Peer Feedback

IMG_2060.PNG

As @Daniel_Eos and I evaluated progress in my Y6 pupils’ books one autumnal aftertoon, we found ourselves asking the same question over and over again… ‘What impact is teacher marking and written feedback having on pupil progress?’ The answer was simple, very little!

Given that the findings of The Sutton Trust show feedback to have high impact, where was I going wrong? Was the quality of my written feedback to blame? Was it the quality of pupils responses and the time given to this that was failing? Or was it a combination of the two?

IMG_0398.JPG

@Daniel_Eos found this on Twitter (source unknown) and we decided to adapt it slightly and use as tool for pupil response time.

IMG_2033.PNG

This left me to consider the quality of feedback that the children were receiving through written comments in their books. Over the coming days, I conducted a vast amount of reading on this matter. A common theme quickly emerged; peer feedback.

Having seen the impact of Critique at Hartsholme Academy, and with child-directed learning/metacognition high on my agenda, I decided to focus my efforts here.

I stumbled across the idea of TAG on Twitter (original source unknown). This seemed to provide a basic structure for pupils to provide peer feedback.

IMG_2036.PNG

The next step was to provide children with a criteria to provide feedback against. In my NQT year, I remember asking my Y2 class at the time to ‘write something positive in a peers book’… Only to find one child had written ‘I love you’ in another pupils book… Nice but not particularly helpful!

@Daniel_Eos, @crizzlerizzle and I developed the following. Y6 were writing narrative poems at the time. We now develop one of these for every genre that we teach and this goes into the pupils’ books at the start of the ‘block/genre/unit/whatever the government say we are supposed to call it these days’. This provides the children with a criteria to provide feedback against.

IMG_2062.PNG

Every time a pupil produces a piece of work, they ask another pupil to TAG it. They then use the DIRT tool to improve their work based upon the feedback given. As a teacher, I have provided feedback on the quality of feedback if and when needed.

Four weeks on from the implementation of this and the impact has been staggering! Evidence in books shows large numbers of ‘level 3’ writers producing independently written ‘level 4’ pieces of work. Children are showing a greater understanding of writing and genre in the feedback they are giving and they are responding to feedback in a way that is enabling them to move their own learning forward. I believe that children have risen to the challenge of being empowered to improve each other’s work. Moreover, expectations (across the attainment range) have risen.

Here is one example of the poetry produced. This pupil achieved this outcome by responding positively to peer feedback.

IMG_2063.JPG

I have been blown away. As a result, my next challenge is to develop a similar system for peer feedback in reading and math.

Advertisements

Groups and Labels

This will almost definitely turn into a badly written rant. However, if you are reading this, I have obviously decided to post it anyway. I want to reflect on the use of ‘labels’ and ‘groups’ in education and the – in my opinion – negative impact that they are having.

EAL, SEN (SA, SA+, Statement, ASD, ADHD, ADD, MLD, SLD etc…), HA/MA/LA, G&T, at ARE, below ARE, above ARE, girls, boys, FSM/PP…

These are just some of the labels that we give groups of children in our schools. These are just some of the ways that we group children (by classification) when; planning, teaching, assessing, analysing data and explaining our data.

The issue with this, is that we too easily forget about the ‘individual’. We plan for a group with a label, to meet the ‘need’ of the group, not the child. Whilst I am aware that I am generalising here and that this is not true of all schools and teachers, more often than not, it is the case. Many will argue that grouping children (with a common need or strength) is an effective way of teaching, learning, assessing and analysing data. I disagree. When I imagine a school, in which, labels are banned and children are not grouped together and taught by ability, I begin to see how individual children’s needs are met and strengths developed. I begin to see how children are encouraged to visualise what they want to do and dream about what they want to be. A place where the role of the teacher is to encourage them to dream big and help them achieve it.

