Homework:effective Feedback + Real Applications

Diagnostic Questions - Instant Feedback for teachers, focused discussion points, automatically generated reports for record-keeping and/or sharing with students and/or (later) parents

This year I've got maybe the most motivated foundation/higher (core/extended as we do IGCSE) classes that I've had so far  in my teaching career, criteria = they will work independently and effectively on for the full (almost the full, we're all human) 60 minutes, as I circulate helping student-to-student or group-to-group.

We started online learning Monday, so I ensured I had questions and full worked solutions ready for the three knowledge levels present in this class (covering a wide range) as I used a "differentiation by task" approach this week.

Problematic: when we moved to online learning Monday, I set the three slightly different tasks (for the three different groups - but all on same general topic: volume & surface area) and then, organically(simultaneously, on their own initiative(lots of 'gamers' in this class may have contributed to that (or not, as is happening in most classes, from colleague's feedback) i.e. used to doing it when 'gaming'), they formed small working groups of 2 to 4 people, on instagram, Discord etc.

  • We agreed a "check-in" time where one person from each 'working group' would feedback key questions they strugggled with so I could "share screen" and go over it with them.
  • I was online the full hr to field any questions.

Only two students really asked a significant number of questions (the one pushing for B, maybe A if he keeps going like this), the rest, at check-in, told me what set of questions and qu number they were on and any questions that they'd needed help from solutions for etc.

So, teacher's dream situation/class! - and theses updates showed really good progress -> but due to the lack of questions, after two lessons I was concerned whether or not they were really understanding as much as their feedback suggested they were (they absolutely could be, but I wanted to check).

Mymaths didn't have the full range/focus of question I wanted, which made me think back to Craig Barton's: Diagnostic questions. Wow, very interesting . . here begins, I think, a year's experiment using these. I've been subscribed to this website for over a year (maybe two years) but, as for many of us, due to already having many resources and an effective system in place, I hadn't take the time to look again. I think this is going to be particularly useful during this 'online learning' world experiment . . and beyond (hwk as a yearly revision course idea from Dani Quinn's - Part2: Michaela School, Behaviour, Drills, Culture interview with Mr Barton peaked my interest when I listend for the first time in late 2019 (produced in 2017)).

I prefer to always "learn by doing" when I find a new website i.e. experiment and see what the options on offer are and trial each button to see what it does. However, I found this guide was effectively organised to get a quick overview of what you can do with this website.


This year, I got some concrete confirmation that I have been setting a lot of homework relative to colleagues, and spending hours a week (over years!) giving feedback.
Key point: Based on (I)GCSE and IB exam results,
this additional time commitment from students and I appears to have resulted in little/no discernable improvement in student outcomes'

Examples of Question, student input box for "reasoning behind answer" (they can just click through without filling this in or select an "I guessed" option) and 'test result' with a very useflu 'Review' box to review their mistakes and see the correct answer.

I always aim to give one to four targets, and one or two things they've done well. I type them in Managebac last 2/3 yrs to ensure reading my handwriting isn't the issue (and annotate their work with the related corrections/highlights). Conclusion: (i) students don't read my comments or, (ii) do read them but don't understand them, or (iii) do read them, understand them, but don't then act on them. Whatever the reasons, this has cost a huge amount of time with little return (I now have concrete confirmation for) except, no doubt, improving the depth of my knowledge about the variety of student interpretations/understanding etc.)

I needed to change what I've been doing.

I've just set up Classes via Diagnostic questions - so I've not used it and have no evidence, nor even experience to go on yet, but I think diagnostic questions looks like it does what I've been trying to do, manually (and very time consumingly) for years.
When I read the biographies of anyone who's ever been recognised as 'good 'at anything (whatever the domain) I always find they have done  a lot, lot more of that thing than anyone/ 99% of other people (I accept, that they probably also have, because they found they 'loved it' so much/ 'overwhelming desire/drive' to get good at it, or had a 'comparative advantage' over others/ a 'talent' for it(whatever definition of 'talent' you may prefer) in this area 'a priori'). Based on this, I struggle to accept that hwk doesn't = improvement, but obviously the approach I've been using hasn't been effective

The automacy, report generation (to put students in front of the facts (help me to see more clearly/keep track of strengths and weaknesse time effectively!) and help their parents also to see clearly what needs doing to help support their child reach their aims) excites me . . but only the next few months (year) will give me a time period long enough to see if I can martial it to helping contribute to achieving a significant impact on my classes.

Covid Data G8 Activity (data from WHO (updated daily & downloadable!))

Covid Data from WHO updated daily & downloadable! - scroll down a little to the links below:

Here's the task I set for students. I took some time to stress the importance of:

> Fake news - there's a lot of it online at the moment, much of it well-intentioned, but not reliable . . always double-check your sources before sharing with other people (don't be an 'active agent' in the spread of 'fake news').
> Authoritative sources of data: the more responsibility an organisation/data source has the more authoritative/trust you can place in the data they provide i.e. the WHO can't afford to not get the best data that is possible (in these circumstances) if they are to successfully prepare medically to assist and advise countries to minimise the consequences, governments will be held accountable, and compared to other governments, by their voters, the credibility and reputation of university's depends on the quality of their research etc.
> Expertise - this is a medical problem, medics and statisticians generally have the most relevant knowledge in the face of this current issue.

Save onto your computer the Covid data excel file from the Google drive folder.


  1. Make a new graph to show the below updated to today: 20th March. 

  2. What’s the same between each graph? Choose 4 countries you’d like to compare.

  3. What’s different between Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Japan and France?

  4. Which countries are having most difficulty controlling the rise?

  5. Which countries are the number of cases rising slower?

Share your answers to questions (b) to (e) on this google doc (link to shared/editable google doc)


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