Monday, 28 October 2013

#blogsync Marking: WWW, EBI & INT

This month's blogsync topic is all about marking and all entries can be seen by going to There are already some fantastic entries, none of which I will try to emulate here, but I will give my account of the marking expectations at my school and how I have gone about this task over the past half term.

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On arrival at my school this September I was presented with my very own stamper to use when marking my students' exercise books/work. It is very similar to my own stamper I bought from last year and used when marking...with one slight difference. It wasn't just a What Went Well (WWW) and Even Better If (EBI) stamper but also an 'I Need To (INT) stamper. Here it is...

The significance of the INT part of the stamper is to ensure there is input from the student as to how they are going to action their EBIs that I write based on their work that I mark. The theory is that you get to see a conversation in the students' exercise books where a continuous loop happens with feedback being given, students responding as to how they're going to action their EBIs, evidence of this progress being made in their subsequent work, future feedback on their work with further points to action and so on.

It has taken a while to get used to this system and it is something I have had to not only train myself with, but also my students. When returning students marked work (mainly their homework tasks) I will ask them to look over their WWW and EBI comments and then get them to fill in their INTs. Now this has meant a lot of prodding and guidance as to what constitutes a good 'INT statement' and what is merely copying the EBI that I wrote. For instance, if I have said that a student has added and subtracted fractions well and it'd be EBI they could multiply and divide fractions their INT shouldn't say 'I need to multiply and divide fractions', but must say something along the lines of how they are going to action the EBI. For example, they could put that they are going to look up the topic on mymaths or Manga High. They could say they will stay behind after school on Friday and go to the 'Maths Club' to ask for help. They could look up the topic in one of my YouTube videos, they could ask their tutor (if they are lucky enough to have one). They could ask me for help in/after a lesson. They could look up the topic in a text book etc etc.

Here's an example of the stamper, my WWW and EBI (on a mixed C/B grade h/w sheet) and the students INT comment.

After the students have filled in their INTs 2 things then happen: The first is that when I next take their books in I will check their previous stamp and initial their INT if I feel it is appropriate. If I feel it is not full enough I will suggest something they could do, or provide a bit of extra guidance. For example...

In the below students' h/w he wrote that he needed to look up converting between squared units - fair enough. However, between this time and the next h/w sheet there was no evidence of him having progressed here. So, I wrote a few notes underneath his next stamp and then, following this, he made some additional notes in the back of his book and will look to get this area correct next time round.

This was the original h/w sheet. Here I mark the questions and just tick them if they are correct, cross if not. Sometimes I'll write the correct answers into those that are incorrect, time depending.
I then feedback using the stamper. We are told to try and make the WWW and EBI as objective specific as possible, for example WWW: you are able to add and subtract fractions [grade/level], EBI: you were able to multiply and divide fractions [grade/level]. However, in practice, sometimes this is difficult and I end up putting more vague comments like 'well done, you've got everything correct'. It's these times (when a student does everything well) that it is hard to find an EBI and hard to list everything they did well.

You can see here though that the student identified the need to 'learn how to convert between squared units'

In a following h/w I noticed, having looked back at previous stamps and comments, that the student still hadn't got the converting between squared/cubed units question correct. So, in addition to my usual comments I added a bit of extra feedback and guidance to support the student further.

What resulted was their own notes in the back of their book...

(I'm fully aware this pic is upside down, I have changed its' orientation and tried to insert it multiple times now, but still it wants to stay this way up...Grr)

I'm now awaiting the next h/w sheet to see if they have made progress with this question...fingers crossed.

The 2nd thing that happens after I have done my WWW and EBI marking and the students have done their INTs is that they use their fortnightly computer room lesson to independently go through, look up, and research topics that they need to work on. This could be using mymaths, Manga High, my YouTube channel, BBC bitesize, google, Wolfram Alpha, textbooks etc etc. These fortnightly lessons are used really well to get students to focus on their INTs so they don't merely write them and forget about them.

