Alex Case, Japan

A good marking scheme for young learners should:

Perhaps the three most common things for teachers to put on homework etc are marks (“7/10”, “60%” “B+”, etc), comments (“very good”, “excellent”) and stickers (of smiley faces, thumbs up, stars etc) – all of which lack several key elements from the list above. To achieve more of those things, nowadays I simply tick the correct answers (checking their comprehension as I go along) until I reach a mistake. That mistake is pointed out and the student concerned has a chance to try again while I look at the other students’ work. This continues until, usually, everyone has “100%” written in their books. The reward for the people who got 100% first try is simply:

More rarely, students who don’t have to correct much or anything are allowed to do something fun such as a jigsaw or book until everyone has finished, or if we are only waiting for a couple of students we can start the next whole class activity and let them join in when their homework is perfect.

Students who take longer than they should to correct their own mistakes or who take ages to finish because they didn’t do enough (or sometimes anything) at home simply don’t get that treasured “100%” and the accompanying ticks on their work.

I’ve used this even in classes who are used to getting stickers etc from other teachers, with seemingly no disappointment at all from the kids once they get used to my system.

Here are two ways I make it work in more detail:

Variation 1: Queue of students at the front of the class

I tick the answers of the first student in the line, checking their comprehension once or twice as we go along, e.g. by making them read out answers. Whenever they make a mistake, I stop and allow them to go back to their table to work on that question further and then join the back of the line. This continues until most or all of the students have “100%” written on their books.

Variation 2: Books on table, teacher going round the class

Though it rarely happens, it is possible with the queuing up system above that the first student could get everything right and so have lots of time to kill with nothing to do until the other students have corrected their homework. This variation avoids that problem because the teacher only checks up until the next question, i.e. just question one of the first student, questions one and two for the second student, etc.

Students open their homework books and I go to the first student and get them to read out the first question. If they did that homework question correctly, they get a tick. If they got it wrong, they can try again while I’m working my way round the room back to them. I then move onto the next person. They get a tick for question 1 and then read out question 2 if they are right, or can try it again if they are wrong while I work my way round the class back to them. Then I do exactly the same with the third person (up to three ticks, reading out the third question if the first two are right, if not working on any wrong ones) etc. I continue round and round the class until, usually, everyone has “100%” written in their books and has had their comprehension of at least one or two questions double checked.

Situations in which you would need to come up with further variations on the marking system mentioned in this article would include classes which are so large that the teacher needs to correct homework outside class time, classes in which homework scores need to be collected to help grade the students, and classes which can’t be trusted to work on their homework alone while the teacher is doing something else.

About the Author

Alex Case has worked as a teacher and occasional teacher trainer and writer/ editor in Turkey, the UK, Thailand, Spain, Greece, Italy, Korea and Japan. Links to his over 400 articles, 1500 worksheets, and 1500 blog posts related to all things TEFL can be found on his blog at http://tefltastic.wordpress.com/publications/ E-mail: alexcase@hotmail.com


© 2014 by © HLT Magazine and Pilgrims Limited