Effective Marking For Progress (without it taking forever)

ImageMarking For Growth Mindset

I have recently spent quite a bit of time considering the language I use in my marking. I don’ want my comments to reinforce a fixed mindset. I want to help develop growth mindsets. So I focus on hard work and effort in relation to success. See my blog on marginal change for maximal gain.

Highlighters for Marking 

On a written piece of work I highlight in green those parts that are strong and correct and I annotate the parts I have highlighted. Where there are mistakes or weaknesses in the student’s work I highlight in pink and annotate. The students then read the annotations and set themselves success criteria for their next piece of written work. This is great for developing strength and structure in exam answers.

Once students understand the highlighting I may highlight their next piece of work but not annotate it. When the work is returned the students then annotate my highlighting to develop their understanding of their own piece of work, or they can do it on their partners work.

Finally for this form of marking students can swop books after completing a piece of work and highlight each others and then annotate. As the teacher my task is simply to check the marking and indicate that I have done so, stickers are always a winner, especially smelly stickers….yes even with year 11!

Marking Practice Exam Answers

I try to get the students to attempt a particular exam question before teaching them how to answer it, this provides their baseline starting point. Next I take a lesson to teach students how to structure that type of exam answer. Once they have grasped how to structure an answer, perhaps producing a revision video or poster on it, they are then given a marking format and they mark their baseline answer and indicate how it needs to be developed and which parts of it were mark worthy. Once again I then simply need to corroborate their marking and indicate I have read it. Finally the students repeat the initial question with their new understanding and then take it in turns to mark each others work. Reinforcing structure and subject content at each step.


Often in RE at KS3 & 4 I often require my students to offer point, evidence and explanation. This is certainly pushing level 5 upwards at KS3 and appropriate in question d) on the OCR exam spec. When the students hand in this type of work I simply place a P for point, E for evidence or example and Ex for explanation as they appear in their writing. Students then need to read my annotation and write down where they have missed an element out. If they are able to they can then add the missing element under their work, clearly improving what they had already done. If a student cannot add the missing element they can use 3 B4 me to gain some help developing their work.

Paper Chain Marking

At the start of a new topic students may be asked to work in groups and write what they know on paper chain slips and create a chain of information. Students then are given text books/mobile phones/ipads to check the knowledge they have on each link. Any knowledge they cannot confirm in class they could check for homework, or as a class we may try to confirm their knowledge (or correct it). Next they have a set amount of time to add further links of knowledge on a narrower element of the new topic. Text books etc can now be used to gain knowledge but a different colour of paper chain should be given to them so that prior knowledge and new knowledge are visible. The teacher can then carry out a quiz style plenery to check knowledge and the accuracy of the latterly acquired information. At the end of the lesson progress will have been made, knowledge will be checked but there will be no marking to take home!


About Learning to Teach Lorraine Abbott

Deputy Headteacher in a Surrey School Author for Hodder Education
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