Year 12 were in limbo last week when they turned up for their History lesson with me. Half of them were missing in action - revising or in an exam so I decided to get them to help me out. I had a pile of Year 9 assignments to mark - pupils had created a written report based on enquiry into how the Nazis and Hitler got into power and how Jews has been persecuted in Europe prior to the 20th century.
Since Year 12 Historians are pretty much experts in the Nazi state due to their A/S studies I asked them to look over the work and provide feedback for the Year 9 students. At first they were rather reluctant, sleepy, tired and cynical - "so we're just doing your work for you....?".
We briefly discussed what we were looking for and what they should comment on- there were clear success criteria for the format of the report and the solo taxonomy provided the framework for the level of thinking achieved in what was written. I then checked the feedback and marking with the sixth formers and added detail if it was missing.
The quality of feedback was really good - the markers tried to acknowledge the successes and then give specific, helpful feedback about what they could do to improve. I felt this feedback from Lucy to Jack was really helpful and complimentary:
I really liked the simplicity of this feedback from Charlotte:
What was interesting was the the reflections of the sixth formers as we discussed peer assessment. There was a clear divide between some of the sixth formers who felt that when peer assessing the work of people you knew well in your class it encouraged you to be more critical, whereas you were less likely to be "harsh" with people you didn't know. On the other hand, some of the group felt it was a challenge to provide "feedforward" or advice for improvement to people you didn't know well as you weren't aware of the level they normally worked at and were capable of. This is something teachers who know their students well take for granted.
The reaction of Year 9 to getting this feedback was on the whole markedly positive, there were two people who couldn't read the writing! Mostly though Year 9 were surprised at the attention to detail; they liked the praise and some even wanted to write some notes of thanks in return! It makes me consider how I can tap into this more and I'm now considering how we can use our classblog or perhaps Edmodo to submit work for "not quite peer review".