One final thought. Children are becoming increasingly aware of the labels that we are giving them and the groups, in which, we are asking them to work. Children with the label ‘ADHD’ are starting to use the label as an excuse for demonstrating inappropriate behaviours. Children who work in the ‘low ability group’, supported by a TA/LSA, are continually having a lid put on their learning and will continue to live down to our low expectations.

The rant could continue. However, I am aware that I could be wrong about all of this! Comments and thoughts are most welcome.

Image from http://www.fostercaresuccess.com/children-who-are-labeled-unfairly-labels-harmful/ a great read!!!

20140406-100646.jpg

Developing the use of new technologies to support teacher feedback and peer assessment

Last week I was invited to speak at CfBT’s Schools Working Together Conference. Here is the gist of what I shared…

Teacher Feedback
Effective feedback is vital if children are to make progress. For many years, teachers have given feedback in books through written comments. Whilst this has its’ place, I question how effective written feedback is, especially for younger children and those with low levels of reading ability. For this reason, I often provide verbal feedback and find this to be most effective. However, this raises two issues. Firstly, verbal feedback requires the teacher to provide this, to the individual child, during lesson time. How feasible is this considering many of us have 30 children in our class at any one time? Secondly, if feedback is given verbally, where is the ‘trail’ of feedback in a child’s book (learning journey) for the child and others (parents, SLT, OFSTED etc) to see?

To solve both issues, I have started to use SoundCloud and QR Codes. SoundCloud is an iPad app and cloud storage that enables me to record my verbal feedback (without the child being present) and store it as an audio file ‘in the cloud’. I then, using RedLaser, generate a QR code linked to the audio file’s URL in SoundCloud. I print it, stick it in the child’s book and then they scan it using a mobile device to listen to my feedback.

Peer Assessment
After the success of using SoundCloud and QR codes to provide effective teacher feedback, I then considered the possibilities of using this for peer assessment. Peer assessment raises the same issues as teacher feedback but also generates the issue of the ‘peer assessors’ ability to write or communicate their feedback effectively through written word. Children in my class, of all abilities, now provide peer assessment through the use of SoundCloud and QR codes. This has also proven to be most effective.

20130721-110256.jpg

20130721-110303.jpg

My Interview with personalizelearning.com

I recently did an interview for personalizelearning.com with Kathleen McClaskey and Barbara Bray. You can find it here: http://www.personalizelearning.com/2012/11/messy-learning-interview-with-chris.html

OR HERE!

‘Messy Learning: Interview with Chris Edwards

TRANSFORMATIONAL TEACHER INTERVIEW: CHRIS EDWARDS

Chris Edwards is a year 2 – Class2CE teacher at Chad Varah Primary School, Addison Drive, Lincoln, England. The school is for children in years F (4yrs old) to 6 (11yrs old) with nearly 500 children in the school. There are 2 forms (classes) per year group with approximately 30 children in each form (class). Before Chris became a teacher, he was a professional musician. During that time, he occasionally worked with children, teaching music. Chris loved it so much that he decided to become a teacher. He has now been teaching six years.

We have been asked by primary teachers how to personalize learning for young children, so we interviewed Chris how he has personalized learning for children 6 to 7 years old.

Q. Why did you decide to personalize learning?
A. I decided to personalise learning in my classroom about a year ago. I watched a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson (the king of creativity) speaking about how he believes that our current education system is killing creativity. What made me think the most was when he said this: “Shakespeare was in someone’s class once, right?” And I thought wow! I have never considered who I may have in my class! I had never realised that in my class could be the next Steve Jobs, the next Prime Minister… What if there is a child in my class now who has the potential to cure cancer… When I started thinking in this way, it changed everything. It made me realise that the most important thing was ensuring that every individual child in my class, realised and reached their full potential.

To make things worse, with that in mind, when I evaluated the teaching and learning in my classroom, I realised that it was not fit for purpose. Regardless of the good observations, I couldn’t, hand on heart, say that the teaching and learning in my classroom inspired and enabled every individual to reach their full potential and develop their individual talents. So I changed it. [Read about how Chris used iPads during an evaluation hiding in his cupboard while his children researched how to bring him home from Greenland.]

