Updated: Nov 14, 2019
Providing feedback to students has been the bane of a good teacher’s existence for as long as education has existed. The story goes something like this: If the teachers spends ten minutes “marking” a paper, the student will spend ten seconds looking at and taking in the information. There are few arguments to the contrary . . . students, generally speaking, are not using teacher feedback that is presented in writing to improve.
There was a year of my teaching career when I had to make a deal with myself, and I hope you’ll think about making it with yourself, too. Here’s the deal . . .
“If it won’t get me fired, and it doesn’t help students learn, I’m going to stop doing it.”
When I made this decision, it was both freeing and terrifying. It meant that I had to stop “grading” the mounds of essays that came my way weekly, after all, I could not justify the time. I knew that, by and large, the marks were not helping students learn. So, what would I do instead? That question led to months and then years of searching for ways to leave feedback students would use to learn while spending a commensurate time in the process.
And, after all these years, I think I have some ideas that might help, so, without further ado, here are my top 5 ways to provide meaningful feedback for students that won’t break your weekend plans . . .
#5 Use Bitmojis of yourself to create “Doc Stickers” that you can drag and drop into/onto a student’s work. If students are working through Google Docs, use Google Keep to see all of your feedback Bitmojis saved in Keep from the side panel.
#4 Save comments with instructional links to Google Keep so that you can easily pull over all the information a student needs to understand the error and correct it; THEN, require the student to understand and correct only a few types of errors per assignment. For a struggling student, trying to correct ALL forms of errors at once is probably not effective for learning and integrating new knowledge.
#3 Use Screencastify (my personal favorite screencasting tool) to give feedback with your voice and even a video of yourself for added personality. There’s a little example below; if you don’t teach writing; don’t despair, students can turn in any image of their work so that you can give feedback with video. For example, in math, have students work out one problem showing ALL their work so that you can talk to each of them individually about where things might have gone wrong. Screencastify is free for educators with some limitations: Each video can be up to 10 minutes long (go for 3 minutes or less) and you can make up to 50 videos per month. However, the best news is, you can get premium Screencastify for only $29/year as an individual educator or much less if your whole school subscribes.
#2 Use your voice to leave feedback with the free teacher premium version of Read&Write from Texthelp. This amazing feature lands at #2 for its ease of use AND totally free price. Students will need the free student version (which they’ll have after 30 days of Read&Write premium expires. Install it here; apply for the free teacher premium version here so that after your premium subscription expires, you will retain this feature!
#1 AND the number ONE way to leave feedback for student writers is through a new tool also from one of my favorite companies, Texthelp, called WriQ. For this one, you’re just going to have to watch the video because otherwise, I honestly don’t know if you’d believe what this tool does . . .
I sincerely hope you’ve learned some new ways to provide feedback to your students that will both save you time and increase absorption for students. If you like this article, please don't forget to share it through your social media channels, and encourage fellow teachers to learn along with you. Thanks for reading and have a great day!