Sunday, September 14, 2014

Feedback for Learning

I took a break from the Reflective Teacher Blog Challenge yesterday to blog about time management in my flipped classroom. Please go check it out if you're following #reflectiveteacher; it is very much a reflective post!

Today's prompt from TeachThought is:
"What is feedback for learning, and how well do you give it to students?"

Feedback is more than a grade.  In my view, feedback is letting students know - specifically - where they are missing the mark and what they can do to improve.

Before this year, I did not do very well at providing feedback to students.  While I would mark papers and make notes to students where appropriate, sometimes papers were not graded in a timely manner. And even if they were graded in a timely manner - and students knew their grades, either by my calling them up and showing them the paper (then keeping the paper due to waiting on absent students to make up the work) or by them checking their grades online - I was the world's WORST at handing papers back to students.  When I would finally pass out papers, I would hear more than student say, "WHEN did we do this?!?!?"

If students even remembered doing the assignments, there was no opportunity to learn from them.

The year is young (students completed 5 weeks Friday), but things are much, much better.

I am better at looking at and marking formative assessments (they don't get a grade; they are for my and my students' information).  In my collaborative classes, my partner teacher will pull groups of students who had difficulty with the material and reteach.

I try to make notes on students' papers as I grade, not just marking problems wrong but telling students what they did wrong and how to correct it.  I find, though, that students don't always find these notes useful. If they read them at all.

The biggest difference in feedback for my students this year is due to my new retake/redo policy.  If students choose to redo an assignment, they want specifics about how to correct their work.

When a student wants to retake a test, they have to correct their first test.  They have to interpret any notes I've made on the test and ask questions if they need clarification.  They also have to do some extra practice; for the last test I gave, their options were extra practice problems and/or rewatching videos. Students who wanted to retake the test would bring their test to me, I would look over the test and say, " these problems" or, "Rewatch this video and retake the notes."  I found it very effective.

The retake policy has forced encouraged me to grade and return papers in a few days, while students still remember what the assignment or test was about.

And what I think I've discovered is that the best feedback is given and received through conversation. Face-to-face, one-on-one conversation.  I get to have those conversations during the "mini-conferences" with students who want to retake a test, and I'm getting to have many more of these feedback conversations with students daily due to the flipped classroom and better formative assessments.

I can't wait to see the impact of such feedback on my students' learning.

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