Giving students feedback is a district-wide instructional strategy where I work. There’s no denying that specific, clear feedback given in a timely manner can have a huge impact on student learning. And yet…what if you spend extra time and effort to provide such feedback, but your students don’t know how to use it to their advantage? That’s what I realized was happening with my 4th graders recently. Here’s what I did to fix it!
Delay Giving a Grade
About once a week or so, I give an assignment through our Google Classroom to read an article or paired text from the ReadWorks website. I’ve written about how I use this website in a previous post, and they did a lot of fantastic upgrades over the summer that make me love it even more. What I wasn’t loving was how my thoughtfully written, individualized comments to my students regarding their answers seemed to be ignored. I modified my practice with this assignment and now delay giving a grade after students have made their first attempt at answering the questions.
Practice at Using Feedback
Don’t assume your students understand the concept of feedback. I have to give my 4th graders a little pep talk about how our goal is not to be perfect but to make progress. I show them on the ReadWorks page where they can find my comments (this is a frequent issue of confusion when first using the website). Then we practice with some examples and a scoring guide. This is where it gets fun!
Connecting Feedback with a Scoring Guide
First I explain to students how their answers will be graded. ReadWorks has it set up so that short-answer questions can be scored along a continuum with a correct answer receiving a full one point. Less correct answers can earn slightly lower points in a descending order as such: 0.75, 0.50, 0.25, and an answer that is entirely wrong would receive zero points. The scoring guide we use in my classroom is simple because I want my students to be able to use it. There are four criteria and all must be included in an answer for it to receive a full one point. For each missing criteria, 0.25 is deducted from their score. I relate the scoring continuum to quarters in a dollar – that’s when the lightbulbs really went on with my students. Now that they understand what the expectations are for earning a full point, it’s time to practice with some examples.
Modeling How to Use Feedback
I show my students four examples with each one missing different criteria from the scoring guide. We analyze the responses and revise them using the feedback shown on the teaching slide. This process is exactly what I want my students to do independently in the future. I am very explicit about what they should do with the feedback given. I don’t want there to be any room for misunderstandings.
Revise the Assignment
Once I’m confident students understand how to use the feedback given to them, I have them return to their assignment in ReadWorks. Make sure you select revise and not redo within the website. Revising lets students keep their answers and allows them to make changes based on your feedback. Selecting the redo option completely wipes out their first responses and has them start over from the beginning. Make very sure you choose the revise option otherwise your students won’t have any answers to correct and your feedback was for nothing. Boo!
Getting students to act on your feedback need not be a waste of time. Using a specific scoring guide and explicit practice with clear examples, students can effectively use your thoughtful feedback to improve their learning. Want the examples I use with my students? Click on the link below to get this FREE resource for yourself, and let me know in the comments below how it went with your students. Happy Teaching!