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AfL without writing

Following the premise that the pupils should be working harder than the teachers, this idea is a great way of achieving the same outcomes without writing very much at all. (Contributed by Joe Kirby on

Ok, so I’m marking 30 books of my Year 10 English class, who have just written a paragraph on ‘How does Arthur Miller present the relationship between John and Elizabeth Proctor in Act Two of The Crucible?’. I’ve asked them to write a PEEL paragraph (Point-Example-Effect-Link).
I choose one of three targets for each student’s paragraph:
? Analyse Miller’s intention in your point
+ Choose a more relevant quotation that shows their relationship
* Improve your link to the audience’s interpretations

All I do is write ?, + or * on each student’s book, depending on what they most need to focus on, then they write out their target from the whiteboard next lesson.

Or, I’m marking 30 books of my Year 7 English class, and I’m getting them to focus on spelling, punctuation and grammar. Any symbols work, for instance:
& Rewrite your spellings correctly x 5.
! Add in all the capital letters and full stops you missed.
^ Rewrite the apostrophe words correctly x5: (it’s = it IS).

I simply scan what a student has written, circle three mistakes they’ve made and write &, ! or ^. They write out (from the board) their target at the start of next lesson and action it.

Another way of doing this but without needing to display the comments to be copied is simply to write the comments on a sheet of A4, and photocopy this for the class. Numbering each comment, then writing just the number in each book is much quicker than writing it out for every pupils who needs a particular comment.

As an added extra, you could add a peer assessment stage, where you DON'T add the numbers to the pupils work, but on a separate marksheet instead. Pupils can then swap books and decide the comments they feel should apply to their friend's book. You can then go around and confirm the actual numbers.

Time will obviously be needed to transfer the comments in "full text" from the copy to their books.

I have attached a messy but effective example below. (contributed by Ben Creasey)

Ben Creasey,
Mar 13, 2014, 4:27 PM