Partners' code earns full marks

15th April 2005 at 01:00
We find using "writing partners" is a useful teaching tool in English, especially with Years 9 to 11. Students in the same ability range work in pairs and analyse each other's writing in various ways. For example, Year 11 may use a simplified mark scheme that they have helped write, in which they comment on three strengths and suggest two targets to improve the writing. A good focus for a plenary is to look at each other's writing for the technical terms that have been taught in the lesson.

With Year 9, we focus on literacy. Students may look at each other's work for the correct use of connectives, or language used for an argument.

They find the strengths of each other's work and then suggest targets.

Another effective approach is to develop a code with the students - eg NP = new paragraph, SP = spelling error, * = very good point, ? = unclear, = more development of ideas. These seem simple but, surprisingly, many students are unfamiliar with such codes. As a class we devise more, which are printed and stuck in the front of the students' exercise books.

The students feel more in control of their assessment and if I don't use the agreed codes when I mark their writing they soon complain.

Kate Sida

English teacher, King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

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