feedback…the ultimate learning tool

“Students can learn without grades, but cannot learn without feedback.” – Rick Wormeli

Over this past school year, I started to uncover the value of feedback over grades.  The truth is, feedback is everywhere in our lives if we would just look around. It is essential for our growth and improvement, but too many times it is missing or at the very best lacking in our classrooms.

There are many ways for everyone in the learning community to garner feedback. Teachers provide it for students and vice-versa.  Students give feedback to each other, and there is much to be said for teaching kids how to self evaluate and improve their learning on their own.

The book I am currently reading, Role Reversal by Mark Barnes, has wonderful information and insight on this topic.  I find myself agreeing with so much of what he says about feedback and grading.  Grades are competitive in nature, but feedback elicits growth.  Isn’t that what we are looking for?  Student growth and learning must be at the heart of what we do.  Barnes recommends using the SE2R method which is as follows:

Summarize and Explain what the student has done according to the guidelines or standards
Redirect the student to previous learning, additional information, or further practice
Resubmit tell the student how to resubmit the work for further evaluation and feedback
Feedback should fuel the fire to learn, unlike grades which in my opinion most times stop the process cold.  Once there is a letter or number on the paper, a student figures that the learning about the concept has stopped, no matter how high or low the grade.
Improving feedback in my classroom is a goal of mine for next year. I incorporate a standards based grading system in my classroom that eliminates the grading of formative assessments.  Rather than a grade, students are simply given feedback to improve.   I gave many less grades last year and my students definitely benefited from it.  I would like to use the SE2R method from the book to improve my skills and in turn be a better model for my students!  Hopefully they will start to give better feedback to me, each other, and to themselves.
Learn On!

8 thoughts on “feedback…the ultimate learning tool

  1. Garnet, Your post was fitting as I had pulled Effective Feedback off my shelf for re-reading this summer. I love descriptive feedback (so much that I created a list of symbols (on a poster in my room) to represent the SE2R parts of my feedback. But I find that as we inch further and further into the school year, my feedback abilities with over 100 students in Math decreases. I find, however, that when I do give effective feedback, I see what Bart sees ~ improvement! 😉 Thanks for the nice reminder to get re-reading and keep plugging away into the school year. I need to figure out a better management system for pulling work. Hmmm… I’ve also not explained the structure of my feedback as succinctly as SE2R does so I’ll definitely be incorporating that come Fall. Thanks for a informative and motivating post, Garnet! 🙂 {@Amy_Teaches}

    1. One of my major goals for next year is to improve the feedback I give to my kids. It is tedious and time consuming, but the results are worth it! I am going to try the SE2R model and see if it helps me streamline things a bit. Thanks for commenting and I appreciate your feedback!

    1. I have found the same to be true with my students. When the focus is on learning rather than grades growth and improvement are a natural result. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. I like the quote “I gave many less grades last year and my students definitely benefited from it”. You are absolutely right. We emphasize evaluation over “learning”. As teachers wouldn’t we rather be given feedback than be evaluated once or twice by our principals?

  3. Thanks for your comments, Joy, it was great to meet you too! I like what you said about kids’ body language. So much of what we communicate is nonverbal and we have to be aware of what our students are telling us as well as the message we are sending. Grading everything sends a clear message to the students about what is important. I am working to send the message that learning is what matters, grades will follow. Thanks for reading!

  4. Fewer grades? Feedback to help students master content? What could be better! I loved meeting you in person, Garnet, and I, too, love what Mark Barnes says about feedback in his book.

    My next book I finished tonight was Teach Like a Pirate, by Dave Burgess. It, talks about feedback WE are receiving from students. Their gestures, where their eyes look, their body language – tells us if they are engaged or not. I’ll tell you – my kids were WAY more engaged when there wasn’t a grade attached. The trust is built, and relationships are restored. I’m really going to try to find more ways this next year to provide relevant feedback and even fewer grades. Thanks for this post!

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