Primary school teachers - how to make marking more effective!
One of the most demanding parts of a primary school teacher’s job is marking work. Many teachers dread marking, envisioning long hours spent bent over a seemingly never-ending stack of paper. Despite the pleasure of marking homework or a test done well, it can still feel extremely time-consuming, particularly when trying to give each pupil helpful individual feedback
Marking can be difficult, however ensuring that you do so effectively and in a way that gives pupils the most effective feedback, is incredibly important.
When faced with a large pile of marking it is easy to go through the motions. Instead of really thinking about how to use marking as an opportunity to make your pupils reflect and react, it can be tempting (and understandable) for teachers to instead try to come up with the most time-efficient way of getting through it as possible.
So what can teachers do to ensure that they mark pupils work effectively while also saving time? Or at the very least, not making life more difficult for themselves in the process?
Here are some useful techniques to try:
Only accept work from pupils that is of a certain quality. While you might have to skim-read what has been handed in to you more than once, you won’t have to mark the piece until you can tell the pupil has learnt and absorbed the concepts and information. This way, pupils are more likely to receive positive feedback from you, which will improve their confidence, and motivate them to try their hardest first time round.
Peer to peer marking
Instead of taking all your marking home with you, why not have pupils mark one another’s work instead? This can be helpful if the exercise you set them has simply right or wrong answers, but can also be interesting if marking has to be more subjective. This encourages pupils to think about why one answer might be better than another and helps them to reconsider the material learnt in class. You could take your pupils through the main objectives and ask them to highlight where they believe they (or their classmates) have met them.
Have fewer, but more focused learning objectives
Marking can be made simpler if teachers are just looking out for two or three things to be demonstrated in the homework. This way, when it comes to marking, they will be able to easily see if the objectives have been met. This makes life easier for teachers and gives pupils clearer and more focused objectives. The benefits for pupils are perhaps even greater than for teachers as it makes it easier for them to focus on what’s important and gives them a greater opportunity to succeed.
Instead of telling pupils exactly where they went wrong, tell them the number of answers they got wrong. They may then go back through their work, identifying and correcting errors. This could be done either individually or in small groups and will not only reduce marking time for teachers but encourage pupils to evaluate and improve their own work.
Giving considered feedback is important: if a pupil has made many mistakes (or misunderstood the task set), it is important to give them meaningful feedback that enables them to identify and address these errors. If a student has done particularly well, positive feedback is also useful, motivating them to build upon their successes and strive to improve further in future tasks.
Marking pupils work effectively is an important part of a primary school teacher’s job, and using the strategies above will help make marking a more rewarding experience for both pupils and teachers alike.
If you are looking for an effective way to mark pupils’ work, why not download one of our assessment grids? These helpful grids detail National Curriculum objectives (or lesson-specific objectives) with spaces to record pupils’ progress throughout the year, creating a useful record to track learning across a wide range of subjects.