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Effective Marking & Feedback in Writing

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1 Effective Marking & Feedback in Writing
Moving from a Focus on the Process of Marking to the Evaluation of its Impact on Learning Andy Hawes Senior Learning & Teaching Adviser

2 Aims of the Workshop To explore ways in which leaders can enable teachers to mark writing more effectively by focusing on the guidance that they give to pupils to help them to make improvements To help leaders to consider how to evaluate the impact of marking on improving pupils’ learning.

3 Marking & Feedback in School Inspections
“Inspectors must consider whether: pupils understand well how to improve their work, which goes beyond whether they know their current ‘target grade’ or equivalent…” (School Inspection Handbook December 2014: Ofsted) “Outstanding (1) …Consistently high quality marking and constructive feedback from teachers ensure that pupils make significant and sustained gains in their learning. Good (2) …Teachers assess pupils’ learning and progress regularly and accurately at all key stages. They ensure that pupils know how well they have done and what they need to do to improve.” This slide shows the current statements about the quality of learning and teaching defined as ‘good’ by Ofsted in the latest update of their school inspection handbook. These statements are the key to marking – pupils simply need to know what they have done well, how they need to improve and/or what needs to be done next. The critical point here is that, in line with the view that inspectors should not be looking for any one particular style of teaching when observing lessons, they are similarly not looking for any one particular methodology for marking. Please see handout (Ofsted Inspections – clarifications for schools) The key consideration for schools, therefore, is to what extent their marking & feedback policy and the methodology therein enables teachers to provide pupils with feedback that will enable those pupils to understand what they have done well, what needs to be improved or done next and to what extent this leads to gains in learning.

4 Common Features of Local Marking Policies
Focus on manageability – reducing the amount teachers physically write, while retaining the diagnostic and learning-focused approach; Appropriately prompt & regular feedback; Primary focus on marking to learning objectives and/or success-criteria that are fully understood by learners – moving away from a model that feeds back on anything and everything; Appropriate focus on spelling, grammar, etc, in addition to the learning objective; Often very ‘visual’ (e.g. highlighter pens; marking codes); Ensuring that children are given time to reflect upon and respond appropriately to the marking; Pupils making improvements in a different colour pen/pencil so that the response is clearly visible; Focus on consistency of approach across the school.

5 Common Issues with Marking in Local Schools
Lack of clarity in the intended learning outcome (e.g. weak objective; poor or missing success-criteria, etc,) leading to teachers not being sure about what the focus of the marking should be. This often leads to low-level improvement suggestions with little impact on learning; Poor teacher subject knowledge leading to weak improvement suggestions – often leads to ‘general editing’ rather than powerful and effective improvement; Teachers tend to be better at identifying what pupils can do, rather than being sharply focused on what needs to be done to improve further; Poorly worded improvement suggestions that do not facilitate effective pupil response; Pupils’ response to marking not being given a high enough profile within daily classroom organisation.

6 Developing the Quality of Improvement Suggestions
Improvement suggestions should focus on what will make the most difference to the pupil as a writer; Improvement suggestions will very often be linked to the learning objective/key aspects of the success-criteria but equally may focus on developing specific aspects of generic literacy skills, (e.g. specific aspects of sentence structure, etc), that impact on the overall effect of the writing on the reader; Ensuring that wording enables pupils to respond effectively; Using a variety of strategies to engage the learner in the process of responding effectively.

7 Aide-Memoires for Improvement
‘Reminder’: Remind the pupils of the learning objective or success-criteria statement that they need to revisit: “Choose effective adjectives to describe your character;” ‘Scaffold’: Prompt the pupils to tackle the improvement: “Please replace these adjectives with stronger ones so the reader knows exactly what the character is like.” ‘Example’: Show the pupils what improvement might actually look like: you might give them a choice of two alternatives which will be discussed with them: “The wizard’s long, flowing beard was as white as snow… The wizard’s long beard went down to his tummy.’ Which one do you think is the best and why?” You might give them an example then ask them to try a similar idea in another sentence, etc.

8 What are your overall comments about this marking?
Example 1: What are your overall comments about this marking? The LO and the task do not really match – the pupil has just retold part of the story The first sentence does include some good description but the teacher does not highlight or acknowledge this The comment does not tell the pupil how or why this is “a good start to the description” (is this even an accurate statement?) There is no guidance here to help the pupil to build on the good first sentence and develop the writing further Marking like this would clearly raise some significant cause for concern and would probably hit RAG ratings of ‘red’ (or equivalent) on your scrutiny forms, as it does not provide the pupil with any useful information about their learning. It does attempt to provide a positive comment, but ‘a good start’ does not give the pupil any information about what is good or why it is good and there is certainly nothing to help the pupil to move on. What could the teacher have asked the pupil to do to improve this piece of writing?

9 How well does it move them on in their learning?
Example 2: How well does this marking inform the pupil of what they have done well? How well does it move them on in their learning? The marking informs the pupil of what they have done well related to the intended learning (persuasion) The teacher rightly identifies an issue with the text-structure The teacher then asks the pupil to do something completely different to improve the work. A missed opportunity given what she has just identified as an issue with paragraph 2. On the face of it, this marking does what many of our policies asks for – it does identify what the pupil has done well. It does identify areas to improve. It does provide a suggestion activity to which the pupil dutifully responds. However, the actual ‘next step’ activity is poorly focused when compared to the key issue highlighted by the teacher. This is probably due to the fact that the success-criteria shared with the pupil correctly included ‘rhetorical questions’ as a key element of persuasion. However, what is more important here – the inclusion of a rhetorical question merely to complete the success-criteria checklist, or the organisation of the writing to impact on the reader? Clearly, in this instance, it is the latter that will have most long-term and sustained impact on the pupil as a writer. How many of your teachers focus on the success-criteria as the key tool for evaluating learning rather than the overall objective or the overall aim of the writing? E.g. for this writing, it is perfectly possible for a piece of writing to be successfully persuasive without including rhetorical questions. However, it is much less likely for a piece of writing to successfully persuade the reader if the persuasive arguments are poorly organised. By focusing on the * paragraph, the teacher can ascertain whether or not the pupil really understands how paragraphs can be used to organise and structure this particular text-type – i.e. does the pupil need further work on the organisation of ideas into paragraphs? “* Please redraft this section as 2 separate paragraphs.”

