Monthly Archives: February 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.