I am confident that I now have a system in place that doesn’t kill creativity but rather encourages and engages children in learning. Most importantly I’m confident that we are developing an environment in which all children, supported by me (the facilitator), can begin to realise and reach their full potential.

Q. How are learners in your class changing?
A. The learners in my class are changing in a very noticeable way. The learners in my class are no longer passive. They are engaged in their own learning and are motivated. Most importantly, they are learning to be resourceful and resilient. Learning anything is an inherently frustrating process. How can it not be? If we knew it all already, we would not be “learning”! Therefore, having a personality that is more likely to carry on despite frustrations – that is, being academically resilient – is proving to be a huge success. In the form of the iPad, children have a multi-purpose tool that enables them to problem solve effectively. This is helping children to become resourceful and resilient.

Q. What are you going to do to different this year in your classroom?
A. Over this next academic year I will be carrying out a small scale research project. I have called this project ‘Messy Learning.’ Over the course of the year, I will focus on and try to answer the following questions…
Can we ensure better progress (against nation curriculum targets – movement through lit and num levels) when we engage children in personalised learning using handheld devices?
Are children more likely to discover and develop their individual talents when engaged in personalised learning and are using handheld devices?
Is it important that children discover and develop their individual talents or should we focus on basic skills (literacy and numbers)?

Q. How did you change your classroom?
A. I learned how to redesign my classroom from Kevin McLaughlin. Here are a few pictures of the redesign of my classroom.’

20121201-180927.jpg

20121201-180943.jpg

20121201-180955.jpg

20121201-181004.jpg

Using technology to engage learners

This week, I was observed by my Headteacher. The focus for the observation was ‘Engagement and Progress’. I have 29 children in my class and 16 iPads. Here is an outline of what we did.

In order for the ‘engagement’ aspect of this lesson to work, I spent the first 2 hours of the day hidden in my cupboard. My LSA welcomed the class, took the register and started the day – the children had no idea where I was – I watched on a monitor from the confines of my hiding place. 9.30am arrived and my Headteacher entered my classroom to observe me unaware of where I was. “Have you seen Mr Edwards?” My LSA asked my Headteacher (my LSA knew where I was, of course). With this, I appeared on the IWB (using my iPad camera and airserverapp). I had hung a big white sheet behind me to disguise where I was. The children became very excited.

“2CE”, I said, “I got so excited about your work on the North Pole that I decided to go. However, I got lost, I think I’m somewhere in Greenland and I really need your help. I have to whisper as I can hear some animals near by. I don’t know what animals they have here, so if some of you could find out and email me a list, that would be great. Also, it’s really cold here. Could you email me a list of suitable warm clothes to wear please? There’s lots of snow here. I’ve heard of a shelter called an igloo but I have no idea what they look like or how to make one. If some of you could find out what an igloo looks like and then have a go at building one using materials around the classroom, that would be a big help. Perhaps you could video yourselves making it to help me out. Finally, I don’t actually know where Greenland is! Can you have a look on the maps app and email me a screen shot? I’d really appreciate your help all! Speak soon.”

With this, they were off! Within 5 minutes, I was receiving emails from my class with screenshots of maps. Within 10 minutes, the emails containing lists of arctic animals and warm clothing started arriving. It was working! I could see on my monitor that all children were engaged and were completing the ‘tasks’ with excitement. I could also see small groups of children collaborating to build igloos using lego, blocks and boxes. Every so often I would reappear to thank the children and display excellent examples of what individuals had emailed through.

To close the lesson, I appeared on the IWB to explain that a rescue helicopter had found me and was bringing me back to school. As the children went out for play, I emerged from the cupboard.

20121118-075344.jpg

Handheld Learning Conference 2012

Today, Thursday 11th October, I was given the opportunity to share with other teachers what happens in my classroom at The Handheld Learning Conference in Hull. Here is what I shared.

