How I save time with teacher stamps


I recently informed a year 8 class that it takes me 3 hours to mark their books in one go. Some of them were a bit shocked to hear this, others maybe slightly bemused, but it definitely made them think twice about reading their feedback. 

I worked out earlier in the term that I spend 36 hours in total each term marking books. As an options subject I have 12 classes and luckily my school only ask us to mark once per term, but it still takes a super long time. I even have a 'marking' playlist that I listen to.

Like most teachers, I am asked to assess a great number of things when marking books and I was given one or two stamps to help with this by my department. I came to find using the stamps to help with assessment sped up the process and made evidencing my marking much clearer too - a win-win situation.

I gradually bought in more and more stamps from the internet as time went on. There are a great number of websites which will make them for you and personalise them all you like. Some come with their own stock aimed at teachers and I particularly like to use www.classroomcapers.com, as they're easy to use. 

Now these stamps aren't cheap (even the ones from China). Some of the larger personalised stamps were easily £20 each but it was a good investment and has improved my practice. 
To save money I bought replacement ink along with the stamps so I could easily re-ink them when they started to run dry. So far I have only had to replace the ink once or twice in the period of a year. 

Here are some of the stamps I use to save time:

SIT (strength, improvement, target) and literacy correction stamps

 
When I mark my student's work, they receive a strength, improvement and target comment. This is printed as SIT and leaves me space to write comments next to each letter. Their current/target grades go into the circles next to S and T.
I also mark my student's literacy every term and as a school there is a chart we follow, for example SP is circled when a student makes a spelling error. They will also receive a small comment explaining where the error is and how to correct it.

Giving feedback on literacy corrections in greater detail

Alongside the blue coded literacy stamp we have just looked at, I created stamps of standard responses I regularly use when marking literacy. It can be as simple as "Your spelling errors:... Please write the correct spelling 3 times." This saves me alot of time as I will often end up writing the same thing over and over and this stamp solves this problem. All I have to do is fill in the gaps.

Evidencing verbal feedback, higher ability tasks and extended learning

These are great for evidencing what you do with your class in lesson time. Verbal feedback shows I am giving feedback by speaking to my students as they make progress on their work in the lesson. Extended learning helps to identify where a student has moved on to an extension task. Thinking hard shows that my students have taken part in an activity aimed at stretching and challenging them. 

 DIRT (Dedicated improvement reflection time) and evidencing a re-mark

When a student responds to their target comment from me, they write a comment under a DIRT stamp and they usually do this in green pen. DIRT stands for "dedicated improvement reflection time" and tells the teacher what the student did that lesson to get closer to their target grade. 

Once the student has written this comment under the DIRT stamp, I check their comment and then stamp it with another stamp "Well done, you have completed your DIRT improvements" to confirm I have checked it.

At a later date I may remark their work and adjust their grade too. This is where the DIRT Remarked stamp comes in handy, as I can simply stamp their work and give them a new grade, provided they have earned it.

Peer and Self assessment tasks

The last stamp I use frequently is really useful to show assessment for learning and it makes a good mini task to break up a long lesson. Students will receive this stamp on a little paper ticket which they attach to their work. Depending on whether they are doing a PEER assessment or a SELF assessment, students will write a small paragraph to assess a particular strength or improvement focus for the task they are working on.


Stamps for the future?

I've seen some brilliant stamps in the past couple of years and I do intend to buy one or two more.  I may even create a set of colourful praise stamps for particularly strong work, as this is an area I haven't quite cracked yet within my marking. As far as stationery goes, teacher stamps are a little costly but I am hugely thankful for the time they save me when I am marking. I hope that anyone who is struggling with time management may find this post in the least useful to their teaching practice.

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