How many times have you spent a Sunday burrowed away marking? What about filling your boot with bags of marking… and leaving them in there for the weekend? When you mark, how many different coloured pen combinations do you use: Purple for Progress? Red and green? Highlighting sections? Marking can be the blight in the plight of teacher work-life balance. So here are some handy tips to minimise your marking.
Pre-print the success criteria on stickers and then you will only need to tick or highlight parts your students have achieved. It looks neater, means your marking is consistent and is as simple as a stick and a tick!
This can take some time to train your students, but is well worth the effort! Give your students one or more specific things to look for and ask them to colour them in with a pencil or highlighter, creating a key for the colours and success criteria. This will mean students have a chance to read the work of their peers and through thorough training, it also means your students will start to identify the successes for you, saving you time!
If your students are completing a longer piece, such as an essay or descriptive writing piece, ask them to put boxes around two paragraphs – the one they think is their best paragraph and the one they think is their least successful. When marking, mark in detail both of these paragraphs – it is likely some common errors will be identified, you’ve got a good measure of how your students are getting on and it will save you time too – bonus!
Identify some common errors or targets that you expect from the work you are marking. Give each one a different coloured dot and as you mark, instead of writing the target, just do a coloured dot in the margin. When handing the books back out, display a slide with the targets and the corresponding coloured dots. Students can then write out the target and complete it in their books. There is an argument that this forces students to properly engage with their feedback instead of speed reading it and ignoring it forevermore.
When marking, give a nominal mark in books, but save detailed comments and feedback for a whole-class feedback slide on your PowerPoint or on a printout. You can have a ‘Shout Out’ column to celebrate individual students, list common errors as well as common successes and give some hints and tips. You could even incorporate the dot marking idea above so each student still gets specific feedback too!
You might also want to read:
Top Tips to Tackle the Marking Workload for Teachers