20 ways to cut your grading time in half

“20 ways to cut your grading time in half” was an article that caught my eye, however it was the name of the blog that further piqued my curiosity, the “Cult of Pedagogy”.


Jennifer Gonzalez, the Editor in Chief of the Cult of Pedagogy is quick to point out that it isn’t actually a cult, but an online collection of blogs, podcasts, videos and resources, run by a team of people committed to “making you more awesome in the classroom”. Gonzalez started blogging in 2013 and has amassed a range of strategies and learning conversations to support teachers.


“20 ways to cut your grading time in half” is simply a collection of ideas to mix and match to help cut back on the time you spend grading student work. Some of the strategies will work more easily in the context of Years 7 -10 or primary school, which is Gonzalez’s background, however, many will work in any teaching context.


Research tells us that feedback is key to improving student learning. Gonzales suggests that providing only feedback on a task, instead of grading, is one way to reduce time.  She uses the example of a gymnast learning a new skill, and writes that they don’t receive a score from their coach each time they attempt the skill. The learning period is about trial and error, practise and feedback. Similarly, narrowing your focus when grading so as to only assess a few skills, for example grammar or terminology, is another way to reduce time.


Gonzales asks if we can find ways in which to use some kind of shorthand, teach our students how to interpret this, and in turn reducing repeated comment writing. Along with this, having a marking station in the corner of the room, where students can go and correct their own work or even just the simple ‘see three before me’ concept, can reduce the time a teacher spends correcting class tasks.


Whilst, we cannot remove the need to assess our student’s work, we can change our approach. This article is helpful in suggesting how we can work a little bit smarter and a little less harder, but still strive to improve student learning.


For further information: https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/

Preparation is the key to good results

As #CAFS NSW students begin to think about preparing for their HSC trials, it is timely to discuss what they can do to give the exams their best shot.

1. Know the syllabus

This goes without saying. Knowing the syllabus intimately is a key component to achieving good results in CAFS (and for any other subject for that matter). Successful CAFS students demonstrate a strong interconnectedness between concepts and their application of knowledge in their exam responses. It is because of this interconnection that students, with the guidance of their teachers should examine the relationship between the ‘Learn about’ and ‘Learn to’ objectives.

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How SAAFE are your PE lessons?

Although the health benefits of participating in regular physical activity are extensive, the majority of young Australians are not sufficiently active. The pandemic of ‘physical inactivity’ is not only influencing our health, but also our hip pocket, with global estimates suggesting in excess of US$50 billion is being spent on health care related to inactivity. So how do we encourage our kids to become more active now and provide them with motivation, knowledge, skills and confidence to be active for life?

In February this year, the Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition at the University of Newcastle, in collaboration with the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education at Australian Catholic University and the Psychology of Exercise, Health and Physical Activity Laboratory at the University of British Columbia, published a research article (which can be found online here) describing the SAAFE (Supportive, Autonomous, Active, Fair, and Enjoyable) teaching principles.

The principles were designed to provide specialist and non-specialist PE teachers with an easy-to-follow framework for delivering high quality learning experiences in the physical domain. They are not ‘rocket science’, but they are based on international research that has explored strategies to increase young people’s motivation and activity levels in PE, community sport and after school programs.

The principles were originally developed for use in the SCORES (Supporting Children’s Outcomes using Rewards, Exercise and Skills) physical activity intervention for primary school children. The SCORES intervention successfully increased children’s physical activity, fitness and fundamental movement skills over a 12-month period. The SAAFE principles are now being used in the iPLAY program, which builds on the success of SCORES.

The SAAFE principles have also been used by secondary school teachers with adolescents. So far, about 200 teachers from across NSW have been provided with training to deliver the NEAT and ATLAS programs, which use the SAAFE principles to teach resistance training skills. In our next project, we will use the SAAFE principles to support the delivery of high intensity interval training (HIIT) with senior school students.

So, what is the secret to creating ‘SAAFE’ physical activity sessions? How can you ensure that every member of your class or team is active and engaged?

Image: Overview of the SAAFE teaching principles

1. Be SUPPORTIVE in your teaching. Take the perspective of the students, provide a rationale for what you are doing, create meaningful connections, use language that is not strict or controlling, and demonstrate emotional support or involvement. Examples: Provide individual skill specific feedback; provide praise on student effort and improvement.

