Category Archives: Book Look 2016

Book Look Part Four – Carmel’s Guest Blog

The Science department, as previously blogged about have been working with a class set of iPads this year and developing strategies to maximising learning and progress using digital technology. Carmel, our head of Science has been developing the use of “Showbie” with all her classes. This blog represents a summary of the work that has been done so far in terms of feedback to students on completed work.

A new way of working – A new way of marking and feedback
This is in response to several issues:
• New GCSE science is more demanding and contains more content.
• Our curriculum time has been reduced and content has increased.
• Pupils are not responding to revision classes, either not turning up or not focusing when they do.
• Homework is an issue we have not yet cracked – some do it, some don’t and the VLE has become an excuse not to.
• The collection and marking of this homework was not efficient and the feedback time too long to benefit pupils.
Our new way (on trial):
Make use of range of devices to let pupils carry out work in their preferred way.
Re-invent the concept of homework so pupils don’t see it as a weekly task that could be missed, but an requirement of the course that has to be completed.
The work pupils were asked to do had to have real purpose and value and not be just a box ticking exercise.
A culture of independence that was proven to lead to better results that you were missing out if you didn’t participate.
What we did/are doing:
I have created/sourced an extensive range of questions / worksheets and mark schemes.
I have uploaded them in manageable chunks onto Showbie – showbie is primarily an iPad app but files can be accessed and viewed through any device. Whatever format pupils work in, completed work can be uploaded back to showbie and mangaged there.
Pupils always have access to the questions on their phones, pc or tablets.
Pupils can answer questions directly on the iPad by typing or writing directly on the screen. They can work on their PC e.g. word etc and upload the answers into the showbie folder. They can work on paper and photograph the sheet and upload it onto showbie. This gathers everything together in one place and in my opinion is the strength of the process. All work is checked and signed off by the teacher, it must have been completed in a certain way to get signed off. If pupils need support they ask for very specific help via showbie comments. I have been developing this workflow over several months now and think we have got the balance about right now.
Reviewing work (marking):
As the volume of work is very high it is impossible to mark every piece of work and if pupils are working in the right way this should be unnecessary. We wanted to encourage a culture of independence and pride in hard work and perseverance. We also recognised that
pupils often did work to please the teacher and need someone to take and interest in what they are doing and give them a pat on the back for doing it. By giving the pupils the mark scheme at the same time as the questions we moved the ‘pat of the back’ focus from ‘getting the answer right’ to ‘completing the work’. The next crucial part was to initiate and maintain high standards of working that, if slip,are pulled up straight away. This takes a great deal of effort at the start but less to maintain but is essential to the whole process being effective.


Everything is tracked in a simple excel spreadsheet. When a piece of work is signed off the colour of the cell is changed from red to green. Amber is for pieces of work started but not completed.  At first (Phase1), I allowed pupils to select which topics they wanted to work on but i have now changed this as some topics/questions were being avoided! Restarting the trackers again at this point (Phase2) also proved important as a number of pupils who had got behind became committed to keeping up to date.

I upload lots of assignments so pupils can work at their own pace. There often seems a number of pupils that go ahead and this spurs the others into action when they see they are lagging behind.I show the tracker at the beginning of every lesson just to keep it in pupils minds. The element of competition seems to prove very important.

Next phase (started this term) is to blend this in with lesson expectations and interleaving.

How much work has been done?

An incredible amount by the pupils. We have never had success on this scale with homework. Classes who have been taking part:

Last term… this format

Y11 Triples Physics – now moved to all three sciences

Y10 Triple Physics – now moved to all three sciences

Last term…. in a different format that was too difficult to track and manage but has now moved to this workflow

Y9 set 1 dabbled with extra homework and worksheets in lessons, moved to new workflow this week

Y8 set 4 used for oracy and recall – moved to this workflow this week

Y7 set 2 same as 9.1 and moved to new workflow just before xmas

Y7 set 6 used for recall and practical lessons, will follow to this workflow in a few weeks.