As a teacher, I am expected to mark each class' books once a fortnight and so each of my class' books have now got somewhere between 3 and 4 stamps in, depending on which week I take them in to mark. Now, I do quite like marking my students books, without it I wouldn't have anywhere near as clear a picture as I do of their work and progress to date. I find it can be therapeutic, but also quite stressful when time doesn't allow you to go through the WWW and EBIs as I'd wish. In order to combat this I have tried to get my students to do their own WWW/EBI and INT feedback. However, there are some students that do not do this so well and so this becomes almost a waste of time, plus I don't get to look over that particular bit of work as much as I would have if I marked it myself.

Plus, there's the same problem when they get full marks...what do they put for their EBI and INT?!

Personally, with the expectations on marking and the inevitability that a member of staff will come into check the books of the class that I perhaps haven't marked as much as others, I feel getting into marking routines is the only way around the workload. It's taken me the best part of the 7 and a half week half term to get into this routine and I now take in each class' books when they have handed in their h/w to me. I take the class' books home that night, mark them, and return them the next day. This means that I mark 3 evenings a week, usually for an hour each time, and then the rest of my time is spent planning lessons/resources etc.

However, there is one 'curve ball' to this Year 11's past GCSE papers. Since the start of the year our Year 11s have now completed 2 GCSE past papers in class as assessments that we use to track their grades and progress. They have had 1 non-calc and 1 calc paper and these, of course, have needed marking too. These papers are marked question-by-question, a total given, a grade and then students fill in AfL sheets in their feedback lesson. In addition, to support my students further, I have been trying to create 'solution videos' for the questions on these papers and sticking them on my YouTube channel. All this takes time, but in the long run (I hope) will be beneficial to my students.

All the marks and grades from these h/w sheets, papers, marked work etc go into my teacher's planner and I keep track here of how my students are doing, the progress they are making and I can see from this where interventions are needed. I'm quite traditional in the respect of using my planner as my markbook, but I'll also use an excel spreadsheet for past GCSE papers so I can analyse question-by-question how my classes have done on the papers and certain questions.

Here's a pic of one of my Year 11 classes markbooks so far this year...

You can see here the 5 h/w sheets the class have already had (all out of 20) and the 2 GCSE past papers they have sat.

The h/w sheets I use are all mixed C/B grade topics that I give out each week on a non-calc/calc rotation basis. These sheets allow me to ensure my students are keeping the basic skills to achieve each of these grades fresh, whilst we cover over topics in class. I am also planning on creating tutorial videos to go along side these to go up on my YouTube channel to give them another avenue for their INTs, i.e. INT 'look up question (x) on Mr Collins' YouTube Channel, do the practice questions and check my answers'.

If you would like to download these sheets they can be found on my TES resources at:

I hope this post goes someway to contributing to the debate on marking. By no means do I suggest that this is the way to do it and that I am doing everything I should be. I'm fully aware there are things I can do better with my feedback being more specific at times and I still need to improve the use of the INT part of the stamps. In terms of checking students in class work this comes from my use of AfL and my plenaries. I do look over the students' classwork when I mark their books and if I see something of worth I'll add a comment, equally, if something is seriously wrong I'll comment on it too, sometimes using the stamper, sometimes just freestyling!

I still use my 'Mr Collins likes this' stamp too, when I can see a student has persevered or done a particularly good amount of work/made improvements (like the example shown).

Remember, check out the other posts in this months #blogsync by going to


  1. I love your stamp & plan to get one just like it - should make the marking workload more manageable! Your marking & mark book look impressive & effective. Suggestion: if students have full marks, for EBI,could you ask them to progress to next level of challenge for their subsequent homework or complete appropriate extension activity or even explain their strategy to other students?

  2. Do you know where to get such a personalised stamp? I have looked around and can find plenty with 'WWW' and 'EBI', but not the extra 'I need to'
    Any help would be greatly appreciated - many thanks!

    1. you can get them from primary teaching services (PTS). Try this...

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  4. A really interesting and detailed post, thanks for sharing (and being honest about the difficulties) of good practice!

  5. Thank you - I'm looking for ways to improve my feedback and this was really thought provoking!