Why mark science?


I’ve got a sneaking  suspicion that marking science is not at the top of every primary school teacher’s agenda. And here’s a thing (I’ll only whisper) it’s pointless to mark the children’s work if:

1) The children will never see that piece of paper again.

2) You don’t plan to address any of the science misconceptions you find in their work.  (Are you happy  with that?)

3) The children are not given the opportunity to address their errors or build on new knowledge using the marking.

Therefore, you need to decide why you are marking science recording. You need to avoid marking work to please parents or even ‘the management’ if it is no benefit to the children’s learning. (You’d be more effective spending that time planning an interesting investigation instead!)

If you are really swamped, whizz through what the children have recorded, note any misconceptions, and then use the start of your next lesson to discuss and clarify. Or better still, build five minutes into each lesson for the children to read your responses to their work and edit and improve.

Never bother writing a comment they won’t use, let alone see! If you don’t have time to mark science, then what is the recording really for? Is it good enough to record just for evidence of teaching?

2 thoughts on “Why mark science?

  1. Finishing placement in Greenwich school who have adopted a Learning Book initiative that places all work (bar Maths) is in one place. All work Science, Geography, History etc marked and visible to children. Simple idea that seems to work.

    1. Thanks John, that sounds a really good idea!

      One thing though, I know you said ‘visible to the children’, but are they given time to reflect and respond to the marking? Building in learner response time to follow marking is the only way it becomes effective marking (setting aside teachers using marking to plan and resond to misconceptions and errors in the next lesson).

      In my experience, children react to marking summatively as in, ‘how did I do? rather than formatively as in, ‘how do I improve,’ unless response time is built in and the process has a system to it, like a marking key etc. Also young children will need time to learn how to respond through teacher modelling respones to marking too, like through a whole class shared edit or shared correction. This is why the job we do is so hard!

      Really, it’s quality rather than quantity. It’s better to mark thirty pieces with comments on how to improve that takes two hours, than spend those two hours ticking and correcting a hundred and twenty pieces that might only be met with a passing glance, if that.

      I think the idea of a Learning Book as you said, sounds like a fantastic way for children to join up all their learning and see its continutiy. Better still if they are using that marking!

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