Tag Archives: feedback

Peer Feedback

I have students in various grade levels working on design projects this year, and it only seemed right that they would give each other feedback.  The 4th and 5th graders were working on designing video games, and the 8th-12th grade engineering students were more than happy to play the games and critique them.  My two periods of engineering students are designing a playground for the 4/5 students, so it seemed only fair that the younger students give the older ones input on something that would ultimately impact them.  Finally, I had the engineering students give feedback to their contemporaries (in opposite classes).

In the past I’ve used graphic organizers like, “Two Stars and a Wish,”  or Glows and Grows, or deBono’s Thinking Hats.  The most success I’ve had is using Thinking Hats, but even then the feedback is often vague.

Sonya Terborg recently did a post on a tool called, “The Ladder of Feedback,”  and I decided to try it with my older students.  It has been, by far, the most successful peer feedback tool that I have seen in the classroom.  The steps on the ladder help students to consider a project more deeply, and the sentence stems were perfect prompts for the students to consider at each stage.

Sonya also mentions some other resources in her post, including a Mind/Shift post that has practical suggestions on how to guide your students through the process of crafting meaningful feedback.

If you ever wondered the age that students need to be in order to give constructive feedback to each other, Austin’s Butterfly will show you how even young children, once they have had some practice, can positively influence the outcome of a peer’s project.

One piece of advice from this article on TeachThought  that I intend to use the next time we do peer reviews is to give feedback on the feedback.  This may also encourage the students to be thoughtful on future critiques – a valuable skill in a school that focuses on Project Based Learning.

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CC image from Pixabay
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No Man is an Island With Pineapples

Our state has a new appraisal system for teachers, and goals for professional growth are a huge part of it.  Within 24 hours on the Twittersphere I came across two great suggestions for helping teachers with this process.

First, I read a post by Jennifer Gonzalez on “Cult of Pedagogy.” Jennifer describes something called a, “Pineapple Chart.”  This chart is displayed in a central location at the school such as the lounge, and gets its name from the tradition of pineapples representing hospitality.  Each week, a blank chart is hung, and teachers can fill in spots to invite the staff to observe special lessons that they are doing that may be of interest.  No one is required to invite, and it isn’t mandatory to attend.  If one does choose to (inobtrusively) pop in on one of the lessons, there is no minimum time and no responsibility to take notes.  If you think what you are teaching might be of interest, put it on the chart.  If you want to learn about something in particular, visit a teacher who can model it for you.

Not quite as casual as the Pineapple Chart is Robert Kaplinsky’s “Observe Me” sign.  (H/T to Jodi Harris for sharing this!) Teachers who hang these on their doors are also inviting people into their classrooms, but they are asking for feedback on specific goals they list on the signs.  If there isn’t time for enough people to do live observations, there is even a sign version that offers a QR code that links to videos of the teacher’s lessons.  Along with the “Observe Me” sign, some teachers even include a clipboard with copies of the rubrics used for appraising the selected goals.

Watching our colleagues teach gives us new ideas for improving our own teaching.  Getting feedback from our colleagues is also invaluable.  Both of these suggestions are wonderful ways to promote professional growth and are probably far more effective than the traditional staff development model.

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Austin’s Butterfly

My friend, Donna Lasher (@bdlasher), shared this video with me on Twitter earlier this week.  I was blown away by watching how constructive feedback from his peers was used to improve a student’s work dramatically.  In this video, you will see the power of a good critique as well as an excellent argument for giving students more time and options to do multiple drafts until they achieve mastery.  This is what Growth Mindset is all about.  (For more videos about Growth Mindset, click here.)

Screen Shot from Austin's Butterfly
Screen Shot from Austin’s Butterfly

Two Stars and a Wish

This post should be tagged, “yet more proof that I live under a rock.” Even though that’s kind of a long tag, and tags aren’t really supposed to be long. Plus, you might be disappointed if you go looking for other posts with that tag because I just thought it up.

If I were going to do “Two Stars and a Wish” on the introduction I just wrote, I might say, “I like how I added a bit of self-deprecating humor to the first sentence and how I warned people they shouldn’t waste their time searching for all of the things I don’t know, since I never thought to tag them and there are way too many.  My wish would be that I should probably explain what I’m talking about.”

Basically, “Two Stars and a Wish” is a very simple type of formative assessment that can be done peer-to-peer or as a self-assessment.  I saw the idea being used by our fabulous librarian, Angelique Lackey, when students were presenting their culminating projects on natural disasters in the library.  It seemed like such a nice way to give feedback that I immediately adopted it and told all of the students it was my idea even though they looked at me suspiciously and said, “Mrs. Lackey was using it before you.”

