7 Plenary Activities for PGCE Students and Newly Qualified Teachers

An article by Richard James Rogers (Author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management and The Power of Praise: Empowering Students Through Positive Feedback)

Illustrated by Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati

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Related article: 7 Starter Activities for PGCE Students and Newly Qualified Teachers

I loved competitions when I was a kid. Anything involving puzzles, quizzes or games really excited me. In truth: I loved being right and I hated being wrong!

School can be quite a competitive environment. Some of our students can really feel the pressure when it comes to scoring highly on tests, exams and extra-curricular tournaments and events. 

It’s a great time to be alive when you’re teenager; despite the problems faced. We have boundless energy, time on our hands and a variety of interests and hobbies at this age.

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“An EXCELLENT book! 5 stars!”

Channeling this energy in a healthy and competitive way should be one of the core aims of all plenaries. Reviewing the content and skills learnt in class in a fun, competitive and energetic way can really help with memory and concept retention. Do this consistently each and every lesson and watch your students make tremendous progress as the weeks and months roll by!

Let’s take a look at some great ways to end each lesson on high.

Plenary #1: A human graph

This is very simple to set up. Just ask the kids a series of questions and ask them to line up at the position that represents the answer. Hey presto – you’ve formed a human graph! It’s probably best to ask between 5 and 10 questions (forming 5-10 human graphs) in a real plenary and you might want to print and display the answers at different positions in the room. Its a lot of fun!

Human graph and true or false

Plenary #2: True or False Walls

As shown in the picture above: choose one wall to be the ‘true’ wall and one to be the ‘false’ wall. Ask the students a series of true or false questions and get them to walk to the corresponding wall. This works much better than simply getting kids to raise their hands as they’ll be moving around the room. I’ve done this countless times with my students and they never seem to get bored of it. Can be used as a nice break in the middle of a lesson too. 

Plenary #3: Vocabulary Musical Chairs

This game is amazing and will instantly bring energy and liveliness to your lesson. It’s basically the same as musical chairs, except you say a series of words instead of playing music. When the kids hear the correct answer they have to dash for a chair and sit! 

  • Make sure you have enough space
  • Make sure the kids can’t trip on anything
  • Don’t forget to remove a chair each time!
  • Watch out for fights! (Be really clear about behaviour expectations before the game begins)

Vocabulary musical chair

Plenary #4: Memory Mind Bender

I first learnt this game at 15 years old when I was an army cadet. My platoon commander was trying to get us to learn the working parts of an L98A1 Cadet GP rifle (Wow – it must have worked if I can remember that 20 years later!). 

Get you kids to sit or stand in a circle. One student starts with a phrase about the topic. The next student then repeats that phrase and one of their own. The chain continues and continues until all of the concepts have been verbalised in sequence. Don’t be afraid to start the chain again if a student forgets a phrase! See below. 

Memory Mind bender

Plenary #5: Human Numbers

This can be used in two main ways:

  • Answering calculations questions (make sure you get the kids to pair up or form groups for multiple digit answers!)
  • Selecting an option (e.g. “Number One: Brazil, Number two: Argentina, Number 3: Peru”)

Great for spatial learners and causes quite a few giggles!

Human numbers

Plenary #6: Snake or Break?

This is a nice and easy game to play. Get your kids to form a line in front of you. Ask questions. If the student at the front gets it wrong then they go back to the end of the line (join the ‘snake’). If the student gets it right then they can sit down (have a ‘break’). 

  • Watch out for kids who are sat down being disruptive or not paying attention. Keep them engaged by asking them the questions that other students get wrong. 

Snake or break

#Plenary #7: Infographic Creation

There’s a trend in the teaching profession in which students are asked to create ‘posters’ – many of which are never displayed on school walls. 

We can make this activity better by asking the kids to create an infographic either individually or in groups. An infographic is basically an organised information visual (superior to a poster). They can be created at https://piktochart.com/ Your kids will have to sign-up using their school e-mail address, but the process is very quick and they’ll never be asked for payment details. 

We can make this task meaningful by:

  • Actually displaying the best infographics in our classrooms
  • Printing the submitted infographics as booklets and handing them to our students as revision aids
  • Uploading them to our school’s VLE so that our kids can use them for revision or as source material for another task

Here’s an infographic I created at https://piktochart.com:


Recommended further reading

Click on the images to go to the Amazon product page. 

