Every Sunday sees me, and many other teachers, do the most extensive planning for the week ahead. Some principles for this:

1) You need to have something else in the day.
If you do nothing but plan, your entire day can be eaten up. Planning should, where possible, be a sovereign thing designed to give you more space for the week ahead, and to focus yourself on what needs to be done.

2) Marking and planning need to be completed together.
Especially with work that needs to respond to the learner (or particularly with learners who struggle to self-assess), the classwork needs follow reactive to their (perceived) needs.

3) Make your markbook useful.
I have worked with a cloud-computing markbook. However, I am finding my internet connection too slow and erratic to make this a useful thing at the moment; 10 minutes spent on Sunday watching a screen load is 10 minutes too long. That time sucks the energy from me. Instead I work with documents that I encrypt on an industrial pen drive attached to my keys.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to have your USB stick strong enough to attach to your keys.

4) Utilise rubrics.
I have recently developed a markbook that allows me to easily record summative assessments on a weekly/fortnightly basis. It is inefficient with classes of 30+ (or even 20+) to assess on a fortnightly basis with constant targets. However, students need to know how to improve. Therefore, I have experimented with rubrics based on Bloom’s taxonomy. These aren’t simply “do more work for a higher level”, but rather the ability to access higher-level thinking through differentiated expectations, and varied ways of extending the same tasks.

I have previously used such rubrics with homework. With sets adept at completing homework, this is a useful thing.

5) Have your classes number their books/folders.
When recording grades and achievements, I think that much time is saved by having the books opened already to the page of work, and by having the books in the same order as your markbook.

6) Self-assessment.
I think that for the self-assessment of the students, so that they know what they need to do to complete the work, students will refer to rubrics when self-marking homework. Their target should be implicit from what they have. My marking should confirm this target, or select otherwise: something that is rapid and useful.

7) Useful for me.
While a full markbook is useful for SMT to see that I am doing my job to a degree that satisfies all, a markbook should primarily satisfy my needs. If my needs are out of sync with that of the SMT, those needs need (!) to be re-evaluated.

So, what now?

I think that I am going to get three of my classes to number their homeworks according to their administrative number (i.e. the order in my markbook) and then hand their homeworks to me in the order in which they were completed. I will retroactively look at my rubrics (from my planning) and input this in my markbook. My markbook utilises the background of a comment box to show exactly what the number/grade of the cell refers to. My planning stage should involve creating the new rubric.

To do this, you need to insert a comment/format/fill effects/picture then find the separate size tab when you’ve clicked ok to lock the aspect ratio.

Also, my Year 11s will not have this in the markbook, as they have their own personalised timed essay sheets that are extensive enough (!)

I hope that this style of planning is sustainable and useful. The students will always have a plenary that will say: “my target is…” or similar. The next step, of course, is to give them a chance to improve their target (usually by planning in the next lesson the ability to improve it.) The improvement is key.

I think, too, that addressing targets in the next lesson is not always possible.