Live Marking

Resources, ideas and prompts for discussion related to Feedback.

What is it and how does it work?

Live Marking potentially offers a means to make Verbal Feedback a little more formalised. When the class is working, take the opportunity to invite them up one at a time (or go to them), discuss the work with them, give any immediate feedback that may help them and guide them to improvement.

As a strategy it lends itself to situations where a class is working on an extended writing piece, and exam paper, or any extended and focused individual task. You need the time and space to be able to have a few minute discussion with a student, and this does not work well if the task going on in the background is shorter and less detailed. Live Marking also provides good feedback for extended tasks which is why you would do it then. Importantly, your aim is not to see everyone in the lesson. You may see a proportion of the class in one lesson and then get around everyone within a week-two week window (again, why this works well with extended tasks). Part of the differentiation in-built into Live Marking is that your knowledge of the class will mean you know who would benefit from their few minutes with you earlier in the task rather than later.

From the outside, the image or thought of a teacher sitting with a student, discussing the work together and having a conversation about how to improve it, is surely a big positive. Even though it is a technique that is unlikely to be used regularly, perhaps seeing each member of your class in this way once over the course of a term, it is a far better use of the time teachers and students have together than a teacher taking books away to spend hours and hours ‘marking’ in isolation of the student, and the student then trying to interpret what that comment may have meant when they get the work back (probably with little opportunity or time to ask or improve).

Shaun Allison, in ‘Making Every Lesson Count’, explains how he ambitiously actually does try to use this every lesson with his science classes! Endeavouring to go to around a few students per lesson (up to about 8) while the class is working on a written task or practical experiment, and then takes a moment to flick back over recent pages in their books. Based on what he sees he provides a prompt or question (a Feedback for Action) that the student can do or respond to in their work there and then.

The video clip below is by Brooke Weston (YouTube), an English teacher who has uploaded a clip of her using this approach with a student and emphasising how it works. The example is from A-Level English so the time spent with the student is perhaps longer than could be managed in a typical class, never the less the student has received loads of useful feedback and no doubt understands the annotations more than if the teacher did them on their own (the teacher also did not have to use up time outside the lesson).

Associated further reading and references:

  • ‘Chapter 5: Feedback, in Allison, S. and Tharby, A., 2017. Making Every Lesson Count. Carmarthen: Crown House.

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