Attention-Grabbing Starters and Plenaries for Teachers by Rob Plevin

Just filled to the brim with practical advice and activities. Really useful!

Pleanary Rob Plevin

The Book of Plenary by Phil Beadle

Great meta-cognitive strategies for ending every lesson perfectly. After reading this book a whopping FOUR times (it’s hard to put down!), I can honestly recommend it very highly!

Book of Plenary



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Learning Journals: A Powerful Student Feedback System

An article by Richard James Rogers (Author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management).

Illustrated by Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati

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Updated: August 2021

I was 16 years old and had just gotten my GCSE results. The admissions tutor at Deeside College (now Coleg Cambria) was impressed with my grades and readily led me through the registration process. I had chosen to study ‘A’ – Levels (The British equivalent of the American SATs) in Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics.

Studying at an F.E. college had an extra advantage over studying at school: I could enroll on night classes in the early evening after regular classes had finished. I decided to take the Open College Network class ‘Introduction to Basic Counseling Skills’, as I knew even back then that I wanted to be a teacher and I knew that this class would give me valuable tools that I could use with my future students.

talk n walk

The counseling skills I learnt on the course were amazing. I still make use of the ‘detached objectivity’, ‘active listening’ and ’empowerment’ tools from that night class in my daily practice as a teacher. However, something even more powerful and useful than I could possibly imagine, like a diamond of knowledge, was passed on to me in the most unpredictable of ways. 

Out of all of the classes I did at Deeside College, this was the only course in which I had to fill out a ‘Reflection Journal’ every two weeks. My teacher would ask me to write down all of my thoughts and reflections on what was learnt in class into this big book that she gave me, and every two weeks she would write comments in there to inspire and encourage me. It really was very effective, and made the learning process exciting and productive.

Memory is the residue of thought

Daniel Willingham wrote those iconic words in his famous book: Why Don’t Students Like School?’. I am utterly convinced that the Reflection Journal I had to fill out for the night class caused me to think deeply about my learning, which left it’s residue in my mind in the form of memory: memory of skills and knowledge which I still use to this day!

That’s powerful. That’s life-changing.


The Thailand Experiment

Shortly after getting my PGCE and completing my NQT year in the U.K., I came to Thailand to work as a Chemistry Teacher at an international school in Bangkok. I was lucky enough to have been given a very able and hard-working class of Year 10 students to teach. In fact, the illustrator of this blog and my books: Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati, was in that class. 

I decided to try learning journals with these IGCSE Chemistry students. The idea was that they were to buy a special notebook (not their normal class book) and fill it with revision summaries, mind-maps, key words and anything learnt in class each week. I wanted it to be a ‘living journal’, and not just simply a replica of the students’ class notes. 

The students mainly took to it very well. Extracts from Pop’s beautiful learning journal are shown below:


16 MARCH21 MARCH.jpg


Highly-motivated students like Pop would always hand in beautiful notes, every single week. In fact, CfBT inspectors came to that school that year and they said that Pop’s notes were the best they had ever seen!

Wow! That’s quite a statement.

However, some students didn’t take to it that well and I found out why: I wasn’t giving feedback regularly enough. Some weeks I would be too busy with other school things, so I would sometimes (to my shame) collect in the journals and simply give them back the next day with some simple verbal feedback only.

I discovered that when students were given some written feedback on a weekly basis, however small, they was a marked improvement in the quality of the journals I received each week. 

Back then, when I realised this at 26 years of age, I would write multiple comments on every page in a student’s journal. This almost killed me when I had 20 journals to mark. I soon gave that up and came up with a better way.

Oh, but did the journals work? Well…that class went on to get 100% A*-C in their Chemistry IGCSEs.

Did the journals help them achieve this? I believe so.

My updated (better) journaling system

I’ve set up a Learning Journal system with my Year 11 IGCSE and Year 12 and 13 IBDP classes. Every Monday they must bring their journals to my room and place them in the right place, as shown below:

Learning Journal System

Then, after school every Monday I write one and only one post-it note of feedback for each student; which I stick in their journals. This keeps my feedback focused on the essentials and increases my productivity.

An example of what this feedback might look like is given in this reconstruction below:


Students pick up their journals (with post-it note feedback inside) every Tuesday, meaning that they are getting recurring, weekly feedback as well as regular, meaningful homework.

So far the system is working really well. The student-sign register system allows me to quickly see who hasn’t completed a journal and the fact that I force myself to get all of the post-it-notes filled in on Monday evening means that I can chase up late journals very quickly. 

