This isn’t an ordinary markbook. All the markbooks that I have downloaded from the TES, or teachit.co.uk, or any of the conventional resource websites are essentially digital versions of the paper version. And if something can be completed on paper with a pen, then that is best used.
That is, unless the use of ICT enhances, or even transforms, its use.
The profound change in this markbook is its reliance on regular rubrics. Without expert rubrics specifically tailored to that class, it is perhaps worse than its paper and pen counterpart.
Below I show you an example in the autumn term 2012 of how my markbook allowed me to identify whether my planning was effective, or not, and how my rubrics enabled me to do so.
Although my marbook only began in the latter half of the autumn term, you can see its main functionality in the picture above. It rates the formative work of the students according to the rubric from 1 to 4, and rates the success of the class in completing that piece of work. It requires another picture to make more sense of it, though.
You can see here, via a comment box picture background, a rubric that was tailored to a class focussed upon revising (or, it seemed, devising!) the use of subordinate clauses to add more information to a main clause. Coming after relatively extensive work, it sought to see if adding a phrase to a sentence (something distinguished as different to a subordinate clause/main clause with a subordinating conjunction) overloaded these students. While many students were able to use an adjectival phrase (indicated by ‘2’ in the 30th November 2012 column), three students were unable to do this (indicated by a ‘3’). Surprisingly, for me, previous security in using conjunctions was not retained. And even the most able students were unable to maintain a phrase with an additionally accurate subordinate clause (at least in terms I phrased it).
Therefore, the next piece of work aimed to revise the similar facet of adding a subordinate clause and a phrase by differentiating between ‘connectives’ (because; although) and ‘words that allow a phrase’ (that; who). In this piece of work, some students improved, while some were unable to maintain even the standards of last week. You can see this in the homework headed ’10 sentences’.
Therefore, the progress is proved in more students (who handed it in on time!) attaining higher standards, with some completing this impressive level 5 feat. Those who didn’t have targets with which to improve.
Looking at the three last pieces of work, you can see them rated at 2.45, 2.55 and 2.17 respectively. As these three pieces of work linked explicitly, you can see how the reiteration of the second piece of work in the series produced ‘worse’ marks (indicated by a red down arrow for the overall class rating), but these were then proceeded by the best marks of the series so far (indicated by a horizontal arrow). The act of including phrases and accurate clauses is by no means mastered by this class. However, they have greater skill and awareness in what they need to do. There is an almost palpable excitement to build upon in our next module.
But isn’t conventional levelling good enough for my marking?
In the meantime, the conventional system of levelling meant that many students achieved a solid ‘level 4c’. That means, they were able to produce paragraphs and legible sentences with some skilled vocabulary and variation, but without any kind of consistency. This is, of course, a fraction of the story for these students (as indicated above). As you can see below, the student ranked 11 achieved a 4C while utterly struggling any kind of additional sophistication: perhaps the entirety of their cognitive capacity was spent on merely producing something nearing a coherency. The student ranked third, though, was able to produce varied and linked sentences with impressive consistency, but struggled with harnessing all this under pressure. Their ‘4c’, though, was a world-apart from the ‘4c’ of their classmate. Judiciously, though, they were equally far from the writing skills of the top-ranked student in the class who achieved a 4b with nearly perfect (1.20) work.
It should be reiterated at this point that the closer a student is to 1, the better their work is.
The average rating of the class this term was 2.26, which meant the work was pitched to a reasonably stretching standard. However, I would have hoped for more students to have dipped under 2 (as only 3 students did in this class). Still, this is down to the nature of my rubrics, which can be made as challenging or as simple as I wish them to be.
Hopefully, you can see some of the potential in this markbook from the above screenshots. I will write a little more about rubrics, and perhaps used the example of specific planning for my classes in the two weeks or so in the near year to show you how the markbook might be used.