The images below show the screen that students see when they logon to complete the work as well as the way that teacher and student can interact through the submission of work.

CM 1  CM 3

CM 4This image shows some of the work being submitted by students, scanned and uploaded to the showbie folder.

The images below show the development of the feedback dialogue between teacher and student.

CM 9  CM 8

CM 7  CM 6

This is a trial that is evolving all the time and there are sure to be future blogs about our progress!

Book Look Part Three – Science and ICT

Book Look Part Three – Science and ICT

The third book look in this four part series looks at the science and ICT departments. I have previously blogged about all the great work going on in the Science departments with the use of iPads and for some staff this has become an integral part of their marking and feedback also. Tim, our head of ICT, is also leading a Learning Hub on the different ways that ICT can facilitate feedback to students and I will blog about this in the coming weeks.

People have said to me that some of the most useful aspects of the book look blogs have been the details on the fast feedback trials departments are undertaking and the way in which DIRT is becoming more and more embedded. This blog will focus specifically on this.

As part of a DIRT trial across the department Lucy has been looking at whether students need to redraft a whole piece of work or just make additions or amendments without re-drafting the whole piece. With 10.2 Lucy has found that the students are far more engaged with DIRT if they are given the chance to add and amend rather than re-draft a whole piece. Lucy has also been developing her DIRT time with peer assessment and students feeding back to each other, allowing the pupil’s time to look at their errors and decide how to overcome them.LH literacy

Phil has taken a slightly different approach to DIRT and will ask open ended questions that are then peer assessed. He also uses lessons for students to write reflections on what they have learnt, with clear examples, within a particularly learning cycle. This will the lead to a “prove it” action and response.





Unlike Lucy, Rachael has been experimenting with the “perfect” answer box with year 10 triple scientists, in which they will re-draft a whole answer and then put it in a perfect answer box. This is allowing them to build up a bank of perfect answers for 6 mark questions to use in revision. Rachael has also been using her lead learners to circle the room and peer assess work of other students. Rachael sees this developing in such a way that any student in the class can become a lead learner.

perfect box marking 1

Holly has been trialling some of the strategies picked up in the learning hubs. She is developing student questioning by focusing on the development of questions using specific command words. Holly has also been developing her use of “dashit” marking – a strategy from another one of our scientists, Wendy. This involves students reviewing their work, particularly tests and assessments and identifying areas where they could have got more marks if they had the confidence to put down something they weren’t sure on or if a key word in the question is explained to them allowing them to fully grasp the meaning. This often gives a very different picture in terms of outcomes for students and can really boost the confidence of some of the less able.

HW 1    HW 5

This is something that Hannah has also been trialling along with dot marking to identify literacy errors. As part of her work with the learning hubs Hannah has also developed a range of stickers to use as part of DIRT as well as identifying growth mindset and flagging this up in feedback.

HS 1HS teweetHS text an alien

HS 4  weekly facts

All of the science department are working with the weekly facts to improve recall and aid memory retention. This involves ten key facts to be learnt each week and then a weekly test. This is interleaved week by week to incorporate facts from previous weeks.

In ICT labels are being used to track students’ progress and comment on anything extra they can do to progress further. In this instance Tim has given the student a 2 for effort, they have used most of the techniques to create a working slideshow but have not completed the work with the annotations to explain what they have done.

ICT peer assessment 2  edmodo 5Students are able to post to “the wall” their 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 the entire group can give mass feedback on all of the work at the same time. Tim and Claud 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.

Edmodo is being used in ICT in a number of ways. It can be used to give feedback from teacher to student and from student to student. Edmodo is something that Tim has been trying to roll out to other staff and in leading a hub on the use of digital technology to develop feedback he can compare the qualities of Edmodo against other software technologies such as blendspace and class dojo. The use of Edmodo has also promoted the use of numeracy skills as it allows percentage calculations related to feedback. In addition numeracy is also being developed through spreadsheets and algorithms.

