its [and a history essay]-get round as many laptops as you can and leave a pink post it-with a couple of positive things that you liked and want to pinch and 1 piece of advice with an example to support the advice. On a green post-it jot down ideas you like and want to take back with you and use on your own piece. Time needs then to be given [DIRT] to allow the students to read their comments and act on them by adding the advice and examples-this can be highlighted on the screens so that the teacher can see the process unfolding in front of their eyes. Bronagh used a slightly different tactic with some high flying Spanish students that Helen and I had the pleasure of observing. Bronagh has trialled different peer assessment ideas in lessons and developmental dialogue scaffolds with her marking and feedback. The lesson I observed with her subject leader was in the context of the students having described and compared where they live and she was hoping that their learning would progress to extending and developing their basic descriptions by using connectives and high level phrases. She began by the students forming a human sentence where they each in turn added a word and then set them off with post-its to construct a sentence on their tables.


The success criterion was;

Bien-must give a structured sentence

Muy bien should add opinions to their description

Excellente could use justified opinions and another tense

The sentence was then peer assessed according to shared criteria and the peer assessors had to leave their feedback on the table on a different coloured post-it [it had to have two specific examples that could be used on it] and also take away [on a different coloured post-it!] a couple of ideas that they could use to enhance their own sentence. The pairs went back to their own table and read the feedback the peer assessors had given and then amended their sentence accordingly. Bronagh then sent the peer assessors back again to verify that their advice had been taken and used. As her class mascot is Pablo [who gets chucked around in questioning] she can ask the students to PABLO it-Peer Assess Borrow [2or 3 ideas to take back] so you can Learn [from the peer assessment process] and use your learning to improve your Own.

PABLOING it! The peer assessors highlighting where their advice has been used successfully!


A learning conversation followed based on the grade success criteria and I asked where the students felt that their learning should go next to achieve the B and A grades [they are year 9 students]-they were able to work out what was needed next, although Miss would be needed at this point to expand!

Science DIRT/peer critique

Rachael and Joe in science joined us as NQTS and have constantly trialled different marking strategies, led a peer assessment hub and worked together on lesson study. Rachael used a new overlay in her lesson observation to support her peer assessors and give them a structure to assess each other’s work on.


Some of her questions and the dialogue in her books was excellent-stronger than Even Better If-which needs an extra E for example or evidence as does 2 stars and a wish or 2 medals and a mission. Highlighting point, explanation, evidence works well for self/peer marking and encourages thorough reading-as long as everything isn’t highlighted!

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For the lower ability students picking out key words in peer assessment helps them to offer subject specific oral or written feedback. Joe shared different approaches to providing initial scaffolds to support the student’s early attempts at PA. No levels anymore but you can see how he was trying to develop their responses.

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After using the overlay, Rachael used DIRT to allow peer assessment feedback [black] and self-response [blue] to decide which BSG was reached and how they could improve further.

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Basic self-DIRT with year 7 low ability and please don’t be afraid to let the students highlight and write in each other’s books [yes I know presentation is back in Ofsted fashion-just do it!]

Below you can see Joe using DIRT to allow the peer assessors to offer advice/raise questions, student responses, peer verifier checking that the feedback has been met and the teacher offering positive feedback on what has gone well and then leaving another question to for the student to answer in the next DIRT session.

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Hannah S sent me some examples of her year 7’s, beginning to develop their peer critique skills and her explanation; “Basically, I gave them questions to answer, which they did in black.  Then I gave them a general mark scheme to self-assess (red pen)their work without giving them the answer and then an opportunity to improve in blue pen.  The work was checked by a peer (red pen) who checked their self-assessment and improvement and add to the feedback using PEER (praise, EBI, example, respond).  The students then with a very general levelling researched the topic, while I looked over their books and gave some feedback to add to the peer.  They then came back and improved their answer again to try to get more marks where I gave them a specific mark scheme to give a real mark, they then commented on what they did to improve.”

I’ve attached the PowerPoint I used.  “The only thing I didn’t do was get the peer to check their feedback had been met.  It was a revision lesson a couple of weeks after we completed the topic.  They enjoyed it though and where very happy when they went from 1 / 2 marks to 5/6.”