The system allows me to give regular feedback to my students, and it seems to be showing in the progress they are making in tests and assessments.


  • Journaling is a powerful tool when used correctly
  • It can be applied to any subject area
  • It’s great for exam-level classes doing revision
  • Recurring feedback and meaningful homework come as part of the package
  • The students can be creative and present their journals in any way they choose (online is an option too)
  • The feedback process allows the teacher to get to know their students’ strengths and weaknesses very quickly
  • The Learning Journal is a permanent record that the students can treasure and be proud of
  • Journaling is not used enough in the teaching profession. I aim to change this. 

Teachers can have journals too!

In this short video I explain how deciding to keep a professional journal was a life-changing moment for me. I show you how to keep a simple daily journal that will immediately transform your teaching and effectiveness at school. 

Digitizing the process [Update for 2021]

With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, many schools have been forced to close due to lockdown restrictions. Not to worry, however – learning journals can be completed and assessed online very easily these days.

Google Sites, or blogs like WordPress/Blogger are an excellent way to digitize the system. Every student creates a site/blog. All the teacher needs are the URLs for all the sites (e.g. as a list on a Google Sheet).

The students update their sites each week. The teacher can either write weekly feedback on each website (this is easily done if it’s a Google Site that’s been ‘shared’ with the teacher), post a comment in a spreadsheet set up for each student each week, share verbal feedback through video conferencing, or even e-mail feedback to each student. If you’re using a VLE/LMS (e.g. Moodle, Firefly, Google Classroom, Class Dojo, etc.), then you can write a short comment on the assignment for each student within the system.

It is also possible to use Google Slides or Docs in place of website for each student. Please see this blog post on using Google apps in teaching for more information.

Recommended further reading/investigation:

Click on the image to take you to the Amazon purchase page.

Lakeshore Learning Materials: Lakeshore Draw and Write Journal


  • Perfect for children aged 5-7
  • Gets young learners used to the journaling process from a very early age
  • Large, clear format
  • A staple and an essential for all primary teachers (in my personal opinion)


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Peer or Self-Assessment? Benefits and Challenges

An article by Richard James Rogers (Author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management). Illustrated by Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati


Supplementary article to read (highly recommended): Effective Feedback – The Catalyst of Student Progress

There’s no doubt about it – getting students involved in their own assessment and marking has a wide-variety of benefits.

walking around wt laptop

Take this great summary by Rosario Hernandez at University College Dublin for example, which explains that peer-assessment benefits students in four key ways:

  • Promotes high quality learning
  • Contributes to skills development
  • Furthers personal development
  • Increases students’ confidence, reduces stress and improves student motivation

That’s quite a convincing list!

Peer assessment

Not surprisingly, similar things can be said of self-assessment. This great overview by the University of Sydney advocates for the wide-use of self-assessment with students for the following key reasons:

  • It encourages student involvement and participation, so it’s great for students who normally find group activities or active class tasks a little uncomfortable
  • When used in conjunction with group work it can be a great way to assess one’s personal role and contribution in the group experience and learning process


Academic appraisals aside, I’ve found from my personal experience that both self and peer-assessment are absolutely invaluable to the modern practitioner. They save you oodles of time as a teacher and students learn so much from each process.

But how should we use self and peer-assessment?

There are a number of different ways that self and peer-assessment can be used in the classroom. My experience has taught me (the hard way!) that the following tasks work really well:

  • Making corrections to tests and assessments: When any important test or assessment comes up, I don’t think it is appropriate to have students marking these themselves. They’ll get it wrong, even with a mark scheme to use, and will be overly generous on themselves and their peers (unless they’ve been trained for a period of time – more on that next). However, a great activity is to mark the tests yourself, then give the tests back to the students along with the a printed or online mark scheme. The students could then use a coloured pen to make full and detailed corrections to their test papers. You could turn this into an AfL exercise, with students writing down the question numbers they got wrong on the whiteboard, or on an anonymous piece of paper. You could then go through these questions afterwards to clear up common misconceptions. If you run a regular learning journals system (as I currently do), then students could write down the questions and the model answers in their learning journals. This causes very deep-learning to take place and is great for building long-term memory!
  • Assessing homework, classwork and regular assignments: A great time-saver for teachers. Just make sure the kids have access to the model answers. Don’t forget to collect the work in too – you need to know that the kids actually did the work you asked them to do.
  • Past-papers: Exam-level students really need to become familiar with the official mark schemes provided by exam boards. They need to become comfortable with key vocabulary, language and command terms. Provide exam-level students with regular past-papers to do as homework. Provide mark schemes too, so that they can self and peer-assess their work in class later. For older students (e.g. ‘AS’ – Level, SAT and IBDP learners) I’ll sometimes give them past papers and mark schemes to take home. Their task is to complete the past-papers under timed conditions and mark them using the mark schemes. The student then hands me the papers completed and marked (this is essential – I need to know that they have completed the assignment). I then check the papers for common misconceptions and target those in class. 
  • Technological means: There a number of ways in which technology can assist in the peer and self-assessment process. Google forms are great; as are online quizzes provided by trusted third parties (e.g. BBC Bitesize and MyiMaths) and online quizzes that teachers can build by themselves (e.g. Quizlets). Make use of these and others (e.g. Kahoot – great for getting kids to use their mobile devices), as they are really interactive and can offer a nice break from traditional methods. 

