Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Better, Faster, and Easier Feedback

Like most teachers, every year I pick one or two things to really focus on improving. This past year was my first time teaching first grade (coming down from upper elementary), so I felt like I had WAY more than one or two things to focus on….. IE, OMG, how in the world do you teach a child to read?!

So… that was overwhelming! In any event, one of the things that I have always struggled with is giving timely and effective feedback. This year I made that one of my professional goals.

One way I was able to do this was by grading small things every single day. First grade is all about routines. I like structure and so do my students. One thing we did every day was edit a sentence together. I quickly graded them daily and then tallied up their final grade on Friday.

This is what I found:

1.     My students LOVE the feedback! The rubric is out of 5 and we talk a lot about what a 5/5 looks like. (They are learning fractions at the same time!!) They even say things like, “I know this will be a 5/5 today!” If they don’t get a 5/5 they are told why on the rubric and they work to fix that problem the next day.

2.     I draw a star on 2-4 students’ work each day. The next day these students get to put their work up on the screen and the class and I talk about what they did well. After modeling this for a couple of weeks students start to raise their hands and say things like, “I think you gave him a star today because he has really good finger spaces and that’s something he has been working on!” It’s such a great way to honor students for their hard work. The point is not to always put up the best of the best each time. Talk about differentiating and learning from other students’ hard work and successes. Plus, they get SO excited when they see a star on their paper!

3.     It takes me 10-15 minutes to grade their sentences daily and I usually do it while they are at Specials. My students are trained to turn their packet in open to the day’s work. When they come in the next morning I have it on their desk with their morning work. Best part --- I’m not sitting at home on the weekends grading a hundred papers. All my work is done and it actually helped my students!

I firmly believe this was one of the smartest and effective things I did in my classroom this year. If you want to try it out for free  for a couple of weeks you can get my freebie here.

If you’re sold on the idea and want to use it for the whole year, click here for all 30 weeks.


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