Managing marking...big write how do you do it?

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Managing marking...big write how do you do it?

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    In Sept we are thinking of starting the big write to improve writing. I am a little concerned that this will increase marking significantly if you close mark each book. I don't want to add to teachers workload too much.How does your school make it work for you?

    Do you mark each book in detail each big write? Do you get extra time to mark/moderate?

    If you don't and you can think of a way it would work better can you let me know?

    Does big write fit better in a morning or afternoon? Is there a day which works better?

    Any other top tips?

    Thanks

    Anna xSmile

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    We do Big Writing every Friday morning - a 45 minute talk/plan session before break and a 45 minute writing session after break.  The marking really is horrendous and takes me roughly 2 hours every Saturday - but it is something that the school have always done and it is actually my favourite lesson to teach!  My kids love having the candle and mozart, and we put a lot of effort into thinking up lots of fab writing topics with visual stimuli and lots of talk time.

     

    We traffic light mark every piece and once a half term we also level and target set using the criterion scale. 

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    Thanks Cally- this is my worry, I think it may help improve writing but I am worried about the teachers. We have a lot of pressures at ours schools (federation) already. The teachers work so hard. They really shouldn't be marking on a Saturday!

    I want to make it manageable for everyone. Can you think of a way we could do this?

    Do you help the children plan before the write and then leave them to write independently?

    We have never worked with the Big write and so it would be useful to get the tips before we start!Big Smile

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    We play VCOP games to warm up (5-10 mins), then we would introduce the task and show some kind of stimulus (a poem, a picture, a scenario, video clip etc).  We would discuss the task, generate and share our ideas, record some relevant vocabulary.  Then usually model to show the children exactly what we expect/remind them of the format.  Occassionally (depending on task) we will work in some role play/hot seating.  Then right before the break the children get 5-10 minutes to plan, in a way that suits them.  Some simply draw their own version of a VCOP board & jot down all the vocab etc that they want to use in their writing that day - maybe focussing on their target area).  They can then use it almost as a checklist so they dont get too into their writing to remember to use it all.

    The writing is silent & independent, though they know they can refer to the VCOP board on the wall and pyramids on the table.  We stop at intervals and ask for an example of a connective in a sentence or something similar to refocus the children on what they should be aiming for in their writing but sometimes this can disrupt the flow.

    As for the marking, Id love it if we could depth mark 1 in 3 on rotation but I dont know if that is feasible?  This way the children can work to the same target for 3 weeks and really consolidate the usage, yet marking is far more manageable.  The other 20 could be read and given a brief comment as the children really do like knowing their hard work is being read and appreciated!  The only problem is you would need to ensure that the rotation includes samples of different writing styles and purposes for every child or else you could end up having marks 5 poems belonging to 'Tom' and no examples of letters/recounts/non chron reports etc.

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    I like the 1 in 3 idea, that is much more realistic. I think we would have to ensure rotation of genres though. Do you decide as a whole school what genre each week or is it left to your discretion?

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    At our discretion - we share ideas though, so if im struggling for inspiration I will ask year 5 if they have an old one they have done that I can adapt for my Yr 4's or something!  Sometimes it is as simple as a picture of a door - what could be behind it?  WIll you open it?  What happens? To write a story.

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    Big SmileThanks Cally x

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    Good luck with it!!

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    I cut down my marking a fair bit by setting up a system where I underlined parts the child had done well (related to whatever the stated objective was at the time) in green, and errors, bits that didn't work well or whatever I was looking for in pink pen (or blue or purple or whatever colour was deemed nonethreatening - I did green/red... well pink for stop/go) with a note in the margin beside or at the bottom about WHY I'd flagged that bit up. Meant I could highlight as I read through, and reduced the writing reams and reams and reams of comments the kids never read anyway factor down - and they seemed to respond really well to the visual "this bit works, this bit is wobbly" factor of it. So I might have a green underline with a comment in the margin like "I really like the way you've used description in this sentence" or pink with "you've used a lot of speech here but not made it clear what is actually happening in this part.... that kind of thing if it makes sense.

     

    The other thing we did that helped a lot was get separate books for extended writing - meant you didn't have to turn them all around ready to use their literacy books on Monday morning so I could do 5 or 6 a night after school rather than it feeling like a trudge through reams and reams and reams of them.

     

    Oh and - if doing the "let them write in whatever pen they choose" thing for it (like one school I know does)... I'd recommend banning flourescent gel pens for this after seeing a colleague struggling to mark an entire Y6length work of pink flourescent gel pen and almost driving himself cross eyed in the process!

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    I teach in Year 6 and started using Ros Wilson's big writing a couple of years ago. It had an immediate, amazing impact on the levels in my class as well as the children's confidence and enjoyment of writing. I then rolled it out across the school and, despite some early worries (which sound very similar to yours) it has worked very well in the school.

    The great thing is that, the more you mark with the criterion scales, the more you memorise them- within a short space of time you will be looking at work and will know without formally marking it, what level the work is and what the child's next targets should be. Further up the school- in Years 4, 5 and 6, the children spend half an hour a week levelling their own work and setting their own targets. This takes some training initially, but really ticks the 'personalised learning/ independent learners' box. You are empowering the children with the knowledge of what makes good writing.

