Our first Magic Monday kicked off at lunchtime with a “Pedagogy Picnic”. I
drew the short straw had the honour of kicking things off first, with a 7 minute presentation on “Fast Feedback“. Here’s a summary of my presentation.
The impact of feedback in raising attainment has been well documented by academics such as Dylan Wiliam, John Hattie and more recently by the Sutton Trust Education Endowment Foundation in their Toolkit findings. Written feedback can be a time consuming task though and the purpose of this presentation was to try to pull together a variety of methods that could speed up feedback, without compromising the quality of it. I wanted to share a range of strategies, rather than focus in more detail on a few. A case of breadth, rather than depth initially.
Dylan Wiliam has said that feedback should be more work for the recipient than the donor. With this in mind, there are a number of strategies that can be employed before we begin to make our own contribution to the feedback process. Peer and self assessment can be powerful pre-cursors, provided we invest time initially modelling how to do this properly.
The provision of quality success criteria are key to effective assessment. In his book “Embedded formative assessment” Wiliam refers to an example in an Art lesson where students determined seven criteria for a successful portrait of a face. The success criteria were numbered and simply ticked if met or crossed if requiring further attention – just like a pre-flight checklist. As well as being suitable for peer and self assessment, this technique takes up very little teacher time, whilst still leaving plenty of work for the student to do.
Verbal feedback is another powerful technique we can use prior to giving written feedback. The number of times we provide feedback to our students during a typical lesson can be extensive. If you have never tried this I would urge you to keep a tally of how many times you provide some sort of feedback to your students during a typical lesson – you may be suprised at how much feedback you are providing already. Now I have seen the use of verbal feedback stampers by teachers on a number of occasions before to record that feedback has been given to students, however, it wasn’t until I saw this example by Shaun Allison on Durrington High School’s “Class Teaching” blog that the light bulb started flashing above my head! The key difference between what I had seen previously and the method outlined by Shaun was that once he’d provided the verbal feedback and stamped the work, the students then had to summarise the feedback they had been given, before acting on it. By summarising the verbal feedback themselves, students were having to process and interpret the feedback first, thus ensuring they understood it prior to acting upon it. The feedback loop was closed – feedback / interpretation / response / improvement.
Inspired by the simplicity and effectiveness of this technique I hastily ordered my “Verbal feedback given” stamper from Amazon and set about using it with my Year 9 Maths class. At the time they were doing individual D.I.R.T. tasks on Pythagoras’ theorem following their previous assessment and feedback. The independent nature of the D.I.R.T. tasks afforded me plenty of time to circulate and provide feedback to students when they needed it. Student summaries demonstrated an accurate (if sometimes brief) record of our conversations, but more importantly, there was evidence of the feedback being acted on immediately and further progress made as a consequence. The feedback had impact and the students worked harder than me!
Another technique in the “student works harder than teacher” mould is the “Dot Round“. I first came across this via a blog post by “The Learning Spy” David Didau entitled “Marking is an act of love”, who in turn was highlighting an idea he’d seen on Doug Lemov’s blog “Teach Like A Champion”. The text on the right hand side of the following slide is pretty much word-for-word from Doug’s blog on this, which is accessible here.
I can highly recommend David’s “Marking is an act of love” post, which you can access by clicking here. David’s “The Learning Spy” blog is also one that features on our list of recommended blogs, which are accessible here.
The next few slides are based on techniques shared by another David – David Fawcett in his blog post on “How can I be that little bit better at……using methods to make feedback stick?”, which is accessible here. Again, the focus is on the students’ contribution to the marking process prior to teacher input. The basic principle of the first technique: “Burning Questions“, is that the student identifies a specific area of content they would like feedback on (e.g. by highlighting), which the teacher then focuses their feedback on. In selecting the area they would like feedback on students assume ownership of the feedback process and are thus more likely to respond to it.
The second technique I shared from David’s blog post involved the use of feedback keys to highlight to students where knowledge is competent and where it is lacking. Obviously the codes you decide upon should be fit for purpose within your own area. The crucial part here is that students are required to think about the possible reasons they were given the code, which in turn promotes further learning and subsequent progress. It also leaves you more time to focus your feedback where it is needed most.
Again, it won’t suprise you to learn that David Fawcett’s “Learning Journey” blog features on our recommended list of blogs. If you haven’t checked it out already I highly recommend you read his “Can I be that little bit better at….helping teachers to yearn for the vast and endless sea?” post, which you can access here.
Next up is an idea by Adam Lewis on how colour can be incorporated when providing feedback. The idea being that if you draw a box around a section of work in green, for example, this signifies to the student they have done something well…etc. Adam combined this idea with the use of symbols, however I can see how it would work really well with David Fawcett’s feedback key idea where students have to identify why they were given a particular colour.
You can read Adam’s post “Marking books without burning out” by clicking here.
The next two slides are based on an ideas I picked up from another teacher with great ideas from Durrington High School – Andy Tharby. The two images shown on the next slide are examples of how Andy has used symbols to speed up his marking of English work.
Inspired by Andy’s English examples and another Durrington High School teacher Shane Borrett’s Maths examples I set about creating a set of codes to provide detailed feedback to my Year 9 students on a major piece of work they had completed involving angles on parallel lines. The first picture in the slide below shows my initial scribblings as I skimmed and scanned the books to pick up on key feedback points. I decided to use W1,2,3 etc. for What Was Good and Why comments, U1, 2, 3 for Even Better If feedback on Unistructural concepts, M1,2,3 for Multistructural…etc. Plus G1, 2, 3 for Generic comments, such as spelling key words correctly. The students then redrafted their work accordingly. An example of “before” and “after” feedback is shown in the second and third pictures on the following slide.
Traffic light feedback is an idea from Katie Ashford that I picked up via Joe Kirby’s “Pragmatic education” blog. Katie’s idea is to mark the end of lesson ‘exit-ticket’ task as red/amber/green then display a different task associated with each colour based on the level of mastery demonstrated on the exit-ticket task.
You can read Joe’s excellent “What if you marked every book, every lesson?” post in full by clicking here.
The final strategy I shared was one of a plethora of ideas shared during October’s Blogsync on “Marking with impact”. It was an idea, based on an idea, based on idea (if you follow) whose development is chronicled for you here, here and here…which I’ve tweaked with my own feedback comments below (see how it works!). It’s a real testament to the power of twitter, blogging and the sharing and development of ideas.
My version of the editable feedback plasters can be downloaded from our blog by clicking on the following link feedback plasters
For my final thoughts I returned to the original premise that “feedback should be more work for the recipient than the donor” with an illustration of ‘who does what’ in the strategies outlined above. In this case, I’ve highlighted what students should be doing in pink, with teachers in yellow.
I hope you find the strategies as useful as I have. Be sure to let me know how you get on, as well as any tweaks you make to develop them further!