Some specifics

A few more specifics about how this is going to work might be helpful.

Firstly, marking every book, every day. Two key motivators behind this one:

  • If I mark their books every lesson, they will know that their work is being closely monitored
  • If their work is being closely monitored by me, I can more appropriately adapt lessons to help them in the areas where they need help

Although it sounds great, there aren’t many teachers who wouldn’t do that given the time. The issue is that nobody has the time, me included. So I’m simplifying this a little bit by using exit tickets.

I’ve set out some clear lesson objectives for each lesson and then at the end of each lesson they’ll fill out a question on a named slip that will check their understanding of that lesson objective. If they’ve not grasped it or finished it, they get a red dot; if they’re almost there but lack something crucial, a yellow dot; if they’ve shown mastery of that objective, a green dot.

Then, at the start of their next lesson they’ll get 5-10 minutes of DIRT time to answer another question on the board, which will hopefully fill in the gaps on what they didn’t grasp first time round.

Having tried this so far, it means you can mark a set of books in about fifteen minutes. Admittedly, though, it’s not the same as extended writing, so I’ll set them one piece of extended writing a week where they can hopefully bring their newly-acquired knowledge to bear. This is a development on what I’ve done previously, where every lesson would involve a PEE – however, at present this just isn’t working with 8X3. I don’t think this will radically increase my marking load either; it’s just marking better, and will hopefully allow them to get some better feedback too.

Secondly, tracking progress using a visual tracker. Again, a few key motivators here:

  • They can see explicitly where they’re slipping and then can address this
  • They will hopefully take pride in beating their classmates or excelling at a task
  • I can tell where they need to improve and can make sure that lessons or homework tasks are tailored accordingly

I’ve toyed with a couple of ways of doing it but I think the best one is to measure it per lesson. Get a green dot, your spreadsheet mark is green; likewise if you get a red one. There’s an intrinsic danger in this, either in that getting a string of reds will become a badge of pride or something that cripples people’s self-esteem. I don’t have an answer to this one, so I just have to see how it works, but hopefully the class reward sheet will help a little.

Finally, class rewards.

I expect my students to work for the satisfaction of working. So they get qualifications, so they get satisfaction and pride in their attitude, and because learning is exciting. 8X3 don’t always agree with me on that, and it’s taken quite a while for me to swallow my pride and realise that they need greater incentives than just “you have to do it” or “if you don’t get an English GCSE you’ll starve”.

This is straightforward. The chart goes up on the board, and if during a silent task they all remain silent, they get a mark on it. Joshua comes into the room and sits down to his work immediately, they get a mark on it. Ten marks equals a class reward, either of being able to sit where you want, or possibly some cake… whatever. It goes against my principles, but my principles aren’t working for me here, and the best thing I’ve found that works for them is a suggestion from my colleague of giving them raffle tickets that might allow them to win a sweet at the end of the lesson, so go figure. I’ll still give out small rewards, but I want to get them all working together in service of something they want – so they know that they can do it.

I’ll try and write a little more about my expectations of how they’ll react next time.

Any insights from people who have tried this and know the pitfalls, get in touch!

You can also follow me on Twitter at @northerntopcat.

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Some specifics

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