Life’s actions are all about feedback. Even if we don’t always realize it, we are constantly engaging in either giving or receiving feedback. A classroom is no exception. As teachers, we spend much of our day giving feedback about student work, behaviour and actions. The research also tells us that giving timely and descriptive feedback is essential for learning and at my new school, Southwood Secondary in the WRDSB, it is one of the main goals for our School Effectiveness Framework (SEF).
In my current timetable I teach grade 12 university and grade 10 academic level English classes. In each class, there is a focus on becoming a strong communicator in both oral and written forms. As many of my students find that they are strong verbal communicators, our focus is on written communication. To align with both my philosophy of education as well as our school goals, I attempt to give my students as much feedback as possible which means employing both peer and teacher feedback strategies in those classes.
In yesterday’s class, my grade 12 students completed a gallery walk of peer editing. (In advance of yesterday’s class, my students had analyzed one of my own personal blog posts and written a response about any aspect or topic from my writing.) For yesterday’s task, the students kept their names off their papers and gave them to me. They then exited the room and I distributed the papers on various desks within the classroom. When I was finished distributing the papers, the students returned to the room and sat down to read and give feedback about one of their peer’s writing. (Throughout our first unit we have been focusing on thesis identification and writing as well as detailed support for the thesis and therefore these aspects of the feedback were the focus during the editing.)
The criteria for the feedback was:
- look for spelling, grammar, and punctuation issues (minor focus for the editing aspect of the lesson)
- topic and concluding sentences
- flow of writing
- use of transition words
- thesis identification
- details used to back up thesis -> are they sufficient? do they support the main idea? could they be stronger?
- writing style -> does it suit the style of response?