Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Effective Feedback to Establish Learning Goals

Currently I am working to help my students establish both reading and writing goals.  This can be a tricky process for a teacher and a student.  Two questions I have pondered in working to help them establish personal goals are:  1) How can I help my students to establish meaningful learning goals as readers and writers? 2) What information/data can I utilize to help guide them down the path of thoughtful goal setting?

Within the first few weeks of the school year I believe I have compiled enough data on my students to truly know where they are in their learning as a 6th grade student.  I know the level they are reading based on each student's DRA and Oral Fluency Assessment.  I can tell you how many words they can read correctly in a minute based on their DIBELs score.  In addition, after working on multiple writing pieces, I can tell you something that each of my students needs to work on to enhance their writing.  A WHOLE LOT OF DATA-for sure.  I may possess enough paperwork on my 6th graders to burn down a small city!

The tricky part is translating this information to my students and making it meaningful to them, so they are a part of their own growth and learning.  Enter-Effective Feedback! Here are a few of the rubrics that I utilized for evaluating my 6th graders on a narrative end of novel projct.  We will still conference after they have the chance to read my thoughts on their work because I want to hear their evaluation of themselves after they check over what they have completed and turned in.

Olivia has an aversion to punctuation like many of my other 6th graders. Her mind is working so quickly, she just wants to get her ideas down on paper.  I need to help her identify when she has a complete thought, so she can punctuate it and make the reader's job more pleasant.  More thoughtful editing will be another tool, so when she is rushing to get thoughts down, she is able to go back and add correct punctuation to her work.

Barrett is an especially thoughtful writer.  He has no glaring concerns as a writer.  He uses correct punctuation, can incorporate dialogue correctly, and adds tremendous detail.  Does it get any better?! My goal for him is to keep him writing as much as possible and in diverse ways to continue to foster his LOVE of writing so he continues to flourish as a writer. 

Effective feedback moves learning forward and fosters students’ independent thinking by guiding them in the right direction.  Students can answer the question, “Am I on the right path?”  This is exactly what I was shooting for when I was evaluating the work my students put into these end of book projects.  While it will take time, time, and more, time-the end result will be my students possessing the ability to determine where they began and where they want to go in their learning.  It is up to me to then guide them through instruction to get there. 

While it can seem so quick and easy to slap a quick score on a paper, enter it into Progressbook, and pass it back into Thursday folders-of which I am guilty...I am truly working to take the time on those essential responses and written pieces to help my students identify the progress they are making and the path of learning they are heading because that feedback is so essential.

Resource used for this end of book project is a FAVORITE of mine.  It has organizers that help to model steps needed to develop the project and rubrics to assess student work: LOVE! Check it out!


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