Finding Time for Timely, Actionable and Effective Feedback

Close up of a computer keyboardOne challenge of giving feedback is giving it to everyone in a timely manner. Elementary educators have approximately 30 students each year and often teach multiple content areas.  Middle and high school teachers, often have 150-200 students in their care. College level educators have even more students. One level of common ground, at every grade level, is the need for feedback.

Research shows that more progress is made by students who receive timely and actionable feedback. The techniques in this post are a few methods that have been useful in my efforts to help students make improvements as they strive toward mastery. I teach language arts, but many of the tools and strategies discussed will work across curricular areas. Remember, feedback does not always have to be negative. Leaving a positive or encouraging response (especially when pointing out a negative) will give you legendary status with your students! Ok…maybe not legendary, but it helps!

So what are some ways to give individualized feedback efficiently?

Screencasting

Make a screencast to send quick video feedback. Add the link to the students work. You can find more information about screencasts in two of my previous posts:

Screencasting your feedback makes it quicker and students can replay it as needed. I use it to offer suggestions, point out positives, and do flash tutorials that are specific to the needs of that student. They can be as broad (covering an entire essay) or as singular (focusing on a specific math problem, writing strategy, or convention) as you need it to be. Students can take the information and run with it!

Kaizena

Person sitting at a computer listening to headphonesKaizena allows you to leave audio feedback for your students in their Google Docs. Similar to what you can do with a screencast, except it is audio feedback only. You can find more information about Kaizena here. Don’t forget to grab the Kaizena extension in the Chrome Web Store!

Google Keep

Google Keep requires a google account. If your school uses Google Apps for Education (GAFE) it is already included in your (and student’s) accounts. My students have learned to use it for note taking when completing research, but it works as a feedback tool too! Open the student’s document. Use the extension‘s checklist feature to write feedback in Google Keep. Make the student a collaborator. Tag each note with a label of the student’s name to keep track and organize notes. This method allows an opportunity for ongoing feedback and student can check off as they make corrections or finish remediation tasks. Need more information on Google Keep? Check out this super quick tutorial: How to Create a Shared Checklist with Google Keep by BetterCloud.

Make Timely Feedback a Rotation

Have students come to you for one of their rotations with the sole purpose of talking through what they are working on. For example, recently we were working in creating strong introductory paragraphs in my language arts class. Students came to my rotation in groups of 7-9. In the 20-25 minute rotation, I was able to skim each intro and give feedback for improvement. They were able to either begin to move on or make modifications in their next rotation station. Students who were not prepared for the required task used the time to email their parents to explain what they were missing and that they needed to work on it that night for homework.

Create Feedback Shortcuts in Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, etc.

Make feedback “macros” in Google Docs, they will apply to nearly all of your GAFE products. Watch this quick tutorial to learn how.  These macros allow you to type in short codes that will be transposed into whatever longer text you wish to appear as your feedback.

Onward! pexels-photo-60230.jpeg

Feedback does not have to mean a written message on everything students document. It can be a useful tool that elevates both teaching and learning. Try one or two of the techniques and let me know how they work in your classroom. Feel free to share a feedback method that works in your classroom in the comments…I am always looking to add new tools to my tool box. I hope these ideas help you find ways to incorporate more feedback, in your classroom, in a way that is both easy to maintain and a positive experience for student and teacher alike!

Advertisements

A Flexible Seating Playlist

What is Flexible Seating?

Girl reading a book on the roof
Maybe not THIS flexible!

Flexible seating is a method of classroom management where students have options and choice for where they sit. Their choices may may be driven by physical needs/comfort, learning styles, and/or collaboration needs. It allows students to work in positions that are most comfortable or effective for them.

Flexible seating has become the rage in education, and whether you are a veteran looking for ideas or a novice looking to learn more information, this is THE playlist for you.

Choose your own learning adventure! Just click on the links that pique your interest and learn in the method that works best for you!

