Know Thyself

Mastering others is strength; Mastering yourself is true power.” -Lao Tzu, Chinese Taoist Philosopher.

My question this week is how do we get students to master themselves and to know their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to writing essays?

For at least the last five years of my teaching career, it has been a requirement to write detailed feedback on student work.  This has taken many forms and colours depending on the school’s policy. From the www ebi or two stars and a wish to the purple pen of progress; I think I’ve seen more than my fair share.

However, I have noticed that no matter how careful and considered the remarks I write, students are interested in only two things; their grade and the grade of their neighbour.

I do get them to ‘close the gap’ between what is required and what they have produced by asking them to write a better paragraph based on their feedback but I still find that many of them do not know  exactly what it was that they did to make it better.

Therefore, I decided to find a way to get students to write their own feedback and save me writing the same comment twenty times!

AS level essays are structured using three PEEL paragraphs (point, evidence, explain, link) so I got students to write an essay and annotated each paragraph with P EV EX L in the margin.  I then placed two ticks against any top band (grade A) paragraphs and returned them to students with a task which I wrote on the board.  The task asked:

  1. If I have given you two ticks, can you explain why?
  2. Make a tally to show the number of each of P EV EX and Ls you have been given
  3. Identify your main strength (www)
  4. Suggest what you need to work on next (ebi)?

Some students found it difficult to articulate their strengths and areas for improvement so I spent a little time with them individually asking further questions to get them to put into words what they had done well and which area they needed to focus on in future.  They then re-wrote a paragraph as usual but only after they had come up with their own www and ebi.

Jobs done this week (ofsted week): All teaching and most assessment tasks,  two pre-ofsted and two post-ofsted meetings!

Jobs not done:  Yr 7 test results still to be entered into ‘fancy tracker’ and yr 7 and 8 reports to write

Jobs for weekend: Yr 13 mocks to mark

Please excuse the short blog this week.  Have a great weekend and let me know if you have any further ideas for comment- free marking.




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