As I spend the first official day of Spring Break planning for the rest of the year, I reflect on the survey my students kindly filled out about our classroom and my teaching. I noticed a lot of trends and commonalities, but also many differences.
Many wrote they love when I use humor and suggested I use it more. My goal is to plan at least one humor related item a day. Some of my ideas include jokes, stories, silly movements, and role-playing.
Students also wrote they needed more practice with math concepts. I plan on using a workshop model this spring to provide more practice time and small group instruction.
Using the single point rubric to provide feedback instead of giving a grade on formative assessments was a huge success with students this winter. Students wrote they want to keep doing this and feel it helps them succeed.
Finally, I noticed many individual differences which reminded me of the unique needs of each student. A strategy that works for one may not work for another. I am reminded of the importance of differentiation to meet as many needs of each student as possible.
In my process of reflection, I asked my daughter today to tell me her favorite part of school (she is a first grader). Library was her response. I asked her to tell me why. She talked about books, the teacher read alouds and bringing rocks to her librarian. Rocks? Her librarian has a different theme each year, this year’s theme is rocks. She allows them to being in rocks they have found. I asked if she is funny. My daughter responded no, but said she is nice.
Nice. My daughter’s last statement brought me back to the most important word in education, relationships. If a child can see that you truly care (there is no faking it) amazing things can and will happen. We have the privilege to work with children everyday. Our relationship with each one of them makes the most impact. Notice them, listen to them, celebrate with them, love them.
I have been using the single point rubric template I found on the cultofpedagogy website by Jennifer Gonzalez. My students find the tool useful because I am able to give them written feedback based on the criteria instead of giving them a grade. I then meet with students in small groups and we go over the feedback and reteach if necessary. Students then use the feedback to make changes to meet the criteria. They appreciate that the rubric is not the end product (grade), instead, it is the tool to help them progress towards the goal/criteria. Students get the opportunity to continue their learning journey. Below are links to two of my rubrics for Fifth Grade and an example of how I use this tool. Let me know what you think.
“While the instructor isn’t posting our grades, she is providing very specific feedback on our work. It is a relief to know that if I don’t do something right, she’ll let me know what I need to do to make the assignment better. I don’t fear failing because I know if I do fail, it will move me forward in my learning, not stopping me.” Natalee Hall Stotz
I read this post and thought everyone would love to be involved in a class like this. It would take the pressure off. It would take the unknown away. It would take away the guessing game in figuring out exactly what the teacher wants. Instead, the focus would be on learning and improving. You would always know where you stood in relation to the end goal.
I have always known feedback was important in the learning process, but I never had a good system for providing effective feedback. During the past few months I have reflected on my practice and here are a few things I have changed or in the process of changing.
I have moved to a single point rubric for all assessments. Go to cultofpedagogy.com to find a description of this rubric. It has been an essential tool for me in providing written feedback instead of a grade for assessments and projects.
Knowing the difference between feedback and advice made a huge difference for me. Feedback should help the learner know where they are in relation to the goal. Think of a coach in sports. Instead of saying, “Move you feet,” you might say, “I notice when the ball comes your way, your feet move after the ball is over the net. Our goal is to get in place before the ball. Do you think moving earlier might help you reach the goal? How might you try this?” I notice statements and wonderings are great ways to provide feedback.
I no longer write grades on assignments, projects, etc. Once a grade is given, students think the learning process is over and tend not to pay attention to the written feedback.
Finally, I am putting an emphasis on the learning and not the final product. We talk about learning being a journey and no one is expected to be perfect the first time or even the tenth time. Learning takes time. Anything worth anything takes time. We can always improve.
Who wouldn’t want to be a part of a class that valued learning over grades? How many students would not feel like a failure early on in their educational career? Instead, they would know exactly where they stand, and the next steps to take to reach the goal. They would not feel alone in the learning journey because of the consistent feedback between the teacher and learner.
Yes, this is an ideal situation and I am FAR from this in my classroom. But I have taken a few steps to move towards this ideal classroom environment. I am moving towards the goal. Now all I need is someone to provide me with feedback and guidance on this learning journey. If you have any insight, please share!
Assessment 3.0 by Mark Barnes is a great resource on feedback!