Lazy Marking in Geography

Its not an original thought I know, but I HATE marking. The only bit all year I enjoy is adding up the scores for my pupils’ mock exam scores and even that isnt really the marking part.

Additionally, the younger the pupils the more I struggle to motivate myself to mark. I think that’s because they are more likely to just regurgitate back what I said in the lesson or they read in the book or from the webpage. So this means I am even more likely to have to write the same things over and over again.

Then there is the question “Do the pupils read what I write?” Even when I remember to set aside some time in class for them to do this I am not sure if they do. Last month I read part of Dylan Wiliam’s “Embedded Formative assessment”

In there he quoted research to say that if you give a grade/mark/level and a comment then the pupils only look at the grade and ignore the comment. I have to say this backs up my personal experience.

So I have developed a plan to get round these two problems of me wasting time marking and pupils not reading what I write. I only use this for the more major assessment pieces where I am likely to give them a level. I dont think for more run of the mill marking it would save me time. Also It would then start to take up too much timje in the mere 90 minutes a week i have with KS3.

The Lazy Marking in Geography Technique

While I am marking their work I don’t write down any targets for improvement. Instead I collect these targets and put them on a document. This I then sort into levels and hand out to the students next lesson. All I write on their actual work myself is a NC level and a positive comment on something they have done well.

Then in the lesson, they read their work and look at the level I gave them. Then I hand out the target sheet and ask them to choose targets that they wish to aim for. I don’t limit them to the ‘next level up’ I tell them they can choose any 2 they wish.

I make them write these targets in the middle of a new page and then draw a simple unadorned box around them. nothing else goes on the page. that way it sticks out in their book and can be easily seen by pupil, parent, tutor and of course me. This target can then be referred to any time over the next half term. After that I find it becomes a bit repetitive.

I have attached below the various lists of targets I have set out over the last 18 months. You will notice there is much repetition in them. The trick is to find targets that relate back to what has just been covered AND to the next topic as well. all the below are my own.

Please steal and adapt them if you wish. If you have any comments or would like to tell me if and how you used them and how you improved them i would love to hear back. The only resource that is not mine is the “Geography Ladders” powerpoint. i cannot remember where on the internet i got this from. If you recognise it and know the author please tell me.

I am sorry they are in no order and their names dont tell much about them. I originally only wrote them for myself

early Y9 geog targets

end of unit targets africa

end of unit targets fashion


level targets start of tectonics topic y9

targets at the start of the topic

targets.topic detail TRF

Term 5 Geography Target Setting

Y9 targets end agricult topic

Year 7 targets before school geog lessons


A KS4 group with no curriculum

Does your school still do Study Plus? Ours doesn’t apparently since we don’t have the money to have 15 pupils with one TA and one teacher in the room together to help them get their GCSE grade C’s in English and Maths. So this year there is a group of pupils starting their GCSEs with a unit called ‘Study Plus’ which isn’t actually study plus. And this is beginning in January because our pupils are now starting KS4 in January of Y9.

There are two of us who are going to be responsible for these 51 pupils. Put basically these are the pupils who have not, for whatever reason, chosen to do a language. This means they are predominantly the less able pupils of the year group, but just looking at maths one of them is predicted and A and 5 a B grade, so the spread of ability is wide.

So far, so statistical. The real difference about this is that no curriculum has been given to us to teach. The Head has said that we should choose something that inspires us. She thinks a qualification at the end would be a good idea for some of the group. The deputy thinks that the last thing they need is another set of exams.


This is fantastic, we can choose our topics our learning styles our methods of teaching, we can go at our own pace.

This is frightening; how do we measure progress, how do we convince the girls we aren’t just filling their time or that they aren’t a sink group?

