Making a mockery of marking

The smell of mulled wine, John Lewis advert on TV, houses lit up with decorations; it can only mean one thing. Yes, it is mock exam season.

Like teachers all over the country, like I have done for the last 14 years, I have carted home my mock exams this weekend ready to mark. This year, following on from an excellent CPD session at our school by Emma Smith and numourous blogs on marking and feedback (such as this one by @Bennewmark), I am determined to do things differently.

In the past I would not only mark the paper but would cover it with annotation to give feedback to each individual pupil. The next lesson I would give out the papers, talk through the common mistakes and points from the examiners report (i.e. The exact same information I had decorated their paper with) before they redid questions they had done badly on. Then those papers would be gathered in to collect dust on a shelf and maybe handed back for a lesson before the final exams. This year I am determined to spend a lot less time marking and a lot more time making sure that they make a difference to the pupils.

  1. I have marked the papers but have just written the mark for each question. I haven’t written any other annotation. I have made a note of common errors and my thoughts about each question that I want to feedback to pupils.
  2. In our next lesson they will get their papers back – without the grade because 1) all they fixate on is this grade and nothing else and 2) they have done very well and whilst this is lovely I want them to get the feedback without a sense of complacency setting in. I will talk through each question and draw their attention to common mistakes that were made. As I go through they can annotate their papers.
  3. They can then redraft answers that they didn’t do well on.
  4. The following lesson I will use a selection of answers to questions where they performed poorly as a class and they can carry out some comparative judgement work to look at what makes a good answer.
  5. I will create some exemplar answers of similar questions for them to critique.
  6. Finally – for now – they will answer some different exam questions in areas they were weak on to see if they can show improvement.

Hopefully this will not only save me a lot of time which I can spend on more productive things (like marking their Controlled Assessments) but will also make the experience more useful for them. I’ll let you know.


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