By Grant Wiggins
Ed note: On May 26, 2015, Grant Wiggins passed away. Grant was tremendously influential on TeachThought’s approach to education, and we were lucky enough for him to contribute his content to our site. Occasionally, we are going to go back and re-share his most memorable posts. This is one of those posts. Thankfully his company, Authentic Education, is carrying on and extending the work that Grant developed.
Below, find thirteen examples of how teachers have made feedback (as opposed to advice and evaluation) more central to their work with students:
1. In a welding class, the teacher gives students a performance task. The work is done when it is ‘up to professional welding standards’ for that type of weld. The students receive a description of the standard in writing, with a drawing. But the key is the last phase. “When you think your weld is up to standard, put it on this table, and sign it with the magic marker – signifying it is up to standard.” On the table students will also find some welds up to standard from previous years and some that are not, marked as such. I watched a boy who thought his was ready. But upon getting to the table and closely inspecting all the welds on the table, he went back to his station (having realized his was not up to standard) to work further.
2. A 6th-grade teacher of writing teaches his students to peer review and self-assess. All papers after that training only go to him for final review after the paper has first gone through the review process: a) Student gives the peer group the draft of the paper. The cover sheet states the purpose and audience of the writing, and the student asks for targeted feedback. b) The peer group reads and does 2 things – notes places where purpose was best achieved and not achieved. They also mark places on the paper where they lost interest – and they explain why orally to the writer. c) The writer decides which feedback (and advice) to take and which not; revises the paper, and attaches to it a self-assessment along with a brief statement as to which feedback they accepted, which feedback they rejected and why – and then hand this all in to the teacher.
3. In a class of 1st graders, pairs must create a simple map of the whole school, with concentration on a map of a room in the building. The map’s success is assessed, in part, by other students’ ability to use the map to find something, using the map key and compass rose. After each team has had others use their map, students self-assess using a few prompts (with smiley faces or sad faces for each criterion to be circled reflecting their self-assessment as to how helpful and clear their map was.
4. After a 10-minute summary by the Physics professor of the textbook reading (and focused on student questions emailed in advance), college students in a class of 175 are given a multiple-choice problem related to the content (and focused on a common misconception). Students use their cellphones to vote, graphs of their votes appear on the big screen in real time, and students are asked to discuss their answers in small groups. They are not only asked to re-vote after discussion, but they are asked to vote on their confidence in their initial and final answers. The correct answer is finally revealed, a brief discussion ensues, and the process is repeated with a 2nd problem before a summarizing mini-lecture ends the class. (The teacher has a record of each student’s responses in his computer).
5. 7th-graders research and discuss the problem of pollution in science class. Then, they prepare for an oral editorial for a mock TV newscast – What Should We Do About Garbage? The speech is videotaped. They review the videotape with a teacher, para-professional, or administrator. They look at two model videos. They self-assess their performance against rubrics. They propose revisions, and give the talk again. The rubric for the talk stresses the thoughtfulness of the self-assessment and the deliberate self-adjustments, not just the quality of the speech. (A similar process was used with 2nd graders in which students had to make an audio recording of a reading of a story. Fluency was the focus: students were told that the recording would be available for younger children not yet able to read.)
6. Twice a week 9th-grade English students engage in entirely student-run discussions. The teacher graphically records the conversation, using a coding system as to the flow of conversation and in reference to key behaviors (reference to the text, interruption of people speaking, etc.) At the end of 30 minutes, she comments on what she heard and saw, and shares with students the graphical feedback. Two grades are regularly given: group grades and individual grades. (This example comes from my daughter. You can read more about the process and her other work with feedback derived from models in her blog here.)
7. 5th-grade students are given challenging social studies tasks throughout the year. There are three rubrics: one for the quality of the final product and performance, one for the quality of the research, and one for student independence in doing the work. Students score their own work before handing it in against the rubrics. Part of their final grade reflects the accuracy of their self-assessment as compared to peer scores and teacher scores. Here is the gist of the rubric for independence: 1: student completed the task successfully with no help or hints from the teacher. 2: the student needed a minor hint (e.g. a question or indirect reminder) to complete the task. 3: the student needed 2-3 hints/cues/scaffolds to complete the task. 4: the student could only complete the task with significant prompting and cueing by the teacher. 5: Even with significant prompting, the student could not complete the task.
8. 4th-graders take a math quiz on a computer, immediately find out which answers were correct and which incorrect once the quiz is completed, and work to correct the incorrect answers, using clues provided by the software. The final number of correct answers is reported along with how many clues were needed. Students also learn at what level of difficulty each problem is pegged and where they stand in terms of degree of difficulty generally that they can handle.
9. Every week in art class, middle school students have their most recent work critiqued by a team of other students in terms of criteria and purpose that the artist has put forward for the review. (The process used is a modification of the process used at the Rhode Island School of Design).
10. At the half-time of every soccer game, the coach asks the players: What’s working for us? What’s not working for us? What’s working for the other team? Players only answer the questions, and players propose the advice that follows form the feedback on what to work on in the 2nd half. The same questions are re-asked and discussed the next day in practice in the post-mortem of the game, with the coach asking players to re-create successes and failures in walk-thru simulations.
11. For each paper in a 4th grade class, the teacher places samples of work on past papers (same genre or prompt but different topics) onto a big archery target. The exemplars are placed in terms of to what extent they ‘hit the target’ for the assignment. The teacher places the papers in the proper place, then asks students in groups to study the samples and to be prepared to explain why each paper was placed on the target where it was. Then when their own papers are finished, they must post it where they think it best belongs on the target. 2 students provide feedback on this self-assessment by either placing a check mark or an arrow (the direction of the arrow signaling whether the paper should be placed closer to the bulls-eye or further away from it).
12. For the past three years all 8th graders in a district have spent the last week of school working in teams in a simulation of the UN Development Grant funding process. Teams represent countries trying to convince a panel (adult judges brought in and trained for the work by project coordinators) to fund their ideas. Students get feedback from other students during the week; look at models and non-models of past presentations; teachers merely observe unless their is a pressing need to intervene. The judges give detailed feedback against rubrics for the quality of the presentation and ideas. The winning country gets to Skype with staff from the White House and the UN. (Though no final letter grade is given for the work, the students work with enormous energy and focus, in the last week of school. I can vouch for it: I have been a judge twice and an observer of the work in progress each year. Contact Mark Wise in West Windsor – Plainsboro Schools of NJ for further information.)
13. Every Friday, teachers collect index cards in response to two questions they pose to their 6th graders: What worked for you this week? What didn’t work for you this week (and why)? Teachers report back to students on Monday, with a summary of adjustments that the teachers might be making, based on the feedback.
Readers: please place your own examples in the comments. This will thereby become a very useful page for educators everywhere.
Oh – and, of course, feedback is welcome!
Image attribution flickr user peteselfchoose; previously published at TeachThought.com