As teachers, we live in a world of Ofsted, progress, yada yada... My own personal world is also, currently, a number of difficult classes in a new school at a difficult time of year.
Actually getting the students to engage with any kind of specific learning outcome has been difficult, and continues to be, but thanks to @kevbartle life has become a wee bit simpler. His blog on "Taxonomy of Errors" instantly struck a chord, and I've been running with it ever since.
The truth is, given the ludicrous nature of what is now expected in terms of planning and marking so continuously, getting the students to actually take ownership of their own work is important more now than ever.
Handing the job of feedback over to the students has been a steep learning curve for my own professional development (and continues to be), but I feel it's absolutely crucial to trust students with providing their own feedback, not least if they are going to even begin to care about their own progress in real terms, and not the hijacked, reductionist sense of the term that people seem to be so hung up on nowadays.
What is Taxonomy of Errors?
Basically, a list of a range of errors that students can make in a piece of writing/work, from more basic to more complex.
How do you use it?
Basically, give the different levels of errors to the students, and they mark their own work (or peer assess)
An example of my own use is whilst studying the reading unit for WJEC. We looked at a question whereby the interviewer was was surprised by what they found when they met a celebrity. I was able to give the students a taxonomy of the errors that I found from a previous reading answer in their books, which was powerful, in that the students had been shown the image above, reminding them not to make the same mistake twice... (see the slideshow below for the example!)
Why do I love it so much?
- It forces me to think clearly about the success criteria I have in mind for a genuinely quality piece of work
- It helps the students recognise mistakes as an important part of the process, rather than an excuse to switch off- whether a mistake is not writing enough or not subtly interlinking various pieces of evidence, having a tangible aim is essential to keep students invested in the process
- It forces me to hand over to the students more- and trust them with taking their progression into their own hands
- It encourages a sharing culture and a common vocabulary amongst students, and gives them a framework in terms of what work requires if it is to be improved
- It's extremely flexible- it can be used pre assessment (although I would recommend after students are familiar with it) to make students aware of what they need to avoid doing, or just simply used to tack on to a piece of homework, for instance, to supplement independence
- It can be differentiated to suit any level of student- I have used it and it was amazing to see the transformation of a group of year 8 students with targets as low as level 1s, for example, as well as a higher ability year 9 class with level 6/7 targets- students can be spotting missing capitals or a lack of coherence over an entire piece of written work
- It provides me with a frame of reference when verbally feeding back to students, and sharpens the process as well, enabling me to move on and help other students