Art class

Training students to assess themselves


This is a gradual process and basically involves exposing students to exam-style questions and past-papers; along with their mark schemes, over a prolonged period of time. The process is straightforward but can be monotonous: provide past-papers as homework, classwork, projects and even through a special past-paper ECA club (which I’m currently doing with my IGCSE and IBDP students – it’s very effective). 

There are a number of creative ways to train students up in proper exam-technique:

  • Cut up the questions and answers to past-papers and hand them to students one-at-a-time. They can only come and get the next question when they’ve effectively answered and marked the previous one.
  • Give students the answers to questions and get them to write the questions! Use the same method as the previous bullet-point above, or set up a large display and get students to put their answers on post-it notes which they can stick to the display.
  • Get a big container filled with cut-up exam questions. Students have to pick out questions from the container in pairs or threes, and work on them. No two groups should have the same question. 
  • Students can make revision videos, websites and even stop-motion animations that contain exam-style questions and answers. Get students to record the process through a learning journal system. 

sitting on the carpet

Challenges when using self and peer-assessment

There are a few challenges, but these are greatly outweighed by the the benefits. I’ll offer some notes from my own personal experience and some solutions.

  1. Some students won’t want to swap during peer-assessment. This can be an issue in some classes. Some students can find themselves isolated and excluded by social groups, and may not be able to find someone to wants to swap their work with them. Whilst this kind of social exclusion is totally unacceptable, and must be dealt with through the appropriate school channels, there is a way to mitigate it in the first instance: collect in every piece of work and hand them out again randomly to different students. That way, they should all have someone else’s work to mark. 
  2. Different ability levels: There will be some students in the class who have such a limited knowledge of the subject that they won’t be able to effectively mark the work in front of them, even if they have access to the mark scheme. You could offer a ‘clinic-style’ system, where you sit at a special desk in the room and offer ‘consultation’: where students walk to see you to clear up misconceptions if they don’t understand the work or the mark scheme. You can also walk around the classroom and sit with individuals to have one-to-one discussions.
  3. Students being too generous: This is a common problem, especially for exam-level students who are new to past-papers and the peer/self-assessment process. At first, you might want to project the answers on the whiteboard and go through each question one at a time, but you’ll find that this takes ages (unless it’s an MCQ test) as students will have lots of questions to ask along the way, and you’ll have to answer verbally to the whole audience (which isn’t ideal in every case). Even better – you could collect in the assignments afterwards and double-check them. Speak to students who have lost marks after you’ve double-checked the papers and really make sure they understand the mark scheme and where they went wrong.
  4. Poor handwriting: This can be an issue for some students. It’s really important that examiners can actually read a student’s work. Students with poor handwriting need to be identified quickly and intervention measures put in place (e.g. special classes). You don’t want anyone to lose marks just because the examiner couldn’t read what the student wrote!

card games


The benefits of peer and self-assessment are numerous and incontrovertible. However, students must have access to official mark schemes and model answers for the process to work properly, and they must be involved in actually correcting their work (not just ‘ticking’ and ‘crossing’ and working out a score/percentage).

Students need to be trained in proper peer-assessment. Do not tolerate over-generosity: collect the work in afterwards and double-check that it was marked properly. 

Watch out for common misconceptions – these crop up a lot in a peer-assessment. See this as a good thing: you can use this information to inform your teaching. 

Use a wide-variety of technological means in the peer and self-assessment process. This will keep students on task and provide exposure to vital Information and Communication Technology: building skills that will be essential in the future.

