Guess Your Feedback

I am currently reading Embedded Formative Assessment by Dylan William (2011).  I came across these sentences about providing feedback on students’ writing:

… instead of writing comments in the students’ notebooks, [the teacher] did so on strips of paper.  Each group of four students received their four essays and the four strips of paper, and the group had to decide which comment belonged with which essay. (pg. 130)

That is so smart, isn’t it?  Self-reflection (especially in the area of writing) is a hot topic in our school district, so I knew I had to try this technique.

First, I collected a group of five opinion essays from a fifth-grade teacher.  The pieces I used were written in response to our district writing prompt.  I read each essay and wrote some feedback for the student.  I tried to frame my feedback using our district’s gem (+) and opportunity (-) model.  In other words, I gave both positive and negative feedback.  For example:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge


Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Next, the five students met in a group, and each student was given the five pieces of feedback.

Feedback Slips

Their job was to read the feedback statements and, through a group discussion, decide which feedback they thought went with their own essay.

Here is some of what I overheard:

Nolan: I think the last one is mine because I tend to do run-on sentences.  And I stated my opinion clearly in the introduction.
Brandon: I think that was is mine.  My opinion is clear, too.
Nolan:  Read me your introduction.

Gavin: I think mine is the second one because I could see how it was hard to tell when one idea ended and another one started.
Nolan: You should have indented.
Gavin: Yeah, I should have used paragraphs.

Arianna: This is mine.  I pretty much did only write one reason.  I could have done a way better lead.
Leilanni: I think that one is mine.  I only gave two examples.

Leilanni: That one isn’t mine.  I didn’t use a two word sentence.

In the end, only two of the kids were actually able to identify the feedback I had written for their essay.  But it didn’t matter.  What did matter is these kids were talking about their writing.  They were looking at their essays with a critical eye.  They were naming their writing moves.  This was self-reflection at its finest.