What is feedback for learning, and how well do you give it to students?
Grading is often done long after students leave the room, when you are surrounded by piles of paper and a clipboard, trying to narrow down whose collage is whose....since at least three students didn't write their name on the back in one class, and you are attempting to select artwork for a display, or an art show and you know one student really loves art...so you want to foster that love...but it might not be their best...or even the best of the best....its your job to make those decisions. It isn't something that I have ever discussed with my K-4 students because there just wasn't time or opportunity to have that conversation. Now that I teach middle school, my concept of 'grading in dark' has shifted. I really want my students to see something that they are missing or to master a skill so the feedback is much more important now than it has ever been.
This year I see 367 student every other day...and instead of grading them on a 3, 2, 1 scale on a rubric, I am required to award points for each activity and give them a letter grade. I am still adjusting to this way of thinking and describing the expectations differently when I present the lesson.
For my first two projects of the year, I spent one day with my clipboard in every single class, while students were in the room, and I had them come to me with both projects and I asked them to asses themselves....and we talked about why they had earned an A or a B or a C, D or F, and if I disagreed, I would explain why it was better than what they thought....or if it was worse, I tried to give them a little information on how they could improve it right then and there so that they could make it look better, perhaps I was seeing something they couldn't see. Also, I tended to grade on the lower end of an A, a 90 if it was just okay, not display quality but still met the expectations, so that I could give them something to strive for as the semester goes on...I want them to work towards the 100%, which has been hard for some parents to understand why their student would have an A- in art....but I just explained the process to the parents, and for the most part they get it and appreciate that their kid is doing great, and working towards improvement.
Moving forward, I know it will be a challenge for me to give that same feedback with every single project,, the day that I did that was crazy, especially in my classes of 32 or 33....it was hard to get to everyone, especially the slower workers who needed every single minute to finish, I didn't get a chance to have the one-on-one with them because they weren't done at the end...it would be much easier to facilitate this process with another adult in the room, monitoring student work so that I could spend some time conferring one on one with students. Also, now students ask me about 5 minutes into a process: Is this an A or a B? And I'm just like, "I am not grading it yet, let's wait until the end, but as long as you are following directions, and having good craftsmanship, you are fine."
How do you deal with feedback in your classroom?
This post is part of the 30-Day Blogging Challenge for teachers on Teach Thought.