NOTE: Before you commit, make sure that the materials you add to your classroom are safe and allowable according to your school administration and fire codes.

Articles

Videos

Other

Classroom Management with ClassroomScreen

Don’t You Just Love a New (and Effective) Tool?

I am always looking for tools that make my job easier. I have tried many tools over the years to help students stay on task and have found what is truly a “golden ticket!” ClassroomScreen is an online wall of sorts and an excellent tool for your teacher toolbox.

What is ClassroomScreen?

ClassroomScreen is a quick classroom management tool created by Laurens Koppers, a teacher in the Netherlands. It is accessed via a website (no need to download anything) which allows you to easily display your ClassroomScreen for your students. It allows the user to use widgets on the screen projected in their classroom, to keep students informed of expectations and on task. The icons give visual cues and are an excellent resource for all students, but especially helpful for students who receive English Language Learner or Special Education services. I’ve created the five-minute video below to demonstrate some of the features of the website.

 

How I Typically Use It

Continue reading

Getting Hyped About HyperDocs

Remember webquests? Webquests were big when I started teaching.  Students would work through a self-paced digital assignment, completing ordered tasks linked to websites in the internet. Webquests were designed to learn about a concept or topic. HyperDocs are like webquests on steroids…not necessarily bigger, but so much better!

So, What is a Hyperdoc? 

Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis have written The Hyperdoc Handbook: Digital Lesson Design Using Google Apps as a primer for getting started using HyperDocs effectively in your classroom. It is available in both print and digital formats. According to the writers,  “HyperDocs are digital lessons that you give to students for engaging, inquiry-based learning.”

img_0187-2

But Isn’t That Just a Fancy Document with Hyperlinks?

In a word, no. True HyperDocs ask students to dig deeper, master content, and demonstrate a deeper understanding. Hyperdocs also allow teachers to build in supports to aid in understanding of the content. In her blog, Karly Moura explains this well.

The beauty of HyperDocs is that the creation of the doc itself requires the teacher to take into consideration the needs of the students, how they will engage in the content, what ways they can reflect on their own learning, and how they can show what they know. It is also ALL about packaging. HyperDocs LOOK engaging because they are. Kids enjoy doing them and while they are learning, collaborating, creating and reflecting in their doc the teacher is given the gift of time to connect with students and engage in quality conversations with them about their learning.

Ms. Moura also created a wonderful graphic illustrating the differences between a document with hyperlinks and a HyperDoc.




 

 

 

Here is an example of a HyperDoc on Growth Mindset created by Lindsay Reed.

img_0190-1Even though this was Ms. Reed’s first attempt at a HyperDoc for her middle school learners, she does a great job of creating a lesson that is engaging and includes multiple methods of delivering information and demonstrating understanding. It also requires completing tasks and answering in ways that require higher order thinking skills…Hallmarks of a good HyperDoc.

How Do HyperDocs Fit Into the Blended Learning Environment?

As I have stated previously, blended learning is any combination of face-to-face and online learning. HyperDocs allow for students to explore and master content online, at their own pace. They can receive lecture, face-to-face instruction in small groups or one-on-one with an educator and the online component of blended instruction via HyperDocs. This can easily fit in a rotation model, flipped classroom model, etc.

But Wait There’s More! 

For the low, low price of $0 you too can access these resources! The website associated with the book is a buffet of ideas, tips, and tools made by the authors and shared by the the community of educators. The community has embraced the idea of teachers sharing resources for FREE (remember that is my favorite price) and the amount of knowledge and expertise being exchanged is phenomenal! The point is, share what you create, partake of what others share…everyone wins.

