Monday, September 15, 2014

Feedback and Progress

I had an great conversation with a friend of mine this weekend. She was a secondary English teacher. She was telling me about her experience and how she would not be able to live her life after work hours because she needed to provide meaningful and full feedback to all 100 of her high school students' essays.

It got me thinking about feedback and how it looks in my classroom.

Feedback for me means that students are aware of their strengths and their areas of growth in their work. Feedback exists for all content areas, but I'll speak to writing as it permeates through all of our content areas.

Feedback on writing means that students can identify their progress. It doesn't mean the very well known red-pen syndrome of marking every misspelled word or grammatically incorrect phrase. It means that students understand their work, understand what they are trying to communicate, and can identify where they could be more clear, concise, descriptive, etc.

During writer's workshop, I conference with my students at least twice a week on their work. It isn't a time for me to tear up their paper. It is a time for them to explain to me the direction of their piece and their decision for doing so. I can clarify, ask questions, point them in the direction of a mentor text, or I can direct them to another peer for feedback.

I do believe that feedback can look like this in any classroom of any age. I also know that it is impossible for me to "grade" every piece of writing a student produces in my class. They simply write so much that I cannot read all of it. I think there is something powerful for students to have written pieces they continue to work on privately rather than have me read through all pieces with feedback.

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