Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Thoughts About Feedback

My guess is that when we first start talking about feedback in the classroom, we probably see it as a teacher-driven activity. The students do something and we tell them if it is right, wrong, or how to fix it. In reading the Pollack book (put it on your Christmas list!) they focus a lot on students receiving feedback from peers and feedback from themselves. Those were two scenarios that I had difficulty wrapping my brain around. Here are some thoughts of mine and from the book:

Feedback From Peers

When I first thought of this, the activity that came to my mind was students doing peer-reviews of papers. That is a great activity, but not utilized daily in every classroom. Further, feedback needs to be timely, personal, and specific. That one activity is not very timely.

So what can we do?

Asking/Answering Questions:  When asking a question, rather than asking it of one student ("Kelly, what is the capital of Nebraska?") ask it of the ENTIRE class. Provide a few seconds of wait-time, and then have the kids pair/share. By doing this, a few scenes might play out. First, the partners might agree and they will have increased confidence in their answer. Second, the partners might disagree and then they would have to discuss how they each arrived at their answer and have to decide which is the correct answer. Third, one partner might turn to the other with absolutely no clue and might gain the correct answer from their partner. Finally, both might be clueless and could raise their hand for a little coaching from the teacher or use the APL "Temporary Pass Option."

Objective Reflection Sheet and Sharing With A Partner: Another pair/share activity, but hey, it is powerful and quick! The kids write the day's objective and then rate their understanding of that objective (1-5). While this alone provides great self-feedback, adding a pair/share element opens the door for a conversation as to why their understanding is where it is. Hopefully, students would say something that might break-loose some details they forgot or missed that would raise the understanding level of one or both instantly.

Sharing Notes: Many of us have our students take notes, and certainly we all have taken notes before. How many times have we looked at our notes and asked "Why did I write that?"? As a processing activity, have students share their notes with a partner. In this activity, kids would have to justify why they wrote what they wrote. Also, the partner might point out something missed, or pick up items they missed themselves. Again, this doesn't have to take long at all and would be one of those activities you could do after 10 minutes of instruction.

Feedback From Self

I have a lot of conversations with myself…maybe I need help…but what if it was planned and organized? 

Interactive Notebooks: When taking notes, have students use a normal spiral-bound notebook. The right page is for the student to write the notes from the teacher. The left page is for the student to reflect on the notes they have written. There is where they paraphrase, draw pictures, write power sentences, or do some processing activity that brings greater meaning to their notes. Again, they are asking and answering the question "Do my notes make sense to me?".

Objective Reflection Sheet: By rating their understanding, effort, and motivation regarding the day's objective, the student is gaining feedback from themselves. "How much do I understand?" "How hard am I trying?" "How motivated am I to learn about this?" Then there are the follow up questions: "Why don't I understand?" "Could I try harder?" and "Why am I not as motivated to learn this?"

Here is a link to the Reflection Sheet. If you aren't a member of my school district, you can email me and I will be glad to send you a copy!

"Fist-To-Five": This signaled response is a great check of the student's understanding. After going over a topic, instead of asking the entire class "Does this make sense?" ask them to rate their understanding on a "fist-to-five" continuum with 5 being high and fist being low. This is better than the "thumbs-up/thumbs-down" technique as it gives you more information. Students can use the following Understanding Rubric:

Understanding Rubric
5. I could teach the class!
4. I can talk about it with classmates.
3. I know it but I have questions.
2. I somewhat understand it.
1. I have no idea!

This rubric is the same one used with the Reflection Sheet mentioned above. You can download both here. If you aren't a member of my school district, just email me and I will be glad to send you a copy.

There are so many other techniques that can be used for both peer feedback and self feedback. What do you do? Please share!

Have a happy day!

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