Then the same in blue for improvement and red again for peer checking of the answer.


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Art-creative and imaginative marking!

Rachel Y with her artistic touch has trialled different strategies with different classes. She led our marginal gains hub and used her lesson study with Josie to use the approach with her year 10. This is an example from year 7 of Rachel using her MG wheel to support self-assessment marking along with WWW/EBI and more.

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PAR is used mainly in technology and PE and works well when sufficient time is given to complete the boxes and to check/verify that the feedback has been achieved. When too many PARs are attempted or time isn’t given-it doesn’t work-this is similar to the use of stickers with guidelines/advice on. When colleagues first used them, they appeared on each page and the students couldn’t possibly respond to all of the action points. For busy teachers they offered a quick way of marking-for deputies in charge of learning and teaching, they were no better than what had gone before and I despaired! Used well; they can work but you need an awful lots of stickers to personalise them in enough detail. Did I ever encourage them and make them-I forget due to age!!


Rachel likes to add a touch of literacy to most of her marking and I liked her crayons too! The students told me that they enjoyed assessing using these.


Acronyms amuse me if they are used to support learning and not jargon for new initiatives! Helen and Bronagh, being linguists are creative and imaginative [they told me to say this!] and they came up with MONSIEUR aand SENORITA when one of our learning walks revealed that the students felt that MFL wasn’t using or developing peer critique as much as other areas. It isn’t always easy using the target language to discuss/critique in the detail you might in other subjects and they’ve devised some cunning plans!

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It looks great on paper but what is the impact on learning and what does it look like in practise?

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I really like to see the students asking questions of their teacher-it shows a thirst for knowledge and a desire for subject mastery-traits of great MFL scholars.

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Supporting lower ability students to recall learning with a simple recap at the start of the lesson.


And supporting more able students to aspire to higher levels and highlighting when they have used the feedback in the next piece of learning. G.C.S.E peer critique-advice, feed-forward-peer sets question and check it

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For the more able- teacher questions to recap prior learning at the start of the next lesson as a bell activity and I also like MFL challenges set by Helen in French.


Colin works predominantly with the PCs in business studies and his own marking/assessment/feedback and the ensuing dialogue and self/peer critique is all based on google docs and the VLE. I’ve observed the system in action and always have a suggestion for further refinement as we discuss the lesson afterwards-sorry Colin! Colin has explained his ideas in the attached document –quite big to put in the ordinary flow of the blog-and added student views. You can see their spelling mistakes so know they are genuine!

New Business Buddy

Although not everybody will have the same access to ICT as Colin does-some of the ideas can be adapted for aspects of any subject and it really does represent an exciting and innovative way to feedback.

Oral feedback

Some of the best feedback I’ve seen may have been given orally-marking/feedback doesn’t always have to be written down copiously. There is always the option of using the ‘teacher said’ or ‘oral feedback’ stampers to record words of wisdom but often they are said in the heat of the learning moment to offer advice or model e.g. in PE during gymnastics during a somersault-“you need to alter your approach to….” [You may have filmed the session and can use the film as evidence to feed-back or encourage peer/self-critique] or in cricket, “you need to grip the bat handle higher up to give greater power”-teacher takes the bat and models. Oral feedback doesn’t have to be the sole domain of practical subjects-you all give oral feedback-and great for you when you see the student has listened or observed and made a learning gain or the learning penny has dropped. Both PE and drama lesson study have explored student oral feedback and improving it to support better and more accurate self and peer critique, especially with our lower ability students. It’s one of the keys to helping them make learning progress by facilitating the development of subject specific literacy. A couple of mats they have developed [explained in previous blogs] made an impressive short term impact and need to be developed further.

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Marking codes

Some teachers do use marking codes which take a while to produce but then can be used rather than to write lots of feedback. The students check the codes given and then write the definitions/respond to them. I wrote a couple for my own subjects and one for Ric Dance in science because marking was weighing heavy on his joint role-teacher/progress manager-didn’t really take off. [although Ric did!] It’s 4 years old now and I was using it pre Ebac and pre the demise of NC levels-is there any mileage in this approach still based on the new BSG?

