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.
An article I wrote called, “25 Creative Ways to Incorporate More Project Based Learning in the Classroom” has just been published. There are lots of great resources – even if you aren’t ready to try PBL quite yet. You can check it out here.
I had the fabulous opportunity to view an “edufilm” a couple of nights ago at the SXSWedu Festival. The film, If You Build It, is a documentary about an ambitious endeavor taken on by the founders of “Project H” to guide a group of high school students through a year-long course that would culminate in them creating a building for their economically-depressed community.
Watching If You Build It is guaranteed to inspire you. Emily and Matt, the two Project H founders who undertake this challenge in the film, will absolutely convince you of the need for project-based learning in our schools. Their passion and faith in the curriculum they create despite all of the hardships they endure (including giving up their entire teaching salaries) cannot help but provoke more educators and communities to consider the need for more relevant learning experiences in our educational system.
The students in the documentary will make you laugh and touch your heart. The documentary does a great job of revealing how this project effects each one of them, and its overall impact on this small community in Bertie County, North Carolina.
If you have the chance to see this film, I strongly urge any adult who is interested in the future of education to view it. Here is a list of planned screenings in upcoming months. If the film is not coming to a theater near you, there is a procedure on this page for trying to get a community screening.