But it turns out neither one of us came up with the idea.  It’s apparently been around for awhile.  You can even find a bazillion ways to visually present it on Pinterest.  Go ahead and print out some labels while you’re at it.

Image from: Pinterest.com
Image from: twinkle.co.uk

I’m already trying to think of my own version of the idea, like, “Two Pickles and a Cucumber,”  or “Two Pegasuses and a Unicorn Who’s Really Bummed because he doesn’t Have Wings,” but I think should I probably keep brainstorming…

Simultaneous Back Channel/Polling App

If you are reading this post because the title excited you, I am sorry to say that I do not know of a simultaneous back channel/polling app. This post is to request your help in finding one!  I recently got a great comment on my post about using Socrative as a Back Channel.  The commenter, a professor named Lisa Halverson, asked if I knew of any way to allow students to use Socrative or any app as a back channel while also having the ability to answer polls so the teacher could get a feel for understanding.  It appears that Socrative only allows for a teacher to have one room/quiz going at a time.  I can certainly think of some roundabout ways to achieve this (see below), but does anyone know of a tool that does this with less preparation required?  If so, both Lisa and I would love to hear about it!  If not, then one of you smart developer-types needs to get right on that!

By the way, Richard Byrne just did a great post on 12 great student feedback tools that you should definitely read if you haven’t tried one or if you aren’t happy with one that you use.  As far as I can tell, though, none of these do the specific job Lisa and I require.

My roundabout solution?  (Bear with me because I am an Apple girl – not sure how Android devices would work other than that I’m pretty sure they have browsers!) I would have all students use the browser to access Socrative for real-time quick feedback questions from the teacher.  I would also have them add a second tab that has a Padlet (or even a shared Google Doc) to use as a back channel for timid students to ask questions or make comments.  If you want to get really fancy schmancy, there are several apps out there, such as this one, that will split your browser (but the free ones do have ads). Rumor has it that the next iOS might allow you to split your screen so you can use 2 different apps at the same time – but we’d still like to have it all in one!

Example of using a split screen app on the iPad.  Good news - it's free.  Bad news - it has ads.  If you are teaching college students, that's probably no biggie, though.
Example of using a split screen app on the iPad. A Socrative quiz is going on the left.  A Padlet (set to the stream layout) is on the right for a backchannel option.  Good news – this app is free and you can create bookmarks so students don’t have to type in a URL every time. Bad news – it has ads. If you are teaching college students, that’s probably no biggie, though.

Take Your Pick with Plickers

Sample screen shot of Plickers app in action
Sample screen shot of Plickers app in action

I love getting informal feedback from my students during lessons, and usually use the Socrative app for this in my classroom.  Socrative is wonderful, and works on practically any device, but it certainly works better if you have more than one device in your classroom.  Obviously, not everyone has this luxury.  So, I was very intrigued when I ran across a post about a student response system that works quite simply with just one piece of electronic equipment required – Plickers.

I read about Plickers on a “Who’s Who and Who’s New” post by Debbie.  She does an awesome job of detailing the use of the app, so please head over to her post if this brief summary piques your interest.

Basically, you set up a free account with Plickers (either online or in the app; the app is Android or iOS), and then set up a class.  You can set up multiple classes if you choose.  Then, you give each of your students in the current class a card with a barcode.  You can print your own from their site, or order a set from Amazon. The barcodes are numbered, so you can be sure that the same student always receives the same one.  If you look carefully at each card, you will see that each side of the barcode has a letter: A, B, C, or D.  When you ask the students a question, they hold the card in front of them with the letter of their choice on top.  Using the app, the teacher scans the room, and the app records the responses on a graph.  The scanning takes seconds, and the teacher can see with a glance who understands the concept or feels a certain way about any multiple choice question.

For a free service, this is a pretty slick little app. It does not have all of the options that you will find in Socrative, but it certainly beats having your students do the old “thumbs up, thumbs down” response to help you get a feel for their understanding of a topic.  And, it requires only one piece of technology. (Unless you want to count the printer used for the bar codes and the laminator you will probably want to utilize if you plan to use these on a regular basis.)

I tried this with my 4th grade class yesterday, and they loved it!  Some of them are already planning to incorporate it into their Genius Hour presentations – along with the Free Game Show Soundboard app that I threw in just to make things even more exciting.

I’m not a big fan of using multiple choice questions frequently, but Plickers doesn’t have to be used just to quiz students on facts.  You can have the students rate their feelings about something or vote quickly with their cards, too.  Plickers are a great, inexpensive way to give students another alternative for showing what they know.

Sample Plickers Card
Sample Plickers Card