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Feedback For and From Students Adds Authenticity

by Taylor Meredith
 | Apr 14, 2015

For my students, a critical step in increasing student ownership was establishing effective feedback, as it is has some of the greatest effects on student achievement, according to John Hattie, author of Visible Learning. Practicing effective self-reflection and feedback methods allows authentic student ownership to take place. We followed the National Council of Teachers of English’s definition of formative feedback as nonevaluative, specific, timely, related-to-learning goals and providing opportunities for students to revise and improve work products and deepen understandings. Through that, we began an action research project examining a structure for success and to normalize the culture of feedback centered on student engagement and ownership.

Establishing a structure for success

  1. Create a class definition of effective feedback (thoughtful, focused on the aim, and bite sized)
  2. Exchange verbal feedback during the share portion of lessons.
  3. Provide opportunities to ask for peer or teacher feedback while working.
  4. Model effective feedback practices consistently. This includes providing feedback forms for colleagues who visit our classroom, sharing feedback stories, and celebrating when students ask for feedback and revise work following feedback.
  5. Prioritize time to practice authentic feedback opportunities. Students are able to revise their work following feedback, further driving home the point that feedback is here to make us better—not to make us feel bad or point out inaccuracies or gaps in knowledge, but to move us forward as stronger learners and citizens.

Authentic feedback opportunities became a game changer in engagement and ownership for our classroom.

Normalize the culture of feedback

Feedback Friday began during a time in our class when students worked on self-directed learning projects (think Genius Hour). Feedback Friday content was different each week and included individual growth goals, specific academic work, and behavior reflections. The process remained the same each week, with an exchange including one thing that was working or successful and one thing to consider or try next time.

But here is what made all the difference—I also received feedback during Feedback Friday. Students could use the feedback form from my folder to give me written, anonymous feedback, or they could give me verbal feedback during an individual conversation. Providing structure with the option of a feedback form and a time specifically dedicated to feedback was necessary. We were able to plan, prepare, and reflect together.

Reflection

Although we took steps to create a structure supporting this work, I received nothing but compliments and praise the first week. I continued to model my own self-reflection in order to move this process forward. I pointed out things I would have changed, things I could make better, things I thought could work differently. I called my shots by giving students specific things to watch for while I was teaching and identified two or three specific areas where I wanted to grow. The next week, feedback changed. The positive feedback that I was given was more specific—it was about instructional strategies, texts we had read, and classroom procedures. However, the most significant change was the growth feedback I received.

Students suggested new seating arrangements and that I implement cold call more often. They wanted me to consider different check-in procedures for homework and new uses for our 1:1 devices. Then came the most critical step. In order for this to work—for it to be a true exchange of feedback—I had to act. Susan Brookhart and Connie Moss describe this as the golden second opportunity for revision in Advancing Formative Assessment in Every Classroom: A Guide for Instructional Leaders. In order for students to feel empowered and to feel ownership over our classroom and their learning, in order for students to see and feel the value of feedback, I had to revise my practice following their feedback.

Revision

Eventually, Feedback Friday evolved from a concrete, scheduled part of our week to an embedded part of daily practice. Knowing their voices were always heard improved engagement and ownership in all of my students. Independently, students were self-reflecting and asking for feedback on all work whether small (Does this image make sense here?) or large (Did I arrange these reasons in sequence to create a compelling argument?). Students were offering one another feedback (I really liked how you unpacked that text evidence.) and following up on work they knew their classmates were doing (What information did you end up using from that article?). My practice continued growing as well. I was able to make small, significant changes to meet the needs identified by each learner (providing visual cues) and larger changes in my own instruction (improving my questioning techniques). Implementing Feedback Friday was truly a game changer for all of us.

Taylor Meredith is a Chicago-area instructional coach and former fifth-grade teacher. A graduate of Syracuse University, Taylor has a degree in Policy Studies from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and received a master’s degree from Hunter College while a member of New York City Teaching Fellows. Passionate about student ownership of learning and thinking, action research, formative feedback, and theory of mind, she learned from the best while teaching special education at a public school in East Harlem, NY. Connect with Taylor on Twitter or at The Formative Feedback Project.

 

1 comment

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  1. Kimberly | Jun 21, 2016
    this sounds fantastic!  I am interested in digging deeper into formative feedback loops with my class next year.  I am curious about your feedback folders.  Do you have examples of your forms available?  

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