There is never enough time for a teacher to provide face to face feedback for each student for every lesson. Our time is always at a premium, but we know that feedback is key to learning, letting students know what they are doing well and where they need to improve. This year in my class, students have feedback partners to help with that.
I’ve made feedback the centerpiece of my teaching and assessing. Without feedback, students don’t know if they are on the right track or not. Sometimes, it’s as simple as handing back a paper and telling the student that everything is correct. But sometimes, it’s not simple at all. Sometimes the feedback involves reteaching and helping the student try the task again.
The most time-consuming feedback with my students involves their writing. How can I provide effective feedback for their literary analysis? I decided to enlist the help of the class. I saw a video on Teaching Channel about how a teacher did this effectively with high school students. Then, after reading Teach Like a Pirate by Paul Solarz, I thought it was worth pursuing with my fifth graders.
For the first half of the school year, I gave all the feedback. I put together strategy groups based on student needs and also worked with students individually to help them move forward with their analysis. Essentially, I modeled effective feedback over and over. Next it was time to teach the kids to do that. I reviewed this process with them and helped them to see the value of that feedback.
I surveyed the group, asking them to write the names of three kids in the class that they trusted enough to help them with their writing. I tried matching the kids up based on their preferences and it worked pretty well.
There were three parts of this lesson.
Part I: On your own, reread your paragraph and write what you did well as well as a specific item that you’d like your partner to provide feedback.
Part II: With your partner, read each other’s paragraph. Comment on and talk about only the things that your partner asked for feedback.
Part III: Revise your paragraph based on feedback and recommendations from your partner.
I will definitely make this part of our writing process. The feedback from the students themselves was very positive. They liked working with a partner to improve their writing and they all recommended that we do this again.
It’s time to let the students provide the feedback as well as receive it. When we empower our students to take more ownership of their learning, we all win.