The problem with marking and how to solve it

2022-01-31T20:03:24+00:00January 31st, 2022|workload|

Every teacher - particularly English teachers - has huge existential guilt about marking. When I worked full time as a teacher marking was the first thing to go when the stress inevitably piled up. And if we excoriate ourselves sufficiently to make sure mock exams and termly assessments receive sufficient attention, who's got time to keep up with all those Key Stage 3 books?, There are only so many hours in the day and the only way to survive the brutal realities of teaching is to make correspondingly brutal choices. Pretty everything teachers do has value, but it's unavoidably true that [...]

The Capital Letter Problem Part 2: Pressure and release

2016-08-28T17:11:11+01:00August 27th, 2016|writing|

In my last post I defined what I'm calling The Capital Letter Problem and set out some of its causes. Briefly, children pick up and embed bad habits when writing and, although they often know what should be done, they'll revert to what's been practised when under any kind of pressure. One solution could be to take a lesson from the world of horse training. Horse trainer Linda Parelli talks about the use of pressure and release. As she explains it, "Pressure motivates, release teaches." ... teaching and training horses really is quite simple, because it involves not much more than the appropriate application [...]

When should we stop making students redraft work?

2016-08-27T09:04:17+01:00September 14th, 2015|writing|

I managed to catch a bit of #Engchatuk today and was interested to see that the discussion was on how to get students to redraft their work. Redrafting is something I advocate when travelling round different schools and I've spent a fair bit of time training teachers in how to get students to proofread their work and subject it to critical scrutiny. There were lots of useful ideas, some of which I recognised and other which I may well pinch, but I was particularly intrigued by this contribution: @EngChatUK When does drafting stop in the new era of one-chance only 100% exam...? [...]

What should written feedback look like?

2015-05-10T14:30:56+01:00May 4th, 2015|Featured|

To free a person from error is to give, and not to take away. Arthur Schopenhauer In response to my last post, Cristina Milos pointed out that I use the term 'feedback' without providing any further clarification as to what I mean. She challenged me to explain exactly how I envisioned the feedback process taking place and to be clear about what, specifically, it ought to contain. Now of course feedback can take various different forms, but seeing as I've been exploring ways to reduce teachers' marking load, it's probably apposite to address what written feedback might look like. But, first some ground [...]

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