Edmodo 4  edmodo 5

This third book look will be followed up by another guest blog from Carmel, our Head of Science, who has written about her marking trial using the iPads.

Book Look Part Two

Book Look Part 2 – Humanities and MFL
As I begin my second “book look” I am yet again bowled over by the quality and depth of the marking, this time in Humanities and MFL, the departments which form the second focus of the “book look series”.

I have started by taking an example from each self assessment which focuses on something the line manager emphasised as a particular strength within the marking:

Helen told Marion that her “challenge questions” were effectively extending pupils learning and that she liked Eddie’s trialling of the “5 a day” taken from the hubs. Bronagh told Chelsea that she was really encouraged by the way her marking was developing pupil’s writing skills and she noted that Helen has really extended the variety of DIRT activities she is using.

Emma told Toni that her marking and feedback showed great development of with lots of dialogue, new ideas and questioning skills shown at various levels. Greg felt that Charlotte’s EBI questions were really extending learning and that Martin’s development of literacy stickers was something that all the department had benefitted from.

I was really impressed with the depth of marking of both Emma and Greg and their willingness to model and trial new ideas.  I loved Bronagh’s idea of the “golden phrase” for students to peer assess and pick out something they felt their peer had excelled in and Helen’s structured peer assessment framework, MONSEIUR was a great way to scaffold student’s to give constructive feedback.
The 4 D’s – Dialogue Development, DIRT and Drafting
 ED GCSe re-daraftsAcross Humanities and MFL the level of dialogue by teachers with students is being developed and effective use is being made of DIRT time. Both departments have noted that DIRT is most effective when a whole lesson is given for students to fully re-draft work and make corrections. There are a number of different strategies being trialled which is helping to promote a culture of reflection and improvement. In Humanities, extensive use is being made of stickers to develop dialogue; marking stickers show level/grade criteria and teachers and students can use these easily to mark work anED GM languaged show WWW/EBI for students to then improve on. Questions are posed in both Humanities and MFL to develop dialogue and students extend, consolidate or showcase their learning by answering these questiED basic Qs for low abilityons.





In lower ability classes the questions are often closed with specific knowledge development being focused on and more able students are extended through more open questioning.

The student’s responses to questions are also being verified, either by the teacher through further marking or by a peer. Emma uses the lesson time to verify it as students are working, circulating with a green pen and highlighter. The development of dialogue also links in to peer assessment with student’s completing each other’s questions and responding to their feedback, opening up a dialogue with their peers. GT peer marking

Martin is developing his tracking to demonstrate where students have levelled up as a result of feedback and responding to dialogue. Across Humanities and MFL there is a feeling that dialogue development is helping to tackle misconceptions and develop progress. Helen (French) noted that she is receiving written work of a much higher quality and students are able to use their work for revision for speaking and writing assessments. Helen (Spanish) said that it has improved the accuracy of work, particularly in year ten as it has made them more aware of grammar, with them using the grammar garden display to promote grammar improvements. Bronagh feels the greatest impact has been to reduce the number of silly mistakes. Marion has been developing questioning in her marking by giving students challenge questions to extend their learning. Greg has already tweeted quite extensively about his sticker development, using extension stickers for fast marking and finding that the students are taking greater pride in their work through tweet tweets and polaroid moments.

extension stickersGT extension tweet
Peer and Self Assessment
History have been using peer and self assessment to develop student understanding of mark schemes and BSG criteria. Students can highlight where they think their peer is on a grid showing the criteria for an examination question or a KS3 assessment. BD sa BD SA 2








Greg, Martin and Charlotte noted that students are becoming better at giving constructive comments to their peers. With lower ability students they are often given sentence starters or prompts to help them. Emma and Toni both talked about how students confidence is improving with peer assessment, particularly in KS4 where there is more time available to devote to it. Emma was really pleased with the way her lower ability students, particularly in year 11 have developed with peer assessment, becoming much better at assessing each other’s work.ED GCSe re-darafts She is using the STEAL idea to help them to learn from each other and to share their ideas. Martin has been developing three way dialogue following on from some work he has done previously in a hub. He is also trialling GM ideas by getting students to moderate a set of work to try and draw out misconceptions and themes.

