Creating a Culture of Feedback: (Empower Students to Own Their Learning)

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By overemphasizing high-stakes evaluations as tools for reporting what students know and can do, we’ve created a culture of grading instead of a culture of feedback in our schools and classrooms. In this book, the authors urge educators to shift their classroom focus, prioritizing effective feedback over grades and making students partners in their own learning. Discover how to state learning intentions clearly and provide individualized feedback to give students all the information they need to succeed.

Benefits

  • Gain instructional strategies for prioritizing feedback over grading in upper elementary, middle, and high school classrooms.
  • Shift classrooms from a culture of grading to a culture of feedback.
  • Discover how important feedback is to developing learners and how to use digital tools to effectively involve students in assessment.
  • Determine the characteristics of effective feedback for students, including how to clarify for students what mastery of the content and skills looks like.
  • Learn the benefits of having students engage in peer feedback.
  • Gain guidance on communicating the differences between grading and feedback to parents and students.

Contents

Foreword

Introduction

1 Where Am I Going?

2 How Am I Doing?

3 What Are My Next Steps?

Conclusion

References

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Introduction

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Introduction

One Really

Competitive Skill

Let’s start with a simple truth: in a world where the Internet and the rapid pace of change have made remembering basic facts redundant and irrelevant, being career ready depends on a heck of a lot more than what a graduate knows. Instead, the most successful companies are interested in what their employees can do with nearly ubiquitous access to information and opportunities. They are looking for graduates who can think critically and solve complex problems that cross domains. They value ethical decision making, teamwork, and the ability to apply knowledge in real-world settings (Hart Research

Associates, 2015). To the modern employer, adaptability combined with leadership, initiative, and strategic planning matter just as much as explicit knowledge (National Association of Colleges and

Employers, 2014).

For most practitioners, there is nothing fundamentally surprising about these demands. Progressive educators have long pushed against the notion that mastering explicit knowledge determines success. The thinking of scholars like former Massachusetts Institute of

 

Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

Where Am I Going?

All too often, teachers use the terms grading and feedback interchangeably. We convince ourselves that any information we give students—letter grades on reports, number grades on quizzes, or written comments on projects—counts equally as forms of valuable feedback. The truth, however, is that grading and feedback are different practices serving different purposes and having different impacts on learners.

Grades communicate how well a student’s work measures up against a teacher’s expectations. Often given only after a student completes an assignment, grades rarely promote growth in learners. In fact, grades rarely even report growth. Instead, they boil down product, process, and progress indicators into one ambiguous number or letter (Guskey, 2009). The result is that students have no clue whether the grades they are earning are a reflection of the quality of the content they have created, the effort they invested into the task, or the fact that their final pieces were better than they expected.

 

Chapter 2

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Chapter 2

How Am I Doing?

Whether feedback occurs in the workplace or in the classroom, it has almost always flows downhill. Managers use feedback as a tool for evaluating employees and for reinforcing the organization’s goals. Annual reviews summarize an employee’s strengths and weaknesses—and compare an employee’s performance against the performance of their peers (Goldsmith, 2002). Traditional schools have mimicked this flow: teachers most frequently use feedback as a tool to critique and assess student performance against grade-level standards. Those critiques and assessments then determine the grades students earn, which become the de facto sorting tools for rating and ranking learners. In both circumstances, the primary purpose of feedback isn’t to improve a learner’s performance. It is to justify an authority figure’s evaluations. The result is discouraging: feedback is rarely helpful or hopeful, leaving learners with little more than lists of ways that they haven’t met expectations.

 

Chapter 3

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Chapter 3

What Are My Next

Steps?

Here’s an interesting question: what happens in your classroom when you hand back assignments? If your students are anything like ours, they check their grades and promptly file their papers into binders, recycle bins, or trash cans. That’s discouraging, isn’t it? We spend long hours and late nights filling margins with comments and covering rubrics with check marks only to see students move on without giving our feedback a second thought.

There are lots of reasons why students don’t really care to hear what you have to say about their work. Some have learned to tune out feedback because it has always been too general to be worthwhile. Spend a decade reading vague comments like “Good work,” “I like this,”

“Remember to capitalize proper nouns,” and “Don’t forget to indent,” and you would question the value of teacher comments too. Others tune out feedback because it has always been overwhelming. Being buried under a thousand things left to learn can cripple some students.

 

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