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Marking Work

Marking is part of your daily supply responsibility. But what's the best way? Hannah gives her tips. 

Here are some little tips for marking as a short-term primary supply teacher to help you out in your first few days. These do depend on your main priorities, you may prefer to get a drink before you sit down to marking, whereas I will mark all through my lunchbreak to leave earlier, each to their own!

1. When children have finished their work, I insist that they do not close their books. They must pile them up open on the page where they were working. Otherwise, it takes far too long to open each book, which is completely unfamiliar to me, to find the right page. I will even keep children back from break time to find the page again if they’ve closed the book.

2. I mark as I go, their ongoing progress is of no interest to me if I’m only there for the day. As a general rule, for Numeracy I tick (correct) or dot (incorrect) each question in one book of the child I’m working next to as they’re going along, and use theirs as a guide to mark the others. If the work is differentiated, I do this for each set so that I have an answer guide and don’t need to dig the questions out and work them out again in my own time.

3. Literacy, Science and Topic marking is a lot more school specific, I flip back the page to see how much depth they usually go into. For Literacy, mark well, but only as much as you need to. If unclear what to do, I correct up to three errors (spelling and punctuation) for independent writing, and treat it like Numeracy if it is sentence-level work.

4. If it’s on a group poster, or paired A3 sheet, rejoice! There will be fewer of them and you generally don’t need to mark or correct this work fully. Check if you can, but generally a generic statement such as ‘You have planned your story’ will do.

5. Finally, leave the books covered in mistakes folded into each other with a note for the teacher. If they know that there are three or four children that really didn’t get the concept, they may be able to find time to go through it with them or adjust the planning for the next day. Recently, a whole class were writing a diary entry from the perspective of an evacuee, and one girl sat quietly, concentrating, and wrote an entire page about something completely different. As I scanned the books to see how they were doing, I didn’t pick it up, but when I marked it I realised she had done the wrong thing, and left it out for the teacher to deal with.


Different Marking Techniques

Most schools insist there is a marking guide on the wall of each classroom, here are three common schemes in primary. If the school don’t use them, you shouldn’t either, because they can take a long time for each child!

‘Two ticks/stars and a wish’ means write or underline two things they have done well, and suggest something they could have done better (e.g. * You used full stops, * You used exciting vocabulary, / Next time, try to include a question)

‘Pink for Think, Green for Go’ or ‘Tinkled Pink and Green for Growth’ are the opposite colour systems, but it suggests using one colour (green for go, tickled pink) to underline or highlight good words or punctuation, and the other colour (pink for think, green for growth) to highlight mistakes, words that could be improved (said, went) or the space where punctuation is missing. Most schools will have a number for each, but if not sure, just do one of each because it takes ages to do five of each for every child!

Next steps means a task for the child to do before the next lesson. This would usually be one more calculation for Numeracy, a spelling correction for Literacy, or a question for Topic (e.g. Do you think Henry VIII was a good king?) I would normally have 1-3 differentiated bank ‘next steps’ and write them at the bottom of the book, but only if I’m asked to!

My final little tip would be that if it is unspecified whether they do the work on the sheet (and there is room) or in their books, do it on the sheet. That way, if you haven’t asked the children to set the work out the way the teacher hoped, it’s not in their books that will be taken in for moderation, and they will not need to be marked as thoroughly. It’s also much quicker to tick your way through a pile of sheets than a pile of books!

Always remember to leave a detailed note of how the children found the tasks set by the teacher. This is much easier if you keep a tally as you’re going along when marking of who roughly seems to have achieved their objectives, and who hasn’t. This can be really helpful for the class teacher on their return, and it makes you look very professional and efficient.

If you are a supply teaching and would like to blog about your experience, contact Megan by emailing for more information. 

Tags: Hannah, Bristol, primary, teacher

Category: Australian Teachers

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