One thing that always seems to ring true, usually in hindsight, is that you should use the right tool for the job. The reasons are varied but usually amount to reducing the amount of effort to get a job done or ensuring you don’t damage your work (or yourself).

In fact, Abraham Lincoln said: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

This, in essence, is what I want to talk about today: mobile devices as tools. I do not believe that they are a magic wand that will solve all of our problems. In fact, I am of the opinion that if they are introduced as some kind of ‘quick fix’ to somehow enhance teaching and learning, that they could end up having the opposite effect and could actually hinder good learning and progress. And so, it’s important to understand that I started by thinking about learning – the devices came after.

I love the TED app on my iPad. I can sit for hours browsing and watching inspirational talks. One of the first I watched was a talk by Sir Ken Robinson (the king of creativity) speaking about how he believes that our current education system is killing creativity. What made me think the most was when he said this: “Shakespeare was in someone’s class once, right?” And I thought wow! I have never considered who I may have in my class! I had never realised that in my class could be the next Steve Jobs, the next Prime Minister… What if there is a child in my class now who has the potential to cure cancer… When I started thinking in this way, it changed everything. It made me realise that the most important thing was ensuring that every individual child in my class, realised and reached their full potential.

To make things worse, with that in mind, when I evaluated the teaching and learning in my classroom, I realised that it was not fit for purpose. Regardless of the good observations, I couldn’t, hand on heart, say that the teaching and learning in my classroom inspired and enabled every individual to reach their full potential and develop their individual talents. So I changed it.

Forgive me for sharing this aspect but remember, teaching and learning first, tools second. What’s the point in having an axe if you don’t have a tree to cut down? So briefly, here I some of the things that I’ve done…

I scrapped whole class carpet time. I worked out that if children sit on the carpet for a 15min intro and plenary every lesson of every day from year 1 through to year 6, they will spend a total on 96 days (24hours) sitting in the carpet!
I asked the children what they wanted to learn about and how they wanted to learn it.
I completely changed the classroom layout. I scrapped set seating arrangements. I scrapped ability groups and therefore 4-way differentiation.
This is now my classroom layout. (See picture). It is based on a problem solving and development room at a company called Maya based in Pittsburgh. Children move freely around the area/zones. Differentiation is now 30-way, personalised to the needs, likes and talents of the individual. In essence, it’s personalised, project-based learning. This includes literacy and numeracy. Every child’s individual ability in these core areas are assessed and monitored daily, and individual targets are set and reviewed regularly on a 1:1 basis.
It’s messy… I’ve labelled it ‘messy learning’… But, I am confident that I now have a system in place that doesn’t kill creativity but rather encourages and engages children in learning. Most importantly I’m confident that we are developing an environment in which all children, supported by me (the facilitator), can begin to realise and reach their full potential.

So… Why iPads?

Well, this where ‘the right tool for the job’ becomes applicable. If I am expecting children to become responsible, enthusiastic consumers of knowledge, then 2 slow computers in the corner of the room are not fit for purpose. If am encouraging children to work collaboratively on creative projects, supporting them as they develop their artistic, musical and cinematic skills, then large, difficult to use, slow, fixed machines are not fit for purpose. If I am wanting to enable 21st century learners to reach their full potential and make a real difference in a 21st century world, driven by new technologies, then in my opinion, children need to be using and exploring the power of new technologies in a relevant way.

I’d like to finish by sharing my favourite use of the iPad… Blogging… The 16 iPads that I have in my classroom have really opened up a world of possibilities with regards to the sharing of learning and giving children’s work a wider audience. Children are now able to upload writing, pictures, videos etc to the class blog with the touch of a few buttons. Children can take a photo, using the iPad, describe what they have been learning to do and upload it for the world to see. Children do this during the school day and by the time they are collected by their parents, the parents can have seen what their children have been doing during the day and have a great discussion about it on the way home.

20121011-185425.jpg