Be on the lookout for students who refuse to swap their work (or accept another student’s work to mark) and address this issue promptly. No student should feel excluded by a peer group at school – this is tantamount to bullying and must be addressed appropriately.

Be aware that some students will not have the ability to peer and self-assess effectively, even when they have access to the model answers. Provide one-to-one assistance in these cases, either by walking around the room and helping out or having students walk to you for help. 

Recommended further reading

Click on the images to go to the Amazon page for the book. 

  • Peer Feedback in the Classroom by  Starr Sackstein. Great for gaining a deep understanding of what meaningful feedback looks like. Highly recommended!

peer feedback in classroom sackstein

  • The Perfect Assessment System by Rick Stiggins. Great for all educators and those involved in education management. Really puts assessment into a whole-school context and is a great read for anyone who wants to up their game and empower their students through effective feedback. 

Perfect assessment system.jpg



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Marking Week 2: What Should Teachers Actually Mark?


An article by Richard James Rogers (Author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management)
Illustrated by Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati

This article follows on from last week’s popularMarking: Why, What and How? blog post: A highly recommended read!

Week 2: What and How?

The long, dark journey of my PGCE was long over. Gone were the constant lesson observations, full-page lesson plans and intense work-scrutiny from my university tutors and in-school mentors. Now I had autonomy. Now I was trusted.

With the onset of my first year as a qualified teacher came the intense sense of duty that one acquires when realizing that this is your chance to ‘sink or swim’.

And swim I did: as hard as I could with the tools I had at the time. But it wasn’t enough.

At about this time of the year in 2006 I was entering my February half-term holiday with an absolute ton of marking to complete. I took inventory of my week’s stock of coffee-inducing baggage and found that it contained:

  • Classwork
  • Homework
  • Tests
  • Online work
  • Journals (which I’d just started after receiving the idea from a friend)
  • Classwork/homework in the form of loose bits of paper and worksheets
  • Coursework for GCSE Science
  • The data entry that would come with recording all of this stuff

with-ukedchatIt was quite a sight to see and I remember Friday drinks with my colleagues that week in which I brought a huge sports bag into the pub. “What’s in the bag, Richard” some said; to which I replied “Marking”. The place erupted with laughter as my friends saw the gritty and not-so-pleased look on my face!

I’m sure they sympathized with me deep-down inside as they were merrily propping-up the bar.

Get a Marking Timetable in Place!

Back then I didn’t have a marking schedule in place and that was a bad idea! Work would just come to me as and when I set the deadlines and I would let it accumulate until I had some semblance of free time in which I would mark, say; four notebooks!

It just wasn’t sustainable.

Nowadays, I follow a very strict marking timetable so that I spread out my marking evenly across a recurring two-week period. I’m happy because I’m getting things done, my students are happy because they are receiving acknowledgement and feedback and parents are happy because they can see measurable steps of improvement due to the way that I mark (more on that later).

walking around wt laptop

I know, for example, that on Tuesday Week 2 I am marking Year 10 IGCSE books. I see them that day so I can easily collect their books. I also know that I’m marking Year 13 IB Diploma books on Friday Week 1; so I’d best get those done on Friday otherwise I’ll have two loads to do the following Monday.

Get a marking timetable in place if you don’t already have one. It’s a self-discipline tool that will set you apart as an organized teacher who actually cares about the everyday work that your students do.


Some types of marking must take priority over others. 

Take Year 11 GCSE coursework, for example. Now if you had a choice between marking that on-time or marking Year 7 notebooks, then you’re definitely going to go for the coursework. It’s a greater priority.

As teachers we are messing up our schedules and creating added stress because we do not ruthlessly prioritize enough. It’s absolutely essential.

All marking is important: every student must receive feedback and acknowledgement for their efforts. However, you may have to give your exam-preparation classes more detailed feedback than your younger classes at certain points in the year. You may also have to give it back in a more swift and timely manner too (e.g. when you’ve just finished the mock exams, or when you’ve had an end-of-unit test). 

High five

Learn to prioritize. I’ve known some teachers in their first year who were desperately trying to cover every single scrap of work with ‘two stars and wish’, ‘targets’ and literacy/numeracy feedback. This level of dedication is admirable, but it does not accurately reflect the differing needs of different classes. It may also cause long-term health problems for the teacher!

The Students Should be Doing More Work Than The Teachers!

