Two of my professional goals have been to focus on giving strong descriptive feedback as well as to have students give strong descriptive feedback to each other. I have noticed that when I ask students to peer edit each others’ work, they seem to focus on grammar, spelling, and punctuation rather than critical thinking and the effective expression of ideas. In order to combat this, we have spent a lot of time talking about what good feedback entails.
I have also wanted to focus on oral communication skills early on in the semester as in English, one of the things I worry about is that we concentrate on writing and reading when oral communication and media are just as important in our curriculum.
In order to consider all these concerns, this past week my students engaged in the following activities:
1. The students worked in groups to create a short oral presentation about a hot topic. The success criteria was to find a hot topic that would be engaging to their peers (focus on audience). Summarize then deconstruct the issue as well as explain why their peers should care. They were in control as to how they presented and it was a wide range from fully rehearsed presentations complete with PowerPoints to ones that were created in five minutes at the beginning of class. I wrote all my feedback on one Google document which I shared with the class after all the presentations were completed. We also recorded all the presentations on my iPad.
2. I wanted to spend some time talking about effective visuals and asked the students to choose and watch a Ted Talk. They then analyzed the presentation skills of the speaker and created a visual that would accompany a presentation (the catch was they knew they weren’t actually presenting to the class again). We then had a gallery walk in the classroom where the students clicked through each other’s presentations and provided feedback on a piece of paper beside the Chromebook. Before the gallery walk, we discussed what effective feedback looks and sounds like. The results were awesome! The students provided each other with really practical and helpful ideas of how to improve.
3. Next week the students will be doing summative presentations about what they have been reading lately in class. I’m experimenting with the idea of mixing formative into a summative task by giving them feedback on their reading skills and focusing on the skills of oral communication for the summative piece. We will be recording these presentations as well and using them for reflection and analysis of growth as a follow up task. (Their writing skills will be assessed summatively with the formative being their first four blog posts). I will also be giving them feedback on their reflecting skills as meta cognition is such an integral aspect of the English curriculum.
I’m really excited to see the results from all the feedback, but more importantly, the reflections on growth post presentation. It should be an exciting week leading up to March Break!