Greg has been trialling ABC feedback, and has also encouraged Charlotte to do the same. This is not only developing peer feedback and dialogue with a clear scaffold but is also teaching the valuable historical skills of challenging and arguing effectively. Helen (Spanish) has developed a self-assessment checklist to allow students to fully check their work before a peer or the teacher and Helen (French) and Marion are using MONSEIUR peer assessment sheets for feed forward advice. HH peer assessment 2Bronagh has been using peer and self-assessment to further develop fast feedback by getting pupils to rate themselves or their peers BSG against the learning outcomes at the end of each lesson. The SENORITA checklist is used widely across Spanish by Bronagh, Chelsea and Helen to ensure students thoroughly check their work. In peer assessment students must highlight their peers work to give justification for their feedback.
 Martin 3Literacy has been a big focus across the school and the Humanities faculty have looked for a variety of ways to try and improve pupil literacy. Martin and Greg have developed stickers to promote further independence and to ensure students are checking their work for spag errors. The sticker is placed next to a particular paragraph and the student must then find their error. Martin feels that he now needs to work on developing numeracy in DIRT.

martin 2







Toni has been trialling dot marking for literacy errors, much like the dot marking used for correcting target language errors in MFL.

BD literacy

Toni has found this particularly successful with lower ability students. Emma and Toni have also been developing extensive resources to promote understanding of key GCSE command words. They have created a booklet for year 11 students to use to ensure that they know how to approach different types of command words. Emma noted that the impact of this was really evident in the year 11 mocks. Helen (Spanish) has been using a highlighter to draw student’s attention to spelling and syntax errors for correction. Helen (French) notes that all literacy errors are corrected in the target language and Eddie continues to use dot marking for literacy.
New Ideas
This is an area where both departments have been working hard, looking at ways to develop fast feedback and ultimately reduce workload without losing impact. Following in the footsteps of English, History have been trialling marking codes and Geography, following on from the January INSET have also been trialling marking codes.

GT code marking          GT codes

Both of them note that it is too early to really comment on impact but are certainly finding it quicker and engaging students in their feedback more. History have been refining and developing their use of stickers in all areas as well as ABC marking to enhance peer assessment and polaroid moments and tweets to grow confidence and pride. Emma has been literacy fast marking, circulating the room with a highlighter and a pen as students work so as feedback can be immediate and corrected there and then. martin 1Martin has been adopting the purple pen of progress for students to make corrections so it is easy for him to see where they have made changes.

Charlotte has been trialling highlighter marking and peer verification and adopting a number of strategies from Greg to help develop her marking and to find strategies that work for her and her students. BD checklist for SA

In Spanish Helen has been using feedback grids for extended work with a simple tick box system for students to check off as they have completed aspects of a piece of work.

Bronagh has been encouraging students to annotate questions to develop their approach to the exams, getting them to think of possible questions and related vocab prior to a listening exercise. In French Helen has been trialling a number of help mats that she has adapted from Katrina in the questioning hubs. She has been using these to break down questions so the students find it easier to approach them.

CC interleaving vocab

Chelsea has been trialling dashit marking with year 11 students to try and boost confidence and resilience and build a growth mindset, she has also been interleaving vocab tests to try and reinforce memory and recall. Marion has also been trialling some of her work from the hubs and the Breakfast Jams, looking at the development of questioning and modelling – she has taken the Disney film “Frozen” and developed some work around the theme “Do you want to build a snowman?”

CC dash it markingOverall the feedback that the students are receiving in Humanities and MFL is excellent and it is great to see so many new ideas and strategies being trialled and shared.