    You should allocate at least one KS meeting every half term to moderating, as you would if you were using the APP. I always big write on a Tuesday then the children assess their own work on a Friday- which gives me time to mark and reflect on what to teach next. This counts as the one quality marked piece of literacy work we are supposed to do every week - so it kills two birds with one stone.

    If in doubt, visit the Andrell forum. It's fantastic and Ros Wilson and the team will answer any questions. Best of luck.

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    I agree with you regencyrob. You would have to mark an extra piece of literacy even if you didn't do a big write! I tend to mark on an evening to leave my weekends free but marking is actually part of the job we are paid to do!

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    80KSharp

     Further up the school- in Years 4, 5 and 6, the children spend half an hour a week levelling their own work and setting their own targets. This takes some training initially, but really ticks the 'personalised learning/ independent learners' box. You are empowering the children with the knowledge of what makes good writing.

    This is what I do. Every Monday we do an extended writing session and every Tuesday the children level their own work and set their own targets for improvement. They then write an improved version (or begin to) while I whizz round as many children as possible to level their work while they are there.

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    Marking their own work and levelling sounds much better than what we do. I might even be persuaded to use Big Writing again next year, if that was the case. Not likely though.

    I'm in year 6, but year 5 do the same thing. Big Writing was new to us this year, brought in by a new literacy co-ordinator. Initially children liked the music and candles, but they soon lost their appeal.

    30 mins before break on VCOP activities and a bit of chat about the writing task and then 45 mins unaided writing after break. Basically a SATs practice every week. And yes, we teachers need to have it marked by the following Friday with VCOP as the focus for marking and target setting.

    As they don't see the piece again until the following Friday, they can't use the target in the rest of their work during the week. Drives me utterly nuts and is basically a waste of a literacy lesson every week. I hate watching them screw up their unaided writing when I could be teaching them how to write. The marking is deadly boring and time-consuming. Imagine a SATs or optional test long writing task to mark every single week, with no real mark scheme as you just mark the VCOP bits.

    To me it is on a par with those people who give their children a times table test every week and say 'I do teach them times tables, look at all these test marks.' Testing children, be it writing, spelling, tables, whatever, does not improve standards.

    I'm hoping (and likely to be in a position to be able to) use Talk for Writing in KS1 next year. Seems a much more sensible way of going about improving writing than a weekly test.

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    minnieminx

    To me it is on a par with those people who give their children a times table test every week and say 'I do teach them times tables, look at all these test marks.' Testing children, be it writing, spelling, tables, whatever, does not improve standards.

    I'm hoping (and likely to be in a position to be able to) use Talk for Writing in KS1 next year. Seems a much more sensible way of going about improving writing than a weekly test.

    I found your points about Big Writing interesting, especially because we don't currently use it. Some teachers are pushing for it to be brought in.

     

    However, it was this comment at the end I don't agree with. I think testing is one of many tools that help contribute to improving standards.

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    We do an adaption of Big Writing-basically extended writing with additional input, but I then mark it over the weekend and the targets set are the ones I and the children work on in our guided groupwork during the week. So the children are "set" each week  into groups with similar learning objectives-be it improve punctuation, increase vocabulary content etc. The intention is that they work on this during the week and hopefully crack it!

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    CarrieV
    We do an adaption of Big Writing-basically extended writing with additional input, but I then mark it over the weekend and the targets set are the ones I and the children work on in our guided groupwork during the week.
    This is more or less what we used to do. Lots of talking/role play/planning/creating all wee and then extended writing on Friday. All linked together. This makes sense to me and the writing reflects what they have learned the previous week and the marking reflects what they will work on the following week.

    Big Writing is totally stand alone in our school. A separate thing entirely, with a separate folder and different target etc. So year 5 and 6 have basically done a SATs long writing task every week in test conditions (plus a candle and music) since September. All nicely marked with yellow and green highlighters and circled with a green pen and put in a nice folder.

    They have learned nothing at all by doing it though and I have resented having to do that level of marking every week.

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    Milgod
    I think testing is one of many tools that help contribute to improving standards.
    We might have to agree to disagree on that one. Or I shall go off on a long rant that has no relevance to this thread! :)
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    minnieminx
    All nicely marked with yellow and green highlighters and circled with a green pen and put in a nice folder.

    What a waste of your time and theirs! ( and I got fed up of the bloody music too, I just put on a few  tracks from my ipod!)
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    CarrieV

    minnieminx
    All nicely marked with yellow and green highlighters and circled with a green pen and put in a nice folder.

    What a waste of your time and theirs! ( and I got fed up of the bloody music too, I just put on a few  tracks from my ipod!)
    Maybe our school just does it weirdly. Perhaps I should be more open minded and go and visit some other schools and see what they do. Not sure I'll be able to change our school system though. Literacy co-ord loves it all.
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    Have you ever been on a Ros Wilson course? She advocates big talking and has been plugging her very own version of talk for writing for a long time now. I highly recommend that you go- it's the single most inspirational course I've ever been on. Big writing does improve levels if you follow the program correctly and have fun with it, it's not simply another test- it's about empowering the children with the knowledge about what makes a good writer. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, go on the Andrell website and post them. Ros is very prompt at replying and she gives excellent advice, I use it whenever I'm stuck.

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