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It’s difficult to mark all of your books and give you detailed feedback, because I teach so many classes! I will continue to read your books and give rewards but will use the code below to assess your work. When you get your work back, you will need to check the codes I have given you e.g. C3, P2, M5 and write down ‘I have successfully……then add the sentences for C3, P2, M5; with a piece of evidence for each code. The second code will be advice as to how to improve, so you write, ‘I need to…..and add the sentence that matches the code……..easy and a short description of how you will actually achieve this improvement!

I could then check that their feedback was achieved or they or a peer could. It does save time and it does make the students think about interpreting the code and explaining the feedback and setting a new target. It might have lacked the personal touch that comment marking provides but I raise it as a possibility and some in other schools use various styles of code marking and report the success of them.

If you have time, I’ve attached some of David Didau’s blogs where he summarises different approaches and adds some reasons why we should feedback-great for policy writing and discussion. A couple of snippets that I like;


  1. Time savers – despite all the juice I try to squeeze out of my marking, there’s always scope to save more time. I love Lisa Ashes’ idea of using + – = to mark. Here’s my spin on it:



and Joe Kirby has also written about how using symbols can save precious time. He says,

Don’t write out comments. You end up writing such similar comments across the class, and they won’t read them anyway.

Instead, get them to write them out. Choose three to five targets or questions before you start marking, then scan their answer, choose the best fit between the student’s work and the group target, and draw an icon. One minute per book maximum. At the start of the next lesson, you write the targets on the board, students write their targets in their books. They get instant feedback and can take action on their target straight away.

Other external ideas that I like and I attach for those thinking of looking at new ideas, especially time saving ideas-you might want to have a quick look at Andy Tharby’s ideas [or just ask and I’ll find exactly what you need in my favourites folder!]

Science has used RAG marking/feedback inspired by external articles shared in school-check these out. Provided that evidence is given to justify the choice of RAG in subject specific terms-go for it-oral feedback/explanations are fine if you wish-you choose the appropriate form of response for that particular lesson and situation.


The North Oxfordshire Academy has their FAR burger to summarise their policy whilst some of our staff like Katie’s PEACE burgers to aid their students with evaluations/peer critique and.

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DOT marking

I also like the idea of dot marking and will be trying this out

The teacher or peer assessor puts a dot on a page to indicate there is a mistake-the student then searches for the error themselves without any clues putting the emphasis on them to find and correct. Variations could be to put the dot in the margin close to the mistake to make finding easier or to use different coloured dots for different types of errors-SPaG, lack of evidence, misconception, different aspects of SPaG and so on.

Icon marking

RE marking using forward/backwards symbols like you have on a remote control-can be used in any subject-check it out!

Daily marking

Depending on your subject [how many times a week you have your classes] you might like to try daily marking, nicely explained here. My partner has had a go and you might find that shorter daily marking, rather than waiting a week to mark a bigger quantity, may suit.

Loads of ideas in this blog!

Final external sharing comes from Chris Hildrew-some of his own but references to so many others here and a must read!

Our final internal sharing is from Emma in geography where she has given some different examples of her marking beginning with basic questions being used to check knowledge/misconceptions to begin the lesson with in DIRT. SPaG check on key words shown too and the feedback achieved sticker.

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Her other examples show peer critique giving advice and setting questions that need to be answered to achieve better mastery of the topic. Green for Miss, red and black for peer, blue for student.

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Stickers used to motivate, engage and comment on the quality of peer feedback.

This is the 56th page on my PC and still I can’t really get close to doing justice to the ideas, time spent and impact on learning that good marking and feedback has on our students. The examples here represent a tiny sample of reality and for all of the excellence of some of these; if other teachers aren’t marking well and other students aren’t receiving the feedback and engaging in the oral or written communication about their learning that they should be and is their right here-I haven’t been rigorous enough in my leadership.

Thank you to all who have shared and I hope that you have been inspired to try out some of the ideas in this blog or in any of our others. Have a wonderful holiday and well-earned rest.