At the end of March, my school’s superintendent visited for her annual S.I.P. (School Improvement Plan) visited. Since we’re scheduled for a Self-Assessment Visit this year too — at the end of May — the superintendent offered some very specific overall feedback to the principal and vice principal after touring all of the classrooms in the school. This feedback was shared with the staff at our last staff meeting.
As a school, one of the things that we’re looking at is ways to offer descriptive feedback to students, and ways that students can offer descriptive feedback to each other as well as reflect on their own learning goals. One thing that was mentioned during our staff meeting is that during our Self-Assessment Visit, students may be asked where they can find this descriptive feedback and where they can look to read more about their learning goals. This got me thinking.
Today I told my students about the upcoming Self-Assessment Visit, and I asked the students the questions that came up during our staff meeting. It was interesting to hear what they had to say. Students said that they could look in the Livescribe Pen notebooks for this information. They said that they could look on their blog posts for descriptive feedback. They said that they could read this information on the bulletin boards as well. Many also said that they knew this information because of the many discussions we’ve had about learning goals.
I explained to the students that as a result of the descriptive feedback offered during our S.I.P. visit, I was going to give them another place to look for their learning goals — where they could be in charge of setting their own goals as well. I showed the students the sheet that I created after our S.I.P. visit. Then students got into small groups and brainstormed ideas for the different sections on the sheet. We discussed some of these ideas before the students went off to complete their own self-reflection for the week.
The plan is that at the end of next week, the students will write on a sticky note how they addressed their goal(s), and where they’re at now. They can then modify their goal(s) based on their achievements. As they go to the different literacy centres during the week, they will keep their goal(s) in mind. I was so pleased with what the students wrote. It was clear that the weeks of students offering oral descriptive feedback to each other had a huge impact on students reflecting on their own work as well.
Yes, sometimes I asked students questions about how they would achieve their goals. I pushed them to think of specific examples of what they could do, and I got them to write down their thoughts, so that they can refer to them throughout the week. All of the ideas and all of the wording are their own though, and the students are very excited to look back at their goal(s) next week and start working on ways that they can do even better. Students also like that they can keep these sheets in their grey work folder, where they can easily access them to share with others as well as refer to when needed.
On a completely different note, the students liked to see today that even teachers can receive descriptive feedback, and that they can look at ways to improve too. Now the class knows that we’re all working at getting better together.
In my attempt to continue to change here, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this approach to descriptive feedback. What do you like about it? How would you make it better? Where do your students look for their descriptive feedback, and how do you ensure that they use it too? Thanks for your help with this!