  1. Hyperdocs.co website created by Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis, writers of The Hyperdoc Handbook: Digital Lesson Design Using Google Apps
  2. Teachersgiveteachers.net an exchange where users can submit their HyperDoc lessons and download lessons created by other educators to use or modify for their classroom needs.
  3. #Ditchbook with #HyperDocs #BetterTogether Sharing Extravaganza! Padlet by Karly Moura where educators have contributed an assortment of HyperDocs.
  4. Hyperdoc Links by Merle Goess is a Padlet that lists a wide range of HyperDoc resources.
  5. HyperDocs Facebook Group is a forum for all things HyperDocs. It is a very welcoming community where teachers share resources and ideas.
  6. How to HyperDoc by Nicole Beardsley is a HyperDoc that is also a model for introducing HyperDocs!
  7. Driving Digital Learning The entire website is filled with resources free to use. This page is a set of HyperDoc templates.


Why Use HyperDocs?

  • Personalized, self paced, and flexible
  •  Room to differentiate with alternate texts for individuals or groups of students, individualized scaffolds like text to speech readers, various ways for students to “show what they know” using multiple learning styles
  • Engaging
  • Use the skills 21st century learners need
  • Less lecture and read and respond lessons of traditional teaching
  • Requires intense interaction with and a deeper understanding of content
  • Excellent tools for blended learning
  • Many lessons already created by peers in the community (educators) that are modifiable for your needs
  • Templates to get you started online

Best of all…you’ll have more time to work with students in small groups and one-on-one while your students are engaged in meaningful instruction! Explore HyperDocs as a means to meet the needs of your learners.

If you are already using HyperDocs, or are exploring their use in your classroom, or you just have questions/comments, please be sure to add your thoughts to the comment section below. Thank you for reading!

Using Social Media to Demonstrate Reading Comprehension and Content Mastery

If you are an avid user of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms, there is a good chance your students are either using or aware of them as well. Students are using these tools creatively in my class to show their understanding of a literary text. There are also possibilities to apply these activities in any classroom where explaining thinking is required. In ELA I am able to assess if students understand plot, character motives, relationships, etc. all by reading their “texts.” In social studies, students could have discussions between world leaders and/or historical figures across time. This is especially relevant if those figures lived in different eras. Across content areas, students could create the Facebook pages, text screenshots, Snapchats, etc. for inventors, scientists, historical figures, book characters, mathematicians…regardless of time of barriers like language, lifespan, or location. The possibilities are endless.

Screenshots of text messages between book characters

Cinderella's phone Prince-Hey it's the prince, Cinderella-what's up, Prince-I think I found your shoe, Cinderella-Where, Prince-on the steps outside my house, (image of a glass slipper), Prince-Is this yours?, Cinderella-Yes! I must have dropped it when I ran out! I missed my curfew!
Screenshots of fake text message exchanges between literary characters.

In the article, Creative Lessons with Fake Texts, Tweets, Facebook Pages and More by Nick LaFave, the author discusses several  links to social media simulators that you can use with your students. This is not an exhaustive list of what is available, but offers a great place to start! All sites should be thoroughly explored by an adult first. Have fun creatively using social media in your own classroom, without many of the worries of social media access!

 

 

 

 

 

Exciting Times in EdTech: Blended Learning

Once an Early Adopter, Always an Early Adopter…

I am what you call an “early adopter.” I love trying new technologies in my classroom. I am very happy when I get new tech. No, that is an understatement. The day they hung my interactive whiteboard I cried…real tears. When the technology support person surprised me with a Chromebook cart the day we returned from Spring Break, two years ago, I greeted him with a screeched out, “ARE YOU SERIOUS!!!” The moment is now a blur, but I may have hugged him.

I see the value in giving my students opportunities that technology can provide. Anyone who reads this blog also knows that I LOVE anything that helps me to do my job with efficiency. Make it easier and I am on board! Now that I have made the jump from elementary to secondary education, it is even more evident that technology can help us to engage our learners in exciting ways.

Why Blended Learning? Because Time…

As a middle school language arts teacher, I have a wide range of students with varying levels of ability and drive. I serve a large number of students who receive ELL services, students who receive special education services, students who receive varying levels of reading intervention and students who receive no interventions or services beyond my care. Those are very diverse needs. So how does one even begin to meet the needs of such a range of learners? At first glance (as well as glances 2-22) this seems a very daunting task. The key for me has been to work smarter not harder by implementing technology to the greatest advantage.

