Feedback (not marking!)
Following #MathsConf10, I promised myself that I would stop ‘marking books’ and start giving real feedback to my students. I had attended @Jemmaths’ workshop on developing a feedback (not marking) policy. I returned to school excited, knowing that I could bring this high-impact development to my new school the following September.
Five months later, and (finally!) we’re using exit tickets to give timely and personalised feedback to our students. There are still some restraints on what these exit tickets must look like, but after only a week of using them, I’m overjoyed at how efficient yet effective they seem to be.
We must have a common template across the department, and seeing as we use A4 exercise books split into two columns, half of A4 cut lengthways is the best shape for us. We have to have one AO1 question, one AO2 question and one AO3 question per exit ticket. These are easy enough to obtain from ExamPro or Exam Wizard. I really stand by this as I agree that it is important for students to see a variety of exam questions throughout their lessons and this is a great way to get those in. I’m yet to make a decision yet on whether or not this is best for KS3 classes, however. At the bottom of the exit ticket there must be a space for a strength and target; this is part of the whole school feedback policy. The exit tickets must be ticked and crossed by us in green pen, and students must annotate them afterwards in purple pen.
Now this seems like a lot of constraints, but we really have come a long way in the last few weeks. Ultimately, students are receiving timely and effective feedback and it’s a lot less work for teachers than the old ineffective ‘marking policy’.
I’ve tried exit tickets now with all of my classes and am ironing out kinks as I go. I already feel that students receive more high-impact feedback this way than before, and it’s taken me a total of 15 minutes per class set of exit tickets to create, print and mark, compared to the two hours it took me previously to mark a class set of books.
Rather than writing two sentences (one strength and one target) for every student, I’ve started to use symbols. This is something that I’ve seen being used well in other schools for years so was confident that it would not take anything away from writing them ourselves. If anything, students are engaging more because they’re having to engage with and copy the sentences, whereas before, many would not have bothered to read them.
At the moment, I’m giving exit tickets to classes based on current topics. Following conversations on Twitter though, I’m looking forward to mixing this up in the future, and looking at different topics too. I’m finding that the feedback to the class is easy too; students actually WANT to know what mistakes they and their peers have made. They’re keen to makes corrections and to share what went well and to justify their working.
I’m so pleased that I spend less time marking and more time planning lessons to help move students on instead. It’s a method of feedback that I can definitely recommend.
Want to read more?
Examples of exit tickets from the World Wide Web: