In recognising that special space where learning takes place, Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development, I have tried to maximize how I use this space in supporting my children’s writing progress. Not only have I pitched high (but not too high of course, not outside their grasp), but I have also ‘zoned’ in on each child’s individual ZPD. This is achieved through regular, rigorous written feedback (alliteration intended).
Each piece of written feedback consists of a comment refering to what they have achieved and what they need to do next. It is the latter comment which pulls them along that ZPD towards tangible progress in their learning. The comment I give is carefully chosen to stretch them individually in their writing,designed not to return to old ground, or revisit old learning, but to push them on and support new learning.
All of this is facilitated by a specific time made for ‘editing and improving’, which my children are trained to do in a different colour so I can easily see their improvement; I can see where they have travelled in Vygotsky’s precious zone.
For marking to be effective like this, it’s essential to make it personal and make time for the children to use it! In Vygotsky’s Zone, all those magic teaching tools come to life: modelling, scaffolding, personalised feedback, higher order questioning and more.. In truth however, if none of those are implemented within that magic zone, so they challenge children to think, none of them will work.