This is Part 1 of a series on effective feedback.
Snacking has a bad reputation. But done right, snacks give energy, motivation, and oomph. As you travel the room observing student work in progress, wanting to give meaningful feedback “snacks” in short bursts, what’s the best approach?
What’s the right amount of “nutrition”? If the goal is growth, then honest, specific, and formative feedback about the latest iteration or a summative work will help students do better while also creating a growth culture mindset in your classroom.
How do you handle feedback when you travel your classroom? Share with us below!
Here are some tips–not necessarily the end-all, be-all, FDA guidelines for feedback nutrition–BUT they can lead to better student health with performance and perhaps even less stress on you when it comes to knowing what to say.
Try these guidelines below when writing notes and narratives, when conducting conferences, or when dropping by students working on an assignment.
Snack Guideline #1
- Link performance to Standards/Skill Objectives.
- Link the feedback you give to the standards and skill objectives/success criteria) on your rubrics. Funny how we abandon the recipe sometimes while snarfing the snack! Make sure the performance assessment prioritizes those outcomes and riffs off rubric language. Even a walk-by comment can be substantive if you keep it geared to the goals.
- If the student is beyond these goals and exceeded the highest level of the rubric, make notes about improving the prompt and rubric for next time. And start looking right away for an alternative activity. Rubrics and task prompts are always a work in progress.
Snack Guideline #2
- Reference student samples of work.
- When you’re searching for a way to explain the standards and objectives of the rubric, use models from present and past classes to show students what quality work looks like and discuss what quality truly is. As you discuss with students what a Successful performance or Exemplary performance looks like, ask students to give you the concrete details they see in the models that will inform their own work when they attempt an assignment.
- Don’t view the rubric as a stand-alone and the only expression of quality and standards. The rubric makes the most sense to students when they can discuss models alongside it. Once you have models of student work, you can improve your rubric. If you are attempting a new assignment, you can revise the rubric and give students the updated version before they do a round of revisions on their work.
Snack Guideline #3
- Focus on work, skills, and effort demonstrated by the student.
- Obvious–right? Maybe not so much. But really digging into what the student has just produced can be harder sometimes, when we work in a culture that tends to speak in glowing generalities.
- Don’t focus on the individual’s aptitude or perceived ability by using phrases such as “You’re so gifted.” It’s better to refrain from praising general ability, which can make a student think success or progress is automatic instead of earned, and instead, focus on their work on the work.
- Compare students’ work to the Successful and Exemplary levels of Outcomes and Skill Objectives.
- As you continue to link to the standards and success criteria you established via your rubric, focus on a student’s personal best as it compares to the successful and exemplary standards you’ve set.
- Don’t compare students to peers. While a little competition can’t hurt in games and activities, and can be all in good fun, don’t use the individualized feedback as a place to compare a student’s work to the class’ overall performance or other students’ performance.
How can our “feedback snacks” to students be nutritious and set us up to get back to work? Performance tasks tiered to gifted students’ readiness levels deserve meaningful feedback and if we have a few simple guidelines, it can be a diet and routine that becomes second nature for the busy educator traveling those classroom miles.
The nutrition of standards and student work samples, coupled with a healthy moderation of portioning–only focusing on the student’s work and its life compared to the standards–will result in a feedback snack that goes for miles.
Ideas and concepts adapted and modified from resources at The Australian Society for Evidence-Based Teaching.