Friday, June 17, 2011

Changing My Marking For Better of Worse

When I began my position at Moody Middle I had kids printing out their first assignment. When I looked at the pile of paper from the first 4 of 6 blocks on the first assignment, I saw several problems.

1.) Wow, this is a lot of paper. They aren't going to keep it.

2.) Once they printed the paper off, it was not going to be easy to make changes and make corrections.

3.) Once I wrote my comments on the paper, they would only read the comments if they were negatively surprised at the mark.

So then I started using the online "hand-in bin" on my classroom sharepoint site. I would write in the comment box on the student's hand in form, which only they can read. This reduced the paper. But, there were still some problems:

1.) Students didn't read the comments unless they were negatively surprised by their marks.

2.) Students didn't make changes or corrections to their work after handing in their work, even if they knew what they needed to improve upon or correct.

Now, I mark in a couple of different ways. Sometimes I record my voice into their MS Word document as an embedded object, and the kids listen to my comments. I don't say the mark until the end. Mostly, I have just do a lot of loops around the room, and mark students with inconsistent performance first, lower achievers second, and high performers third. But, I call up my high performers to my desk for a ten second "whatchagonnado" chat at the start of the assignment, and periodically I ask them to share ideas mid assignment. Then I have other students weigh in on those ideas, so we are all on the same page.

In the first days of teaching, I have to repeat the instructions and criteria daily. I never show really good examples of completed work, or else I get 30 copies of the same example - mine. I teach the kids about how to self-assess, and stress the importance of being able to justify the mark they give themselves based on the goals of the assignment.

Marking now takes a couple days for some major assignments. Sometimes 3 days. I have just finished one of those weeks. It's tiring, but I think the fact that marking major projects has become a conversation has paid off with improved learning. And, I feel I have connected better with my students this way as I only get to know them 8 weeks at a time.

Worth it.

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