Marking Crib Sheets

A strategy for providing whole class feedback whilst minimising marking…
Is it possible to be able to provide effective whole class feedback and praise whilst minimising the time spent marking?
When faced with a class set of books to mark, it can be a daunting prospect to read through each pupil’s work adding constructive comments and individualised praise. Indeed, we often find ourselves repeating the same comment time and time again; highlighting the same misconceptions, spelling or grammatical mistakes and failure to adhere to standard presentation rules.
Thank you to an inspirational session by Pete Sanderson at Leicester College (@LessonToolbox) introducing me to an idea originally trialled by Greg Thornton (@MrThorntonTeach) I may have discovered a solution: The Marking Crib Sheet.
A relatively simple idea, in which common misconceptions and errors, identified through marking, are recorded on a whole class crib sheet rather than individually in student’s books. This sheet can then be disseminated amongst the students for use when reviewing their own work.
I decided to trial the idea with a year 8 form providing feedback after marking their exercise books.

Crib sheet 1 example– feedback from marking exercise books.
The feedback sheet was divided into distinct sections as demonstrated below and then filled in as the books were being marked.Crib

How did I use it in the lesson?
• Time spent on feedback – half a lesson (approx. 20 minutes)
• Pupils were asked to go through the checklist and make sure they had all of the work listed and in the correct order. Any missing worksheets were available from me or they were asked to get notes from another student. Some pupils had simply not glued in the sheets, so this was easily rectified.
• Pupils were directed to read through the common spelling mistakes/misconceptions and amend their work accordingly. Some time could be spent discussing key misconceptions if necessary.
• The list of spelling mistakes was highlighted, and pupils informed that this would form the basis of a spelling test in the next lesson.
• Pupils asked to complete the Dirt activity once they had completed the work above. This was a differentiated activity with pupils choosing the activity based their own individual needs and self-reflection. Completing this during the lesson allowed me to provide one to one feedback to individuals. Alternatively, it could be given as homework or as a starter activity the following lesson.

Reflection – was it effective?
• It was quick and easy for pupils to identify if they were missing any work and to rectify this.
• Praise section reminded me to provide positive feedback (it is too easy to get bogged down in constructive criticism). It also allowed pupils to easily identify who they could approach for help or for catch up work.
• Completing the Dirt activity prompted pupils to apply their knowledge and ask questions, thus developing their understanding of the topic. This can then be marked, and pupils pushed to try a different task next time.
• All pupils had a task to complete which allowed me to have individual conversations with key pupils and provide one to one feedback where necessary.
• The crib sheet can be stored allowing me to inform my planning next time I teach this topic and it can be used to feed into pupil reports.
• By referring to the previous crib sheet I can aim to praise different pupils. I can identify if any mistakes have been carried forward into the next topic.
• Feedback is clear and evident for parents/pupils.

Word of warning:
• Whilst this provides feedback for the whole class it cannot replace individual conversations with targeted pupils. As and where necessary, more in depth, personalised comments can be added to pupil’s work. This should however be on a much smaller scale and be focussed on individual pupil needs.

The big question – did it save time?
Overall, yes.
Personally, I found that although initially it took time to get to grips with the crib sheet, I was able to provide much more effective whole class feedback in a much shorter time.
How could the sheet be improved/amended?
1) Addition of a target box in which pupils can reflect on their work (using the feedback given) and write their own targets. This can then be reviewed in the next round of marking.

Original inspiration – with thanks to Pete Sanderson and Greg Thornton!

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Feedback Target Codes

A technique I use to save time when marking books for younger pupils is to use “feedback target codes” instead of writing out the same comments multiple times per class.

How does it work?
• I mark a piece of work as normal and give a score if relevant, then add a positive comment.
• Instead of writing out something to improve on, I write the code T3 or T7 for example.
• Each code corresponds to a target from a list that is stuck into the inside of the pupils exercise books.
• The pupils copy out the target under the piece of work.

At the end of half term, or as you go along, the pupils can make a tally of how many of each target they get so you can see any areas for concern, rather than you having to record it separately. If you leave some space at the bottom of the list, you could add to it if a common theme occurs for a specific class.

Advantages?
• Time-saving and sanity-saving
• Pupils have to engage with their feedback by writing the target out.
• Easier to track pupils targets.

This can be adapted to your own style of feedback and subject area and can vary from presentation to knowledge or skill-based comments. See below for some examples:

feedback targets