SOLO taxonomy part 2 (using it for Differentiated Learning Objectives)

Following on from two of previous posts on differentiated learning objectives and then one on SOLO taxonomy I am now trying to link the two together. All I have done is to turn SOLO from lesson outcomes to Lesson Objectives. As I type now the lesson is not taught, but I wanted to post the ideas as they stand before reality gets in their way. This lesson is being observed by the school’s new head so I am naturally keen to get it right. One of the school’s new policies is that every lesson will have DIFFERENTIATED learning objectives in them. The group is an GCSE geography option group

Last week I took the pupils to Bath and Bath university to investigate transport problems and solutions there. This lesson was to ensure that they organise what they saw and heard so that they can see how it fits in with the syllabus and exam questions they may have to answer. To make sure all pupils have a good idea of the main points during the day on my phone using evernote and pasted them into a word doc for their reference teacher notes from field trip

Here is the powerpoint for the lesson post Bath fieldtrip lesson powerpoint Following the map starter, the 3rd slide shows how I have changed the SOLO taxonomy from outcomes into objectives. I have taken care to mention SOLO in each lesson since I first introduced it last month so the pupils should be familiar with it by now. The 4th slide is not an actual question from the AQA A GCSE exam paper but is an adapted one from another similar question on urban sustainability. I will have one more able and one less able girl in each pair. the group is a small one but has a range of FFT predicted grades from E to A.

The 5th and 6th slides are recap from a previous lesson and from the field trip. I used the GA booklet ” GCSE Toolkit: Is the Future Sussed? A study of sustainable urban living” which can be bough for about £11 here Whilst the pupils were organising their field trip notes I plan to walk around LISTENING to what they are saying and then leave post it notes when I hear phrases I think are linked to different stages of the SOLO taxonomy. I found this list of connectives which are linked to SOLO taxonomy from Darren Mead’s excellent blog . This will then lead I hope to a discussion about the language to use in exam answers.

Then to end the lesson I will ask them to redo on their own the same exam question they attempted at the start in pairs. Following some peer assessment the lesson will then conclude with a plenary reflecting on the original lesson objectives. I will mark this second attempt at the exam question for next lesson.

Using SOLO taxonomy with my Y10s

I came accross this interesting post from taitcoles last week. In the it he explained how he had used SOLO taxonomy with a Y9 group. As you will know from my 2 previous posts i am concerned at the moment about learning objectives and specifically differentiated learning objectives. When we met as a dept we came up with some good ideas on how to deliver and present these to classes. However I noticed that all the ideas that were proposed were examples of what teachers had tried in KS3 lessons. No one had attempted any differentiated learning objectives with KS4. I can see why; if you look at the syllabus and the mark scheme there is not much differentiation in there. Well there is but levels lend themselves far more easily to setting out differentiated learning objectives.

SOLO stands for Structured Observation of Learning Outcomes. But my theory is that if theses outcomes are understood by the pupils then i can show them as the lesson objectives and they will easily allow for differentiation.

Now I just copied TaitColes idea really. I havent added much more to it. So I really recommend you read his thoughts before you plough through my attempts.

What I did

 The work on the London docklands had already been set and handed in before I read about SOLO. This link shows you the instructions I gave to my pupils (it is on my pupil blog). I had orignally planned just to hand the work back as normal marked with my comments for improvement on them. I also wanted to show them how it fitted in with the syllabus and exam question they might get so I also handed them This document too.

From now I went into new territory with SOLO. I used this powerpoint Y10 SOLO intro lesson to help them become familiar with the whole idea. It worked REALLY WELL. they quickly categorised the XFactor statements. Interestingly most of the class thought that the 4th stage (relational)  was deeper thinking than the 5th (extended abstract) as the 4th was all fact and the 5th was more opinion.

When they read through each others work intheir groups they slowly but surely began to understand the task and by the end everyone had some feedback from another pupil to reflect on.

Finally I linked the SOLO taxonomy to exam grades and showed how it wasnt until you were starting on the relational stage that you could be certain of gaining a ‘C’ grade at GCSE. It was this fact that finally nailed the usefullness of SOLO to them!

From now on I plan to start setting KS4 differentiated learning objectives based on this taxonomy. I will let you know how it goes!!

In the meantime a big thank you to @Totallywired and @learningspy for all their ideas which I have simply stolen added nothing to and used (by God I love the internet and twitter especially)