This post is  a synopsis of  Chapter 5 Marking RIP! from The Lazy Teachers Handbook  (How your students Learn more when you teach less)  by Jim Smith 2010. the book is well worth a read, you are welcome to borrow mine. In it Smith defines  Assessment as any form of feedback – verbal, written text – from the teacher or peers and Marking as feedback that includes a justification of a grade of some description. In his introduction he poses the question that if students read the comments made by the teacher,  how do we know that these comments are having an impact?

Lazy Teacher RIP marking

1. Ask yourself key Questions about the task to be set.

What will be produced?

How will it be presented?

How can it be assessed?

Who will assess it?

What role will I play?

What role will the student play?

2. Plan your focus

Have a focus for your marking. Identify something for you to focus on, such as where they have improved (their spelling, presentation or explanation). This is necessary to pick up on progress

3. Do it differently

Smith suggests a variety of ways to assess work.

  • Use a voting system
  • Create an exhibition of work – asking for comments
  • Present to another class and use their feedback
  • Students to keep “ learning journals” so the process as well as the product can be assessed. This will allow for reflection. Comments made can then be starting points for future work

4. Plan to use the students

Students learn a lot by marking. Simply swap books and mark. If success criteria are clear it is a powerful process.

Display the work as a gallery and equip the group with Post-it notes asking them to make comments. This will increase interest as students very keen to see what others have written.


What to do before accepting work for marking

  1. Communicate the focus

Get the students to plan how they will know that they are working towards achieving the focus

  1. Give students checking time in class

Give students 5 – 10 minutes in class before they hand in their work to check it thoroughly. –  get them to check each other’s.

  1. Check form the end

get students to check their work from the end. Read the last sentence, then second last sentence and so on. This will allow them to focus on the detail of the sentence rather than the overall sense of the work

  1. Do me out of a job!

Ask students to write a comment they think is needed and justify why by writing comments to show how success criteria have been met.


Giving the work back

  1. Review time in class

Give students time to read through returned work. Make sure they correct remaining errors and complete their response to the feedback.

  1. Mark corrections

Ask for students to go through their work again, make improvements and have then peer assessed.

  1. Stop history repeating itself

Ask students to start the next piece of work by recording what are they will be working on with this piece of work based on feedback from previous work.

  1. Focus on good points

Occasionally, do not correct your students’ work for mistakes , but rather focus on the good points.

  1. The late night marker

Return the work with some completely fictitious comments and ask them why the comment or final grades are wrong?

  1. Mark the marking

Ask students to mark your feedback in terms of how it helps them learn.

and finally

The “feel good Friday” phone call

Choose 3 students whose parents/carers you are going to ring to say just how well their children are doing. Be specific to start with – for example it might be about a particular piece of work – but then expand your positive feedback to cover their more general characteristics.