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Progress in my classroom…?


Fifteen years or so ago, if someone had asked me how I knew my students were making progress, I would have had a simple answer. I’d have produced my markbook, where homework and timed essays, mock exams etc would all be recorded. I could have complicated the issue by producing the sheets of paper on which were scribbled students’ targets for improvement, identified after each bout of marking – but really I thought the markbook ought to be enough.

These days it’s what’s written on those sheets of paper (and I still seem to need them) that matters to me most. The real issue is not whether I can see a nice progression of marks / grades on my tracking sheet, all traffic-lighted and smart. It’s whether the students know what it is they need to do to improve, to move up the mark bands, and whether they actaually put this into practice.

Recently I have implemented two very simple ideas, both of which were inspired by reading other teachers’ blogs.

1. Student self-assessment and target setting using the “ladder”

I turned the mark scheme for the AS English Language Mode question into a “ladder”. The assessment criteria for each band were re-worded as statements students could tick off to assess themselves. Alongside this ladder, I left a space where students could write their own targets for progression. They use this to check their own learning, to select differentiated tasks, and to give me feedback so I can plan the next run of lessons. It makes the progress visible to them and me and is having a very positive impact – not only on the students’ work, but also on their morale. They know they are progressing: they can see the steps taken and still to come.

This idea works well with this speciifcation and question, where there are separate marks for each AO and the criteria for each mark band are transparent and reasonably objective. Not all markschemes are equally amenable to this treatment.

2. Giving the students “actions” in their feedback instead of targets for improvement

At the end of my written feedback for the AS English Lang and Lit students, instead of giving them a target to improve next time, I have started giving them actions that they must carry out in the lesson as soon as they get the essay back. This often involves re-writing a section of the essay, or adding to it. From what I can see so far, this is having a positive impact on most of the group, who can see what improvement looks like within one lesson.

My next step is to try and combine these two approaches.

I still often stick my markbook under their noses though: “Look, you’ve gone from a D to a B this term!” has a certain power.

This was my first blog for blogsync.

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  1. 4. April 2013 #blogsync: Progress EDUTRONIC | #blogsync

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