Sunday, 14 December 2014

A pupil's 12 days of Christmas and Using WWW and EBI for feedback

On the twelve day of Christmas my teacher gave to me:
12 festive word searches 
11 colouring pages
10 crafts with glitter
9  paper chains
8 things to tidy
7 pencils to sharpen
6 lines to learn 
5 chocolate coins
4 letters home
3 last rehearsals
2 weeks off 
And a lobster role in the Nativity

That was just a distraction! You could challenge your pupils to write a version, which I am sure will be better than my quick outpouring. I was going to write one about target setting but thought better of it!

As usual in teaching there are really mixed messages at the moment when it comes to written marking. Some are saying that marking in books is currently very important to Ofsted.  Others that concise and useful marking is better than evidencing everything. Some of the teachers at my school have taken to sticking in success criteria strips in children's books when the lesson outcome was not written, for example when pupils have produced drama pieces etc. In the old days it was enough to expect planning to evidence non written work. And yes we do still have full planning; and in some subject areas we now have more written planning than ever before at our school!

I have been using What Worked Well (WWW) and Even Better If (EBI) stampers for both the written feedback that I give pupils; and also for when they peer and self assess each other's work. Last time I blogged about adding 'so that' to the EBI targets which was working well with my year 4 pupils. This week I have been thinking about the wording of my WWWs and EBIs. 

As a PPA teacher I see a range of other teachers' written feedback. I frequently come across written feedback that serves only to describe what the pupils have or have not done. And as I have said in previous blogs, it makes me ask the question 'who are these comments aimed at??'

The next time I am in the classroom writing feedback in books during class, I am going to challenge myself to write comments that serve to question my pupils. It is tricker to hint at answers rather than spell out precisely what we think a pupil's next steps should be.  Make them do the work instead of us- easier said than done.

I am also going to continue experimenting with my 'verbal feedback given' stamper; I have started to ask children to write my verbal instructions in their own succinct words next to my stamp during the lesson. The challenge is for them to do so swiftly. Perhaps they might even write if my intervention helped. I am always thinking whether my actions will help them; and if it will be an efficient use of their learning time?

My final point about this is that I have begun to hear about a different approach to producing written feedback targets. The idea is this: when you find that several pupils have the same EBI target, you write a symbol or coloured dot/sticker. The next lesson you put these symbols/colour codes on the board with the targets written next to them.  Now this is the IMPORTANT part, the PUPILS copy their target down into their book- which should improve ownership and hopefully uptake. 

Here are my own tweaks that I am going to test out:
1. They/a peer could comment at the end of the lesson/week how well they have progressed towards their EBI.

2. After teacher has looked through books and chosen several reoccurring EBI targets; couldn't pupils select their own best fit target from the board the following lesson?

Now I wish you a happy final week at school and a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


  1. I was told on a course that 'Verbal feedback' is the most effective form of feedback because children respond instantly, it's a good point but Ofsted need to 'see' examples of good marking. It's important that we don't mark just for The Sted, children need to be able to read feedback and understand what to do next.

  2. A succinct and holistic point well made- thank you Mark! I agree with you.


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