I heavily rely on the use of blended learning strategies. According to Catlin Tucker, co-author of Blended Learning in Action: A Practical Guide Toward Sustainable Change, blended learning is any combination of face-to-face and online learning. Keeping that in mind, in my classroom, I use technology as a second (and sometimes third and fourth) teacher in and outside of the classroom.

This year, I used rotation models often. Many of my students do not have access to consistent internet access at home. My classroom has 1:1 use of Chrome Books, so I try to use technology often. My class periods are a little less than 50 minutes long. In that time, I can deliver a whole group lesson and two 20 minute rotations or three 15 minute rotations. I can then pull students back together for the last three to five minutes of class. In stations, activities vary greatly. Students may work on follow-up activities related to my whole group lesson or on work that is individualized for their specific needs, be those needs for remedial skills or enrichment skills. Stations may be completely computer-based, jointly taught using teacher and computer, or small groups with a teacher.  They may also receive lessons that pre-teach or front load skills I expect them to learn on their own that I will follow up with later. During rotations, I can also pull students one on one for conferencing or specific individual needs.

Students are able to get some of their instruction directly from me and some from online resources. Using this strategy, I am able to differentiate for all of my learners by providing the opportunity for personalized instruction based on their particular needs, reteach/enrich as needed, teach new content, etc. by incorporating technology as part of my instruction. Blended learning allows me the opportunity to get more bang for my buck by having students complete multiple tasks in a given block. They are always working. They are consistently learning. Blended learning affords me the ability to utilize my limited time with them effectively.

Tools for Delivering Blended Instruction

The best part about using a blended model is the ability to incorporate many tools to engage and inspire learners. The variety of ways students learn and express their understanding in my class helps facilitate engagement. Below I list SOME of the tools that I use in my class. While some are used more often than others, they are all in use regularly in my classroom. (Note: All students regularly use their Google Drive to organize their files and turn in work.)

Hubs/Learning Platforms

  • Google Classroom-learning platform where you can distribute materials digitally and accept completed assignments, have online discussion streams, grade, and give feedback.
  • Blendspace-create lessons/units where all of the resources are grouped for easy access.

Video/Interactive Lesson Delivery

  • Playposit-embed questions into videos to make them less passive, and allow for accountability for the information within the video.
  • Peardeck-online presentation creator that allows you to make interactive presentations with embedded questions, links, and video.

Online Resources

  • MobyMax-online curriculum for grades K-8. Self leveling , tracks data,delivers both instruction and assessment.
  • Canva-graphic creator (make infographics, diagrams, posters, etc.)
  • Screencasts (I used Screencastify)-create video recordings with voice overs
  • Youtube-free video sharing website
  • Vocabulary.com-create a word list, enter text from a book, or use the self leveling activities to practice and expand vocabulary
  • Powtoon– online animated video creator
  • Tagul-word cloud creator

Formative Assessment

  • Nearly all of the above PLUS…
    • Plickers-student response system (ie. clickers)that does not require student devices
    • Kahoot-game show-like assessment tool where creators create the questions and users play the game.
    • Quizziz–game show-like assessment tool where creators create the questions and users play the game.
    • Quizlet-create flashcards and online game based on content

Introducing Students to Computer and Internet Safety

As educators, we are often at the forefront of teaching internet and computer safety to the students in our care. Where do you begin? As part of coursework toward my Technology Facilitation degree, I was part of a group of educators who created a song called “It’s All About Safety” using the music from Meghan Trainor’s ” All About That Base.”

It was so much fun to create! We wrote lyrics that cover everything from posting to social media to using correct posture at your computer. Take a look and leave some feedback! Without further delay…I give you Casey K, Jennifer W. and A. Dahl, It’s All About Safety.