Reflective Teaching Day 14: Feedback for learning

Today’s topic should be an interesting one!

What is feedback for learning and how well do you give is as an educator?

This is definitely an area in my teaching where I’m growing right now. In the past, I have always just corrected students’ work and handed it back. Or, during oral review, pointed out errors and (usually tried to) help students figure out how to fix them. However, as I move toward a more proficiency based classroom and away from the “traditional” methods of textbook-driven, grammar-based instruction, I find that my feedback needs to change too.

Sometimes when I have the students in front of the room one or two at a time doing presentations or skits, I’ll jot down the errors I hear and then review them with the students afterwards. Usually, I try to draw attention to common errors that most students can catch when they’re told “there’s an error here.” My goal is to build their ability to self-check, but I’m really not sure how effective this is. Sometimes for oral work, especially with higher-level speakers, I’ll interrupt when they say something like “Yo gustar” or “él quiero” and repeat it back as a question. They usually figure it out pretty quickly. But I don’t like to interrupt their speaking too frequently, especially when they’re in front of the rest of the class. So one of the things I definitely want to work on this year is more effective feedback in speaking. I’m hoping that Google Drive will be helpful in this area. I know that I should also make it a point to meet with students to reflect one-on-one with them and discuss how they can improve, but I’m a little daunted by the thought of trying to coordinate that this year.

In writing, I think I’m doing a little better. Colleen Lee-Hayes mentioned during langchat a couple of weeks ago that she uses a color code to grade students’ writing. I thought that was a pretty neat idea, so I’ve been testing out a few different color codes for the last week or so. During the same langchat, I also stole this handy little document from Courtney Cochran to help students see where they are and what they can work on to improve. So the last few writing assignments I’ve handed back have been marked in different colors, and had a section of that document stapled on, with a few notes from me. I noted the color code on the paper as well, so that students could see what kind of mistakes they made. I can’t really comment on the effectiveness of this yet, since I’ve only graded two assignments this way. However, I did notice that, when I handed the papers back, my students were actually looking at their papers and reading what I had to say. Based on past experience, that’s a huge step up from just checking to see what number they got out of ten. I’m still tweaking though.

The question is, “…how well do you give feedback as an educator?” Right now, I would say that I definitely need to get better, but I’m working on it. Langchat has been a pretty excellent resource for this so far, and I’m looking forward to getting more great ideas from these excellent language teachers every week.

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