This past week I had the chance to go into a 2nd grade classroom and help facilitate a couple of lessons on feedback. The students practiced sharing "warm" and "cool" feedback in order to help make someone's work better. In this case, we used name cards as our product. They were a safe and accessible way to practice using the language of feedback that students will later employ as part of a peer revision process in writing. The guidelines are simple. Students must be kind, specific, and helpful when giving feedback to a peer. They first practiced sharing what they liked - giving "warm" feedback. Rather than simply saying, "It's pretty," we discuss focusing in on a detail that made it pretty and explaining why. The student feedback quickly elevated to, "The extra lines on the R are pretty," or "I love the color you chose for the A because it is bright and colored carefully." Next, we practiced giving "cool" feedback. The students were able to focus in on specific details in order to generate ideas that might help the designer. For example, one student pointed to the base of the R on one of the name cards and said, "What if you added a line at the bottom here like you have on the rest of your letters?" Wow! What attention to detail! And this was a 2nd grader!
After practicing as a whole group, the students then partner up. They were told that they must focus on giving kind, specific, and helpful feedback that will help the designer make their name card easier to read. That's the point of a name card, afterall.
Here are a couple of examples of the improvements students made using feedback from their classmates. What kind, specific, helpful feedback do you imagine these students received that led them to improve their name cards and make the names easier to read?
After our session, they had a poetry share. When it came time for comments the students began to share what they liked. Their teacher then directed them to remember the feedback guidelines they had just learned - be kind, specific, and helpful. They instantly made their feedback specific. Instead of saying, 'Your picture is pretty," they now had the tools to say, "The color you used on the girl's T-shirt really stands out." Now that student knows that is something they should try again. This simple feedback can go a long way. Not only can it be utilized in peer revision, but it may even help facilitate those interpersonal conversations children engage in everyday. When students learn to give and receive feedback, they begin to learn a valuable lesson about life and learning. Having the tools to communicate and help themselves and their classmates can be very empowering.
I also think this is an easy lesson that can make us more effective as educators. Think about the feedback you give your students? Is it kind, specific, and helpful? When we write "Awesome!" on a paper, what is that really communicating to a child? When we say, "your child is a 24," what does a parent gain from that? How can we make these simple interactions more informative? Keep this in mind as you move forward with the wonderful work you do this week. And if anyone is interested in facilitating a session on feedback, please let me know.
Austin's Butterfly - Check out this amazing lesson in effective feedback taught by Ron Berger of Expeditionary Learning Schools. You'll never believe what drafting, receiving feedback, and revising enable this first grader to do! P.S. I have the resources in this video if anyone is interested in getting their students started practicing how to give feedback.
Feedback in Schools - Feedback falls in the top 10 most influential factors on a child's achievement, according to the research of John Hattie. Check out this article for some more thoughts on the feedback we as educators give to our students.
It's September. Don't Worry, Teaching Gets Better. For those of you feeling the back to school crunch, here are some words of encouragement from Angela Watson of The Cornerstone teaching blog.
I am an elementary instructional coach for the Sioux Falls School District.