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One of the most exciting parts of the Eurovision Song contest is the results – the awarding of points and the declaration of the eventual winner. The show would be a lot longer if more feedback was provided – something like 10 points due to the rousing nature of the tune and the inspiring lyrics, although the actual justification of the points would be interesting to hear. Detailed and effective feedback is not something that we, as practitioners, can or should avoid, so this week’s waffle is about some ideas for managing that feedback.

What does a smiley face really mean?

What does a smiley face really mean?

Throughout my teaching career so far, I have aways strived to share effective feedback with the learners. Although I have tried and been involved in a range of strategies, one thing always stays firmly as one of my priorities. It is important to creative a system which allows quality feedback consistently rather than a large quantity of feedback inconsistently. Because of this, it is important to manage how you mark and provide feedback. Within the classroom situation, I would always plan to have roughly three groups of children. When planning for their activities, I would ensure that one group would be working alongside the teaching assistant, another with myself and the final group independently. Although this might sound a ‘perfect’ situation, it generally was possible and allowed me and my teaching assistant to provide quality feedback verbally or written throughout the session, meaning that there was only one set of books to mark at the end of the lesson, in which I would provide quality written feedback. I recognise that many people might immediately start to criticise this method – but it was something that allowed me to maintain that consistency and quality of feedback that I wanted to achieve within my class.

…feedback should be a discussion where both parties can interact.

  • Reflect on the learning – After just finishing a session on marking and feedback with the first year undergraduate mathematics module, I remember quoting research on marking which stated that children did not find comments like ‘good’ and ‘well done’ to be helpful. Initially it is recommended that comments relating to the actual learning be the focus of feedback. Considering that the children have already made their own self assessment of their understanding of the learning it seems appropriate that this should also be reflected in our marking. Learning objectives will have been shared with the learners, but also telling them what you will be looking for in your marking is essential. This will allow the learner to focus on what you actual want and your feedback to reflect this.

  • Use of questions – If possible, feedback should be a discussion where both parties can interact. Of course this is not always possible with written marking/feedback, but in order to attempt to promote a conversation using questions can provide the opportunity to direct or clarify the learners thinking. These questions can be used as a strategy to allow the learner to revisit certain aspects of the work or to even further their understanding, directing them to new learning.

  • Time to reply – When using questions within the feedback, it is essential to allow the learner the opportunity to respond or answer the questions. Frequently in the exercise books within my class, I would present a question and the child would actually write their answer underneath. In order to encourage the children to do this, I would plan lesson accordingly, giving them dedicated time to respond to my questions. Remember to adjust the amount of work you need them to complete in order to allow time for this – too often it becomes something that you recommend before they engage with the exciting activity which you have provided for them.

  • Technology can, of course, play an important part in supporting the feedback process. Although it is not possible to provide screencast/audio podcast feedback on every piece of work that a child produces within the class, it is possible to achieve this for certain pieces of work throughout the year. Also, using this approach the children themselves can actually be encouraged to provide feedback for the other children. Ideas for this can be found within this waffle.

    I look forward to hearing your comments and ideas, please add them in the comments below or send me them to be via twitter(@iwilsonysj), Facebook, google+ or email.

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