Making the Explicit Even More Explicit.

As I do every September, I’ve promised myself I’m going to work differently this year. I’m going to stay on top of marking, especially  marking books. I’m not going to lie – I hate it. I rarely see any benefit in it, especially when students don’t seem to pay much – if any – attention to the comments and targets.

In an effort to try to get students to take more responsibility for their learning, and to perhaps reduce my workload a little, I’m making a few changes to how work is marked and how the necessary things are flagged up.

I’m starting with targets. I’ve always made an effort to highlight targets so that they are more noticeable on the page. This year I’m taking it a step further and using these fantastic target bookmarks from MissRoskell. They cover a range of curriculum areas, but I’m using the first two – ‘My target is’ and ‘My literacy target is’. They’re slightly bigger than the margin on the page, but I’m sticking them in so that they are sticking out a little at the top, so that students can easily identify pages where there targets are. The ‘My targets are’ bookmarks are for general things – copying correctly from the board, staying in their seat – anything that is potentially having an impact on their learning. The literacy targets are more closely linked to the new assessment framework that we’re using.


I’m utilising the inside front cover of their books a lot more as well. One of the things I use, primarily for self-assessment, is ADVICE. It came from a former colleague some years ago; she made it up because the front covers of GCSE English exams used to say ‘Remember the advice your teacher has given you.’ When we use it for self-assessment, students use five different coloured pencils to shade over examples of the aspects of ADVICE. When a colour is missing or very limited, that’s their target for improvement.


I’ve periodically had students copy this into their books, but again, it gets a little lost in amongst the rest of the work. It’s also on display in my classroom, but having a copy in the front of their books will hopefully be a longer term reminder.

The other thing I’ve thrown in there is a quick reminder or WWW, EBI and purple pen. When students are completing work in class, I mark the first ten or so lines quite heavily. I then put a comment at the end, with what went well (WWW) and even better if (EBI). I then give them specific aspects to improve in purple pen, so that they can see the difference between the original and improved when they go back over their work. The reminder is there as much for parents and anybody reviewing my books as it is for the students, which is something I dislike but a quick solution to an on-going problem.


Finally, I’m going to be putting a marking symbols reminder on the bottom half of the front cover as well. I’ve created the individual symbol posters using Phoster, which you can read more about here. I’ve then uses Moldiv to put them into a grid, which I’ll print off and put in their books.

Processed with Moldiv

Nothing I’m doing here is rocket science, and I’m sure plenty of teachers have been doing similar things for years. For me, whilst I’ve always included the above ideas when I’ve marked and had students working before, I’m trying to make things even more explicit than they already were. Here’s hoping it works!


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