Even if they forgot to bring it to school, have no printer/ink/credit etc. (we’ve all heard the excuses), with the internet being readily available in homes, schools and libraries there is no longer any excuse for your students not to hand their homework or coursework in on the day of a given deadline. If a student turns up without their work, I just ask, “Do you have the internet?”. Students are always happy to reply with an “Of course” ( with a ‘don’t be ridiculous this is the 21st century’ smirk on their face) I then add “Do you have an email address? Do you know how to attach files?” Again, they reply with a confident “of course”. It’s at this point that I tell them to email it to me by 6pm that day. It’s also at this point that those who have been telling me little white lies will go a pale and mutter “ok” reluctantly. (and we get to smirk instead *cue inner evil laughter* )


Comments around a Macbeth Essay

Comments around a Macbeth Essay

Yes, you can accept their homework or coursework by email and yes it is even possible to mark it in Word and email it back. Saving trees and giving students very clear steps to follow to improve their work. There have been several occasions where I have taught a student who has been struggling with their coursework and they have found this method of working a real help. They email me a draft, I add comments in the way I am about to show you and then sent it right back to them. If you allow, second and third drafts start to appears and this extra help is really appreciated when their grades start to rise as a result.


Of course, it is also handy to have a digital copy of work so that if it is ever lost you always have something in your email inbox folder for emergencies and you’ve got a copy of all of their drafts if you ever need to show the progress that they are making.

In this example I am using Microsoft Word 2010.  For instructions using Office 07 please click here.

To add comments to the text you’re marking you’ll need to use the “Review” ribbon.

The Review Ribbon Word 2010

The Review Ribbon Word 2010


Before we start let’s check our Review settings…

You might want to share these with your students too.

In the review ribbon your settings should like this:


Review Settings


In the top menu you need to select “Original: Show Markup

In the “Show Markup” setting make sure that everything is ticked and in the balloons menu choose “Show only comments and Formatting Balloons”




To use the comments simply highlight the specific sentence you want to comment on (by holding your left mouse button over the words and dragging) and Add New Commentthen click the “new comment” icon; this will place a bracket around the words you want to comment upon and add a comment bubble to the right of your page. Simply type into this bubble.  Your students will be able to see exactly which phrase or word you are commenting on.


Deleting comments as you go

Deleting comments as you go


You’ve created a tick list of tasks that they can delete as they go! As they work through the comments all they have to do is right click and choose “delete comment”.



Students like this very precise way of marking for several reasons.
1.    They know exactly which bit you’re talking about
2.    The get feedback faster and feel like they’re editing rather than rewriting (most of the time!)
3.    They can delete your comments as they go, making sure that they address each point in turn.


Give it a go and let us know how you get on!



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