Tuesday, April 7, 2015

2F, or Feedback Friday

2F necklace from our very first Feedback Friday - (2F because Feedback and Friday both start with F, and the glitter because my partner in crime is all about the sparkles!)

My state is a Common Core state and our students take the PARCC assessment. After giving the practice test in February, my colleagues and I noticed that there were several questions that asked students to evaluate a person's work for errors. Our kids needed more practice with this concept, but we weren't sure how to go about it in a way that was engaging for the students. From our talks and brainstorming, Feedback Friday was born....on a Thursday afternoon at 4:30! Don't you find the best ideas always come at the last minute?

Each day our students begin with some sort of opening activity, whether it is answering questions on a daily warmup, working on an application problem, or some other meaningful task. On Fridays during the months of February and March, students engaged in Feedback Friday activities. Students were given a real student work sample (that we copied and removed the student names from) and were asked to evaluate the work. Did the writer truly explain as the question asked them to do? Did they include all the elements that they were supposed to include in their answer? Was their reasoning sound? Did the writer make an error? What would you say to the student who wrote this paper?

This worked well with our students. Our kids needed to see real life work - they needed to see another fourth grader's response to a problem. It made it more real for them to know that the work was from another student in our building, not just an imaginary person made up. They also needed to truly understand what explaining meant (more on that in another post to come) - explaining means more than just writing "I know my answer is four" - and the amount of writing truly involved in explaining. They needed to see examples of good student work and examples of student work that could use improvement. Using the gradual release model, kids need a lot of practice doing this together, both as a class or working in teams or partners, before being able to do this independently.

We still do Feedback Friday every so often. Kids need a good handle on the content before they can truly evaluate a work sample beyond the basic "They answered all the questions" or "I agree, the answer is correct." Building the ability to respond to these types of questions takes lots of time and lots of practice. We'll start with Feedback Friday at the beginning of the school year next year and see where it takes us.

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