10 How well does this marking: Identify what the pupil has done well?
Example 3: How well does this marking: Identify what the pupil has done well? Identify what the pupil needs to do to improve? It focuses on the objective and success-criteria It shows the pupil which parts of the writing are successful The improvement suggestion draws the pupil’s attention to the aspect of the success-criteria that is missing, but would including a simile really move the learning on enough? This piece of writing is from a lower attaining pupil in Y6. On the face of it, this also includes most of what our marking policies would ask for - it does identify what the pupil has done well. It does identify areas to improve. It does provide a suggestion activity to which the pupil dutifully responds. However, this is certainly a similar situation to that in example 2, as here we can clearly see the success-criteria, ticked (presumably by the teacher) and ‘similes’ is missed out. In order to move this pupil on, the focus should be around either the final sentence and strengthening it so that it relates more closely to the earlier description (thereby helping the pupil to focus on fully sustaining viewpoint throughout) or some work around the structure of the sentences so that fewer begin with (or include) ‘I’. A focus on developing the strength of the vocabulary and the variation of sentence structures is far more likely to have long-term impact on the pupils’ writing than being able to include similes (which are often weak and stereotypical, even in quite able pupils’ writing). Can you think of a better improvement suggestion to move this writing on?

11 Acknowledgement of the overall quality of the ideas
Example 4: Acknowledgement of the overall quality of the ideas Challenge to the pupil regarding the actual structure of the sentences (and reference to prior learning) – this is good because the imagery will only work to best effect within a variety of sentence structures Clear evidence of the pupil not only responding directly to the suggestion, but also going back into the work to revise the content. This is a classic example of the teacher not fully understanding just how hard it is for primary pupils to use metaphor effectively! However, that aside, this marking is effective because the teacher is fully aware of the importance of the sentence structure being right when creating effective imagery and the fact that sentence structure is of critical importance in moving writing on. Also, by making links to the pupils’ prior experience in guided work, the teacher has challenged the pupil to match that previous quality in their independent work. This has clearly motivated the pupil to go back and, not just revisit the original improvement suggestion (which has been modelled as an ‘example’ by the teacher), but to revisit the rest of the work and try to apply the ideas. From this, the teacher can work out whether or not to focus more time on effective re-ordering of aspects of sentences.

12 Link between peer/self-assessment and teacher’s marking
Example 5: Engaging task that enables the pupils to practise/apply the specific aspect of sentence structure Link between peer/self-assessment and teacher’s marking The improvement suggestion is pertinent and, if the pupil applies it to subsequent writing, sentence structure and its impact on the reader will be enhanced. The pupil’s response is not great, but it does show basic understanding and gives the teacher an idea of potential. This example shows how effective it can be when pupils are fully involved in the process and where the teacher has excellent subject knowledge. Here, there is evidence of peer and/or self-assessment working alongside the teacher’s marking. The pupils have correctly highlighted areas of success. The teacher has provided guidance about specific parts of the writing, to which the pupil has responded. In addition, the teacher has provided a very helpful piece of advice about sentence structure. This advice, if followed properly, will give the pupil an extra string to their bow with regard to selecting sentence structures to impact on the reader. In addition, the teacher has also provided the pupil with an example to show what he means. The pupil has then had a go. Although their attempt is not especially great, it does show the teacher that the pupil has at least a basic understanding of what he has asked. The teacher will no doubt follow this up with the pupil in subsequent pieces of writing.

13 Marking Activity There is a range of work from across the primary age-range, and this does deliberately include some higher-attaining Y6 and an example of writing from a Level 6 standards file (examples 2 and 3 and 5 in your information pack), so secondary colleagues may well prefer to tackle one of these examples. Select a piece of writing and see if you can identify a high-value improvement suggestion for the writer.

14 Evaluating the quality of marking and its impact on learning
Does the monitoring process enable leaders to: Evaluate the effectiveness of teachers’ identification of what pupils are doing well? Evaluate the effectiveness of teachers’ guidance for pupils regarding areas to improve and/or next steps in learning? Is the monitoring focused enough on the content of the marking, rather than the process? E.g: Do teachers’ improvement suggestions facilitate long-term improvement, or are they simply ‘short-term edits’? How do you know? Does your evaluation of the quality/impact of marking match with the amount of progress being made by the pupils? What are the pupils’ views about how marking helps them to become better writers?

15 Marking Within the Work Scrutiny Process
How well established is the process for effective marking? If the process is well established, what about the content? Suggested headings for marking on work scrutiny forms: How well do teachers identify what pupils have done successfully? How well do teachers identify what pupils need to do to improve? How well do teachers exemplify to the pupils what to improve and how to do it? Do pupils respond to the marking? If so, is there evidence of the response moving them on? Is there evidence in subsequent pieces of work to show the improvement being made/consolidated/applied?

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