2. Maximise opportunities for individuals to be physically ACTIVE by including high levels of physical activity and minimal transition time. Examples: Avoid elimination games; play multiple mini games to maximise student involvement.

3. Create an AUTONOMOUS environment by providing students with choice and offering graded tasks. Examples: Allow students to choose the music within the lesson; involve students in the modification of the activities/rules.

4. Design and deliver FAIR lessons by providing all students with opportunities to experience success in the physical domain. Examples: Ensure students are evenly matched in activities; encourage self-comparison rather than peer-comparison.

5. Provide an ENJOYABLE experience, as people tend to persist with activities they find intrinsically motivating. Examples: Start and conclude session with an enjoyable activity; do not use exercise as punishment.

Leading this conversation is Professor David Lubans, ARC Future Fellow and Theme Leader of the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Schools theme at the Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition at the University of Newcastle. Professor Lubans is extremely passionate about re-engaging children and teens in physical education, through the design and delivery of innovative school-based programs and teacher education initiatives. He believes that the SAAFE principles are an essential component imbedded within the interventions he creates and delivers, and that all teachers should be provided with the knowledge and training to include these principles within their lessons.

Would you like to know more about the SAAFE Teaching Principles? Search for the “Health and Fitness for Teens Workshop” on MyPL. It is a one day, BOSTES accredited professional learning workshop delivered by the Department of Education in collaboration with Professor Lubans and his research team.

Improving performance in PDHPE and CAFS

Improving performance in both PDHPE and CAFS (and any other subject area) involves adopting a variety of different strategies to support and grow student learning. These strategies can be based around learning activities, groupings, types of assessment tasks, exam techniques or even feedback provided to students.

Student feedback has been recognised as one of the greatest influences on student performance and improvement in research conducted on both the influences of student achievement (Hattie) and embedding formative assessment (Wiliam).

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Getting to know your students

At the beginning of a new school year it is timely for PDHPE teachers (and all teachers in education, including those who teach Community and Family Studies, Exploring Early Childhood and Child Studies!) to think about how they are going to create positive relationships with their students.

PDHPE teachers all know too well about the importance of building positive relationships with their students, especially because of the sensitive nature of the issues and content that is explored in PDHPE classrooms. 

There are four main areas of suggestion for teachers to get know their students:

1. Names

Learn student names quickly. This could be done by giving the students name tags or a seating plan in the first few weeks or by being more creative by playing a rhyming game or sharing characteristics of their personality or traits. For example, Kinaesthetic Kelly. This can be done as a memory game for either the class teacher or whole class. More ideas can be found here

2. Interests

Get to know what your students enjoy doing in their spare time. This allows teachers to gain information about student areas of interest which can then be incorporated into conversations and possibly classroom activities.

3. Family

Find out more about a student’s family and background. This can give teachers an insight into their family structure as well as how they might respond to aspects of the course. Be mindful that some students may not want to share too much here.

4. Goals

Have students share their short, intermediate and long term goals with the teacher and the class. This allows teachers to focus on what motivates the students and teachers can work with them on reaching some of those goals. 

It can also be worthwhile to create class expectations together, where students and their teachers get to share what they expect of each other. This allows both parties to have clear expectations of each other, rather than just having class rules set by the teacher.

The following ‘Ten Things to Know About Me’ could even be used:

1. These things interest me

2. When I have free time I like to

3. When I’m at school I would rather work independently or in cooperative learning groups

4. I learn best when

5. I can’t learn when

6. One learning experience I would like to suggest this year is

7. My favourite subject at school is

8. Words that best describe me are

9. Here are three things that are special about my family

10. One goal I have for this year is …

Teachers, departments and whole schools can also survey their students about all of these areas. This is something that has been done at Nagle College over the last few years where surveys are sent to students via email at the end of the school year and are filled in during homeroom, Pastoral Care or at home. Teachers then get a copy of all survey responses on a spreadsheet at the beginning of the following school year to get to know their students better.

We would love for you to share more of your strategies in getting to know your students via social media on Facebook and Twitter (@ACHPERNSW) using our hashtag #achpernsw

Yours in health and wellbeing,

Kelly Bell

Nagle College, Blacktown South, NSW

President of ACHPER NSW