Updated: Apr 20
How can you create a classroom that can't live without giving, receiving, and incorporating peer feedback to improve student work? It all starts with creating a safe space for feedback practices to thrive. What are two ways you can begin to do this? Start by trusting the language and striving for consistency.
Trust the Language
Critique, Peer Feedback, Shared Assessment - no matter what you call it, it can transform learning in your classroom if you treat it as a step-by-step process. It has detailed rules about the use of language: how you say something is very important during a feedback session. The specific language used makes the critique about student work - not about the students themselves.
For example, when we give any feedback, it is always in reference to the goals, or success criteria, that were selected beforehand. What happens when a student gives this kind of warm or cool feedback?
"I see you are meeting the goal of supporting your claim with relevant evidence, because I see...
"I'm not sure you are going to meet the goal of supporting your claim with relevant evidence, because I don't see...
It's almost impossible to take language like that personally - or to shrug it off as just another person's opinion. And before you say - "My students would never use language like that!" think about how simple it is to give them sentence stems - so they can lean on those stems as they give their feedback. These stems also help the students who are giving the feedback - they don't have to fret over how to say something to avoid offending their classmates.
Strive for Consistency
To feel safe in a process, it must be consistently and faithfully applied. Students will look to you to find out if the rules of feedback regarding language and the type of feedback are the kinds of rules that matter - or the kinds of rules that can be broken. There are several things you can do to make sure you are consistent in the process :
Regardless of whether or not you think your students understand the rules - review them every time before a feedback session.
Make the rules physically present in the room - on a poster or written on the board.
Model language and behaviors.
Take time to stop and deal with problems early.
Gradually hand stewardship of the process over to students - allowing them to lead the review of the rules - or model the proper use of language and behaviors.
More Resources to Support You
inquirED embeds support for student feedback in every unit, with specific lessons and protocols to help teachers create the culture and teach the processes that make feedback work in the classroom. See below for resources!
Videos to build your knowledge of feedback and critique
inquirED was founded by teachers with the mission of bringing inquiry-based social studies to every classroom. Inquiry Journeys, inquirED’s elementary social studies curriculum, is used in schools and districts across the country to help students develop deep social studies content knowledge and build the inquiry skills that are essential for a thriving democracy.
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