Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Day 14: What is feedback for learning, and how well do you give it to students?

This is always my biggest weakness as a teacher. When it comes to reading and writing, the time that is required to give that one-on-one feedback to 7th graders that they need is daunting. Due to lack of time and large classes, you have to get creative in finding ways to work it in. I think feedback for learning means not just communicating to a student what they did well or what they are struggling with but to then allow time for students to take that feedback and put it into practice. I believe feedback should be part of the learning process and not something that is given at the end. Students crave feedback as they are figuring things out and need guidance along the way. They appreciate the chance to utilize that feedback before they earn a grade and are surprised by what they needed to work more on.

Instead of listing all the various ways I've given feedback in the past, I'll focus instead on the ways this year  I plan to give it to my 111 students. This year will be a challenge but knowing what I know about what has worked in the past, I know that I must make the time for it. Lord knows the time won't magically be added to my teaching day. In order to make the time, I have tried to pare down some of the work my kids will create to not only give me time to respond but to give them time to rework and revise.

The first tool I am using more is my electronic grade book. We are now able to write notes next to assignments to clarify a grade. I think this feedback will not inform my students but hopefully will empower parents to see what literacy skills they might be able to work on at home. This could be through conversation about movie or encouraging their writing at home.

I plan on continuing to use Google Docs with my students, which allows for written comments to be added to a piece of writing. In addition to this, I am going to try the app Kaizena. Much like a Google Doc comment, Kaizena allows you to leave feedback on a draft but in the form of voice recorded comments. I hope that this won't be too time consuming, but I think it will benefit my students to hear me explain something versus reading my explanation.  We'll see!

At the end of the day, it is in having a conversation with a student that I think ultimately benefits a student in making progress. While I feel I struggle with giving feedback, I know that I am doing the best I can. This might never be something I truly master, but it is the part of my craft that I constantly reflect and work on each year.

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