Live marking – what, why and how to do it

Marking is a key part of being a teacher. You couldn’t do without it, nor would you want to. It’s one of the most revealing and effective ways to tell where your students are with their learning and what you can do to help them.

However, the idea that marking has to take you ages, that it has to be a mountainous job which involves lugging stacks of books to and from school is wrong, ineffective and overwhelming.

I did a poll on Twitter, which although in no way scientific, said that 36% of us mark for more than four hours outside of school each week. That’s half a full day’s work, on top of everything else.




If this sounds like something you do, then live marking could save you time. Give it a try and see how you get on.


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Interested in education, writing and creativity? Join my mailing list here.

What is live marking?

Live marking (for me anyway) is marking while in the lesson. In addition to saving time, it’s great because it means I can give students direct, honest and relevant feedback which can be instantly acted on – as opposed to green pen time two weeks later when the task’s been forgotten.

It means you can praise or encourage instantly, and check those who are a bit workshy are doing what they are supposed to.

For formal assessments, I’ll still mark out of lesson time and give structured formal feedback – but for books, live marking is great.

How to do it?

As the proverb goes, there are many ways to skin a cat – but here’s what I do. When planning the lesson I’ll give students a task that lasts around 20 minutes, while they are doing this I’ll sit at a desk at the front and call them up one by one and go through the work they have done in the last couple of lessons. Here I can give verbal feedback, prompting and set individual “finish this off” homework if necessary.

Of course, this doesn’t work in all lessons and situations, but it could save you time, and that makes it worth trying.

Making a habit of it

As with anything in teaching, it’s all about habit. To start with, your students may find that strange, but they’ll get to know that they have to justify their work (or lack thereof) to you personally – and that’s powerful. They’ll also know that things like drawing in books are picked up and neatness is praised.


Have you tried live marking?

Do you have any other tips for saving time on marking?


The Healthy Teacher Project
The Healthy Teacher Project

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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