Lazy teachers are the best teachers because they get the students to do all of the work

These words spoken to me in 2008 by a former colleague got me wondering about my workload as a teacher. Was I spoon-feeding my students too much? Was I giving them too much guidance without giving them the chance to think for themselves?

After a difficult self-appraisal, I took a rough-guess that I was somewhere in the middle.

It was at this point that I started to write questions on students’ work. “What is this part called” on a diagram, for example, or simply a “?” next to something that wasn’t clear. 

Mai's wprk
Have you spotted the question I wrote in this IBDP Biology homework? 

Make sure to check that students have actually improved their work! You can set ‘work-improvement’ as a short homework or classwork task. 

Use Marking as a Means of Encouragement and Motivation! 

We all love positive feedback: especially when it’s sincere.

Make your feedback useful and sincere by writing (or saying) “Well done for….” from time to time. It will help the student to store the concept in their long-term memory and will prop-up their confidence so that they enjoy your subject more and more in the future.

Be aware that this must be constantly reinforced. Once or twice won’t be enough – we should be praising the positive attributes of our students’ work on a regular basis for maximum effect. 


 You should definitely use your school’s reward system for this. If your school doesn’t have one, then create one (stickers, class points, the chance to win chocolate at the end of the month, etc.)



Placing students’ work on display is an excellent way to take the motivation and inspiration element a step-further.

In my current school we have a weekly ‘Science Stars’ noticeboard where every teacher pins up an excellent piece of work for that week. Students regularly stop by to see their friends’ work, and it offers a great sense of achievement for those students who have been selected to be ‘Stars’.

Showcasing provides a benchmark for other students to aspire too. It shows examples of work considered to be detailed, presentable and accurate, and should aim to teach about the importance of effort in achieving the desired outcome. 

Showcasing doesn’t have to be done on a weekly noticeboard. It can be done electronically on a VLE or school website or blog, and can even be as simple a task as standing in the middle of the class and showing the students an excellent notebook. 

Showcasing also adds an extra level of effectiveness that day-to-day marking doesn’t always reach – it shows that the teacher is noticing things! It makes it really clear what stands out and what does not, and raises the bar for all students to aspire too (when done regularly). 

Recurring Work (Very Powerful)

I use journals a lot in my teaching. It’s a shame they are not used more in the profession as a whole (I write about the amazing effectiveness of student journaling in an earlier blog post here)

Every Monday my Year 11, 12 and 13 Chemists bring me a journal filled with:

  • Revision notes
  • Answers to exam style questions and test corrections done in class
  • Mind maps and memory joggers, such as acronyms and mnemonics
  • A summary of what they’ve learnt that week

Journals used in this way are designed to instill self-discipline in students as they require one to regularly review work done in class. They are also a very excellent way for me to see and address weaknesses quickly, and I can provide feedback on a weekly basis, which helps a lot with focus and improvement.

The students bring their journals to class on Monday and sign their names on the big sheet on the wall. I then read through every book and write one sticky note of feedback in each (this keeps my feedback focused on the essentials, reduces my marking time and ensures that students get a rapid response).

Every Tuesday my students collect their journals from my room, read my feedback and hand them in again the following Monday. 

The kind of regular, recurring feedback is great for me and my students. Common misconceptions become clear very quickly (allowing me to address those issues) and my students feel that their teacher cares deeply about their learning (which he does). 


I’ve found that consistency is key; no matter what methods of marking I use. My students need to know that I care about the work they produce. Often, this sense of ‘someone actually gives two hoots about the work I do’ is the major factor in a student’s success at school.

I think John Hattie summarizes the importance of feedback as a tool for improving performance much better than I can: 

The aim is to get the students actively involved in seeking this evidence: their role is not simply to do tasks as decided by teachers, but to actively manage and understand their learning gains. This includes evaluating their own progress, being more responsible for their learning, and being involved with peers in learning together about gains in learning. If students are to become active evaluators of their own progress, teachers must provide the students with appropriate feedback so that they can engage in this task.

Recommended books for further reading (click on the book images to go to their Amazon pages):

Visible Learning for Teachers by John Hattie. Includes excellent strategies for using feedback to dramatically enhance learning.


Formative Assessment by Margaret Heritage. Great for new and experienced teachers alike as it really shows how assessment can be used inform teaching in a practical and easy-to-understand way. 



NEXT WEEK: Peer-assessment vs. Self-assessment – The Best Methods to Use


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