Wednesday, December 14, 2016


Adding to Theresa's post from last week...

Feedback is important.  Some one say it is a (the?) key to learning.  For students, timely and constructive feedback is everything.  Students appreciate receiving personalized comments and individualized responses.  High quality feedback directly correlates to high quality assessments.
"Feedback helps us learn from our mistakes.  It reveals new perspectives and options you might not have explored otherwise."  - Natalie, grade 10
This article from Edutopia quickly explains how, when, and why to give students feedback.  Its key points are:

  1. Be constructive, kind, and specific.  Start with what's working, critique without scolding, and be relevant.
  2. Reflect, then revise.  Try handing back assignments with JUST comments, which sort of forces students to read them instead of just glancing at the grade.
  3. Be timely.  Provide feedback within 24-48 hours so it keeps its context.
Several of the educational technology pieces we use offer opportunities to give high quality feedback.  To name a few:
Of course, traditional methods work well too!  Handwritten comments and individual conversations go a long way with all students.

Do you give high quality feedback in other ways?  Leave a comment and let us know!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Feedback vs. Grades

Joe gets 100% on his project.  Sara got a 60%.  What is the difference?

Within the classroom, I have seen teachers that give back scores and allow time to meet with students to discuss and give feedback on why they received the score that they did.  We are moving into an age where instead of the percentage being the focus, the feedback will be the focus.

Giving continual and consistent feedback is much more time-consuming than giving a percentage grade, but it is also much more meaningful.  It encourages the student to grow, seeing the skills or concepts where they are proficient and focusing their efforts on the areas where they are struggling.

Project-based learning lends itself to assessment via feedback.  It allows for a continual process of improvement, getting input from the teacher, making small edits, growing into the best and most polished example of the student’s ability.  This also strengthens the student’s “soft skills:” communication, collaboration, adaptability, reflection.

Have you ever told a student that they are really smart?  I’m guilty.  But this feedback isn’t enough.  How are they smart?  What made me believe that?  Is intelligence able to be ranked?  Instead of giving this general feedback, what else could we say?  See this link for some ideas.

We have some amazing examples of teachers already implementing this idea in our district, from the World Language Department using proficiency-based grading (see below for resources), to the standards-based report cards at the elementary level, to the shift from quizzes and tests to project-based learning.  

As the workplace becomes an environment that focuses on “projects” and collaboration, I hope you will continue to feel inspired and encouraged to move away from traditional assessment and embrace a more modern and meaningful approach by giving feedback.

For some ideas, check out this article from Edutopia.


Language department proficiency based “grading” system resources