Reflection and Feedback

what stuck with you-

I just came across a blog post by Dani Raskin where she talked about a reflection technique called “What Stuck With You?“. Basically, towards the end of the lesson, students are asked to write a post-it note on what they got out of the lesson – or even what questions/problems they have been left with. Students share their thoughts before sticking the note onto a display wall. This lets everyone have a voice, gives the teacher immediate feedback on students’ understanding of the key points of the lesson, and will form the basis for review later on.

I’m keen to try this with some of my classes, but probably more at the end of a unit of work than at the end of a class, just because I am working with primary students, 25 or 50 min lessons, and I don’t think I will get the full power of the activity after just reading a story and talking about it with Preps….

 

The second thing was mentioned later in the same blog post: using the “Start, Stop, Continue” feedback model. In this activity, you ask the students for feedback on your lesson/unit/teaching, specifically ways to improve the classroom experience:

* What would they like you ( the teacher) to START doing?

* What would they like you to STOP doing?

* What would they like you to CONTINUE doing?

A bit of a search and I found this very clear explanation of the model as it applies to primary/high school teaching. I have been changing some of the ways I teach ICT skills to my primary classes, so this would be a good time for me to seek some feedback from them on how helpful these changes have been for them.

 

‘Twas the night before Term 2, and all through my brain…

http://pixabay.com/en/neon-glow-glowing-light-design-660989/

beautiful chaos via Pixabay CC0

I’m juggling the chaos, I hope not in vain:

Great ideas born of desperation…

Sometimes a planned lesson just isn’t going to work… I had one of those late last term, when my Year 4 class could not settle. In sheer desperation I fell back on the traditional technique of giving out paper and pencils, and pulling out the whiteboard. I didn’t want to do something pointless and timewasting, so I came up with a series of questions focussed on books and reading, and asked everyone to write down their answers, but to keep them secret for a big reveal at the end. We ended up with 15 questions, such as favourite book, book character you’d most like to meet, least interesting book this year. With 10mins to go we stopped and I asked everyone to pick a few answers they’d like to share – hands shot into the air, lifting their owners off the chairs with their enthusiasm to share! I ran through the questions likely to give the most interesting range of responses, and zoomed through the forest of hands as fast as possible to give everyone a chance to speak – and insisted that everyone speak at least once on a question of their choice. Even more fun than the answers were the reactions of their classmates – cries of agreement or disbelief rang out, “I love that one too!”, or “I can’t believe you like that!”. This lesson went so well that I repeated it 3 lessons later with my other Y4 class (last lesson on a Friday, so having something really good is really helpful).

This activity turned out to be such a great way to have my students talking about their reading interests that I decided to take the sharing further. For our next lesson I typed up the questions (having taken photos of the whiteboard list so I didn’t lose it), printed them on different coloured pieces of paper and posted them in different places all around the Library. I asked my classes to type up their answers only. I asked for a minimum of 10 so that boys who are slower to type up work had some leeway built in. I gave them parameters for font size and style, and asked for names on each answer. Then we printed and cut out the answers, and I asked them to stick their replies around the questions. My Library now has 15 very untidy collections of paper strips stuck around coloured questions, and this is the door to my office:

Q8: Book on the top of your Must Read list?

Q8: Book on the top of your Must Read list?

It has been really rewarding though to see the number of students stopping to read the responses, not just from those classes but also older students and some teachers.

For such a simple activity this ended up having a significant impact, reaching well beyond the initial 50 minute library lesson.

Sometimes the simple things…

Sometimes you have a lesson that is perfect just because it taps into the most basic needs and interests of your students. No technology, no complicated set-up, just pure engagement.

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Today I taught one of those lessons with my Prep and Year 1 classes. These boys are mostly nice children, although there are a few in there with poor social skills or impulsive behaviour that can interrupt carefully-planned activities. Many of these children are still learning to read with any fluency, and cannot write long pieces of text. Therefore a lot of our response-to-literature activities include drawing, colouring, matching images to words, those sorts of things.

Not today.

Today we were interactive.

Our book today was Donald Loves Drumming by Nick Bland. Young Donald the rhino has a drum kit which he loves to play, but he is just as happy to drum his sticks on any other object available, or to clash cymbals, or do anything that is louder, faster, messier, higher or more dangerous! There is so much boy-focused action in this book that I thought we should have some in our class, and let them get really involved in the story. (I’m sure that wiggly little girls would enjoy it too, but as my school is boys-only, the point is moot for me.)

The Activity:

    I asked everyone to space themselves out further than usual so that there was a little circle of space around each child.

    Every time I said ‘drumming’, the boys had to drum madly on the floor until I said ‘stop!’.

    We practiced drumming and stopping a couple of times, with lots of reinforcement of great listening.

    I told the children that we were going to have a lot of fun with this, but that we could only do the drumming if everyone followed the rules.

    I read the book to the class, putting plenty of emphasis and expression into every ‘drumming’, and using very sharp and clear ‘stops!’.

    The boys were thrilled with the chance to get really physical and a bit noisy with the story, and loved the challenge of stopping exactly on my command.

    As the story went on I introduced some other actions, such as wiggling fingers to show rain, a falling sound or hammering sound to match events in the story.

The Result:

I am really pleased with the way this lesson turned out. We didn’t have any cute pictures to take home for the fridge, and I am kicking myself for not thinking to set my iPad up to record the sound of their drumming, but that wasn’t the aim. I wanted the boys to recognise their role as participants in the story. Given that these boys are 5, 6 or 7 years old, a really physical activity is a beautiful match for their stage of mental and social development.

Although this lesson required no technology, I think it demonstrates why things like iPads are so exciting for children. They are still learning about the world by physically manipulating it, or by moving their bodies or making a noise, and activities that reward those kinds of behaviours will be more interesting to children. When we give children access to technology, we need to make sure it matches their needs and abilities in a rich way. I think that my classes had morefun today drumming on the floor than they did in other lessons when we manipulated an ebook app on the IWB.

I know I did!

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