As vexatious as the O-word might be, I have yet to meet a teacher who disagrees with the notion that they (and their class) should be judged on progress over a period of time. This is one thing that they have got right.

1) The term ‘progress’ has loaded meaning. It is not enough for pupils to achieve FFT targets. It is not enough for students to achieve the highest results in a town. Progress needs to be ‘rapid and sustained’. And, more so than that, it need to be ‘proved’. Moreso, that proof needs to be recorded, too.

These are all points that I believe my markbook addresses, or at least attempts to.

2) There exists, always, the tension between ‘getting through’ the curriculum, and students developing a sufficient level of knowledge as they do so.

I would always urge on the side of developing a sufficient level of knowledge. For me, homework is an essential aspects of deepening knowledge (especially when there are time constraints).

3) Progress should be checked throughout the lesson. Generic techniques are:

– fist of five, usually using abstract noun phrases (e.g. 1 is I have never heard of that words; 3 is I have heard of the word but can’t explain it; 5 is I can explain the word).

– hinge questions (involving whiteboard).

– rubrics (assessing type of criteria, rather than amount).

– applying keywords (seeing whether they have been assimilated into general text).

– generic pyramid plenary

4) Medium Term Plans need to be tight. There is a tension between skills and content in English teaching. I have already said on more than one occasion that planning is best, I think, when it is criteria based (rather than content based). Therefore, rather than having sequenced work (as indicated below), responding to previous work with a bank of tasks (and creating the appropriate rubric is most useful).

A MTP needs, for me,

– keywords  and keyterms (along with connotations. Also useful are links to keywords from other languages, and perhaps a link to a wider connotation-based document.

– standardised work. For each example of work, a standardised example of what that work might look like is extremely useful. I have been using a wired Kodak camera for a time, but have found myself less inclined to make time to take pictures of work where I should. Perhaps a wireless camera would help with this.

– links between tasks in the bank.

– example rubrics, perhaps linked to the standardised work from before.

5) Training needs to be given to the students if they are going to respond rigorously to their targets. The following questions should be asked by a teacher:

– How much time is needed to actually respond to a target in a lesson? 5 minutes? 25 minutes? Start in lesson for 5-10 minutes and and finish for homework?

– How much training is needed for a student to competently respond to their targets? I think that, especially without standardised pictures to support modelling, months at least.

– How much support is needed for students to respond to targets, especially those with EAL and SEN?  Without a personalised interview, and/or directed TA support, this is particularly difficult. Those who are disaffected will also make smaller steps in progression. However, specific and sincere praise for genuine efforts makes a difference for almost any student you will ever teach.

– Ultimately, a collection of standardised work is needed in picture form to provide suitable training in students accessing the criteria focussed upon in rubrics.

6) To what extent should the rubrics reflect a summative level? 
I think that some rubrics can reflect a summative level. Making this more explicit would, at times, be useful. However, I want to separate the idea of the formative work (and the criteria contained within) and summative levelling. If I do refer to levels, such levelling needs to be true levelling, and not involve sub-levels.

7) How should example PDFs or PowerPoints be saved, stored and shared? For speed, I think sharing on an intranet is ideal. A .pdf reader is somewhat useful, as is a PowerPoint to be edited. However, a general programme that allows post-it notes (or similar) would also be useful – especially if students had access to laptops or similar.

8) The key question not often asked (let alone answered) is how should we respond to students who have not accessed particular criteria? Terms suggested are often:

– “spend more time on…”
– “speak to them…”
– “have to keep trying…”
– “extra lessons…”

9) Avoid referring to the unadulterated level descriptors in generic terms for specific tasks. Such criteria is purposefully vague, and without standardised exemplars, not so useful for students. Aim for a goal that refers to specific criteria. In lieu of specific criteria, exam-board criteria is useful. But, specific rubrics personalised from the level descriptors are:

– Easier to read.
– More specific to the student.
– Easier to model effectively.
– Rigorous.
– Useful.

10) Regular time MUST be given in a lesson to reflecting on the work to be completed. However, there is very little, if any, examples of that built into lesson plans and schemes of work. Plenaries and mini-plenaries are the inherent way to do this. But extended dialogues can only occur between the teacher and the students if time is explicitly planned…