Fast effective feedback by @secretsciteach

We often think of feedback as being directly related to marking of books and this form of feedback often dominates. There are however many forms and types of feedback. This might include written feedback in our exercise books which is often the major source of an unmanageable workloads. Feedback might also take the form of whole class feedback given to students at the beginning of lesson. It may involve computer generated feedback which many software companies and publishers are beginning to latch onto. We sometimes forget the feedback we can get from students to help improve our own teaching or feedback from parents to find out what resources students are using at home. All of these strategies are intended to help reduce workload and ultimately improve the progress made by our students without increasing workload.

I like to always share with my staff the Dylan William quote that ‘feedback should always be more work for the recipient than the donor’


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The strategies below are ones that I have tried and tested in the classroom or on a whole year group level. I am not suggesting I have come up with all these but they are certainly ones that I share with my department and using a mixture of them with different groups has reduced workload and improved the quality feedback.

1. Spot the mistake
2. Targeted questions
3. Crib sheets and verbal feedback
4. Highlighting
5. Stamps – not what you think!
6. Flight path/success criteria
7. Survey monkey
8. Double tick

1. Spot the mistake
You simply put a black dot in the margin or next to the area that needs correcting. Give the students a fixed amount of time or set a homework to find and correct in another colour. Works well for more able groups, lower ability students may need more guidance but is the perfect example of where parents could help and support.

2. Targeted questions
Read through a whole set of books, this normally takes about 20 minutes. As you go through make a note of some key questions that you would like to ask. Give these a number e.g T1 – What is the role of the mitochondria. You can then simply write down T1 in students books where appropriate. Aim to have 4-5 questions and you can then differentiate for different students. This stops you from writing out the same question. In some cases all students may need the same question which you can share at the start of the next lesson. Save these on your ppt slide and they are ready as revision questions at the end of the topic too.

3. Crib sheets and verbal feedback
This has been mentioned several times in different blogs. This again involves simply reading the set of books but this time making more focused notes on key areas. On my crib sheet I have been using the following sub headings; star books, limited progress, key questions, spellings, presentation. The students took to this really well and I didn’t write a thing in their books. I genuinely finished this in 20-30 minutes and felt that I knew my class a lot better as a result.

4. Highlighting
Students either highlight key words under the direction of the class teacher or the class teachers highlights areas of their work they like. This can be extended by asking students to say why they think the teacher has highlighted a particular piece of work. Great way to replace the WWW if your school is still pushing this.

5. Stamps – not what you think!
Using a now redundant verbal feedback stamp, as you circulate the classroom ask students specific questions on their work then stamp their book. Get them to write the question down and answer it in their books in another colour. Simple but effective. Students start competing for questions and seem to like the challenge. They also have to listen carefully to question itself. Not for everyone and I fully understand some teachers are campaigning to completely bub the stamp but my students seem to enjoy this when it is used occasionally.

6. Flight path/success criteria
Share the success criteria with students before they complete the task and use this to help them improve and upgrade. Do not accept any piece of work that has not been improved in some way. You can highlight or tick the marking criteria. Perfect for extended response questions.

7. Survey monkey
This has worked really well with year 11 this year. Set up a simple survey on surveymonkey.com and ask parents and students how they can be supported in lessons and at home. A great question is what resources are they using at home?

8. Double tick
Similar to highlighting. Rather than writing a WWW, you put a double tick at the end of the sentence or paragraph. Students then have to then write down 1 or 2 reasons why that piece of work has been awarded the prestigious double tick.


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