Over the past couple of years, I have changed the way I record student progress. Previously I always recorded student homework and assessment data directly onto Excel spreadsheets. Unfortunately, this requires a laptop to be switched and the mark book to be opened which takes time and as they occupy the same space this means that email, social media and other distractions are only a click away. You may be the type of disciplined individual who can ignore these time thieving applications – completing the task in one go to get back to important things (family, books, films, music, mowing the lawn… you get the idea). I have yet to find the inner strength whilst marking, not have a sneaky check up on what’s happening on email, only to realise that the last hour was spent clicking things whilst sat next to a pile of unfinished marking.
Last year I found my solution. I was convinced that the answer lay in the latest app or website and spent hours poring over screens of various sizes trying to find the holy grail of recording systems. There are definitely lots out there and for many people they absolutely do the job, but when I looked at the people around me who were successful at this stuff, technology wasn’t necessarily part of the equation. You know the type of teacher, their books are marked regularly, their assessments completed on time and their desks are neat (that last one has nothing to do with it, but you know what I’m talking about). My solution (and I use the word “my” here to describe what works for me, not a solution that I have invented, and maybe not a solution that will work for you, but let’s see) involves a pen and a paper mark book. Nothing in it to distract, no email icon, no translucent text box appearing every few minutes with the tantalising few sentences of an email which must be checked, and certainly no section in it which will enable you to discover which level of candy crush (or whatever the most recent application which populates your social media timeline) your friends invite you play.
What I have here is a method which was shared at a teach meet recently by @RosalynPopper and I couldn’t keep my hands off it. The triangle method (I just came up with that name, if you think of a better one let me know) is a really simple system of monitoring the quantity and quality of students work. It can be completed quickly during conversations with students or when marking work alone. What I like is that it enables you to see at a glance which students have completed work, exceeded expectation, or shown little or no evidence of completion.
- Figure 1 shows the mark book and key. Hopefully you can see how this works – the dot denotes no evidence, the solid triangle shows work exceeding expectation. A personal learning checklist can be seen down the left-hand side of the marking sheet.
- The scheme of assessment has been broken down into tasks and assessment criteria with names of students across the top of the sheet which enables you to see quickly the stage of completion for each individual.
- The tracking system can then be used to create a Smith pro forma (PiXL speak for a list of areas of development for each individual).
- Figure 2 shows the triangles converted to coloured blocks to display in the classroom so students and teacher can easily see where they need to catch up or improve work.
- Figure 3 shows the assessment monitoring system developed further to incorporate a portfolio checklist so students can self-assess where they are in terms of completing assessment criteria so teachers can use this to record data on their own spreadsheet or double check with student portfolios whether the self-assessment is accurate
I think this system would work in any subject, but if you have your own method or different ideas about how this system could work more effectively I would love to hear from you.