Binder Control

Teach Like a Champion Technique 31: Binder Control

Have a compulsory system for the storage, organisation and recall of all paper-based learning.

  • You may wish to number worksheets/notes and add them in order.
  • Take the time to ensure students put materials away after class.

Marking and feedback

Great couple of posts from the ever-inspirational headguruteacher: Marking in Perspective and Making Feedback Count. Lots of good stuff in them but the key point that stands out for me is making time for and creating a culture in which students act on feedback. The mantra of ‘closing the gap’ is a great one – closing the gap between the work that has been done and the work that could be done at a higher level with the benefit of feedback.

I will add this into my list of habits to develop in the classroom – I can feel a Friday skills lesson or similar coming on!

It also further strengthens my desire to have a space for ongoing dialogue in pupils’ exercise books – perhaps a space in the first few pages at the start of the book?

Finally, the resource below provides a range of practical tips for closing the gap – brilliant.


Teaching Mathematics Ch 7: Reflections on catering for the most able

The great thing about maths is that the same topic can be addressed at a range of levels, and so different learners can study the same topic to different levels at the same time. For me, one of the keys to this approach is encouraging independent learning and giving pupils a choice over the challenge they set themselves. Having a more general question included in class/homework offers challenge to those pupils who are ready for it, whilst not making the core work trickier for those who already find it challenging.

The Lazy Teacher’s Handbook: Ch 5 Marking RIP!

The marking you have to do or don’t have to do is heavily reliant on the type of lessons and assessment tasks you plan, according to this chapter. The key question when planning any assessment task is:

What’s the least amount I have to do and what’s the most they get to do?


Planning for marking:

  • Ask the following questions:
  1. What will be produced?
  2. How will it be presented?
  3. How can it be assessed?
  4. Who will assess it?
  5. What role will I have to play in this?
  6. What role will the students have in this?
  • Plan a focus for the marking, and communicate this to pupils.
    • Or ask the students to identify something for you to focus on.
  • Make it a habit to use unusual assessment processes:
    • Share YouTube videos on the web [this would clearly need to be optional!]
    • Film a presentation and play it back for students to assess with assessment cards.
    • Present to another class (and back again!)
    • Get students to keep learning journals for a significant piece of work – assess these alongside (or instead of?) the finished product.
  • Swap books with clear success criteria.
  • Use gallery critique.
  • Occasionally plan for no assessment and no marking.


What to do before accepting work in:

  • Communicate the assessment focus
  • Give students time to check their work in class. Value this time and give them strategies to assist in checking, such as swapping books or checking from the end.
  • Pretend to be the teacher and mark their own work with an overall comment and justifications.
  • Encourage pupils to experiment by putting a question mark and comment beside things they are not sure about and that they will get credit for doing so [this is a great idea to encourage more risk-taking]


Giving the work back

  • Have review time in class to review comments and make corrections there and then.
  • Get peers to mark students’ corrections.
  • Get students to decide, based on feedback, what they are going to focus on for their next piece of work, and write this somewhere. Then assess them on this.
  • Sometimes only focus on the good points [Make this explicit beforehand]
  • Get students to mark your marking – what’s helpful? What’s not so helpful?


Making feedback stick

This blog post from learningspy suggests a form of marking to try to ensure feedback sticks – the author calls it Triple Impact Marking, where the student self-assesses, the teacher comments and crucially poses dialogic questions, and the student answers these.

The other point the post makes is that for feedback to be effective we need to plan structured time for it to be acted upon.

How to survive Ch 6: Paperwork and marking

The book suggests following three rules for paperwork:

  1. If it doesn’t make me cry to think about it, throw it in the bin.
  2. File it, deal with it or pass it on.
  3. Will I (honestly!) use it again?

On marking, there is an interesting suggestion of marking for specific points (for example in maths this might be the quality of your working, or neatness, as opposed to just having the right answer). I like this idea – it would reduce the workload but also allow you (and the student) to focus on something important.

The author makes the point that whilst you can often get students to collect in work for you, with homework it is often worth doing it yourself so that you can administer sanctions to anyone who hasn’t done it. Consider doing this at the end of the lesson if you anticipate any confrontation. Consider a whole class reward if everyone gets their homework in on time.

Consider keeping marks in your register, on a facing page.