Structured Peer Assessment reviewed by Ruth Greener

ruth greenerThis guest post is by Ruth Greener, Teaching, Learning and Assessment Coordinator and Teacher of English at St. Andrews School, Green Valley Campus, Bangkok.

When I got the email from Yacapaca, with details and links for the Christmas Story competition, I was keen to try it out. Students at my very sporty school LOVE games and competitions, and I knew that with Primary students rehearsing for carol concerts and busy with Learning Journeys near the end of term, the chances of being able to book a lesson in the ICT lab were high. And a lesson that runs itself at the end of a long term? Well, yes, please.

And a lesson that runs itself at the end of a long term? Well, yes, please.

I tried out the Christmas SPA with my high-flying Year 9s first, and despite my mistake with the timing, they performed very well – fantastic concentration on the task itself, and also on the feedback. The quality of their writing for both was high. However, one thing that really got me invested in the concept was a comment from a student. He is always conscientious and prompt with homework, but he doesn’t really feel the love for English. He said he “really got into” writing his story – just in the 10 minutes he was given. Sure enough, peers voted his second best in the class – a position he would never normally ever achieve.

I became more convinced of the benefits when I shared the Answer Rank and Judgement Rank with the students – they were very interested, and like me, really valued the information about who showed good judgement, even if their own writing wasn’t great.

Having completed the same task with my Year 8 middle set, I am keen to develop and extend my use of these SPA writing tasks, especially in conjunction with drafting and improving. The tasks give so much opportunity to see how individuals think and learn, and the feedback the students are able to provide for each other is useful, accessible and insightful.

It is long past time to abandon paper-based examinations

chinese exam g edit

The ‘exam paper’ has been around for the last 14 centuries and it is still going strong. The way things are going, the exam-paper looks likely to outlast even the news-paper.

But it shouldn’t. Paper-based exams are a hideously-unreliable method of assessing competence. Here are some of the major reliability problems of Continue reading

How much does your school spend on marking?

I have yet to meet a single head or senior teacher who can answer this off the top of their heads, but it is easy to work out using government-published figures.
  1. Teachers work 55.7 hours/week total1, and spend 9.4 hours/week marking2. That’s 17%.
  2. The average teacher salary is £28,9513, but we have to add the employer’s NI contribution of 13.8% to give an employer cost of £32,946, ignoring all overheads.
  3. 17% of £32,946 of is £5,601. That’s what we spend on marking per teacher, per year.
  4. The average secondary school employs 654 qualified teachers, so the total cost per school is £364,053.
I’ll repeat that. The average state secondary school spends well over a third of a Continue reading

Set an exam using Quick Assignments

Sam Hucker from Winterbourne International Academy asked me this question this morning:

I have set up a partial exam for my BTEC Engineering students. Is there a way that I can set up further questions where they have to type paragraphs or free sentences in larger
quantities? Continue reading

How to calibrate quiz percentages to levels or grades

calibrationIf you look in your gradebook for any given student set, you will see that all the results are reported in the grade scheme you chose for that set. It’s easy to take that for granted and not think about how it is achieved – at least I hope it is, because we have worked hard to make the enormous complexity of that task invisible to casual users.

Although teachers very rarely challenge the accuracy of Yacapaca results, I do occasionally get asked about their Continue reading