## Tuesday, September 9, 2014

### Written Feedback: Four Cases

Four quick summaries of the problems that students worked on, and the feedback that I gave each group the next day. A snapshot of the group's product before and after feedback.

Case 1: Handshakes and Diagonals
1. How many handshakes would it take for us to all shake hands?
2. How many diagonals does a square have? A pentagon? A hexagon? Find a relationship between the number of sides and the number of diagonals.

Case 2: Grids and Squares

How many squares can you find on this square grid? How about on this array of dots?

Case 3: Nets of Cubes

How many nets does a cube have?

Case 4: Cross-sections of Cubes

Here's a list of shapes. Can these shapes be the cross-section of a cube?

Questions:
1. Were all of these pieces of feedback equally effective, based on the whiteboards alone?
2. Each of these pieces of feedback were printed out and handed to a group. Would oral feedback have been better here?
3. Each of these pieces of feedback ended with a question. Would a direct suggestion have been more effective here?

1. Hi Michael,

For the first two white boards, you gave specific two strategies to the students for what to do next and used the language "I wonder...". The "I wonder..." stands out to me since it reveals your thinking as the teacher. It comes across as more of a suggestion for what you would want to do next and hinting at what your students should do next.

I do like that the pieces of feedback were printed out. You acknowledge students line of reasoning and summarize what they have already attempted to do. Students can also refer back to the paper if they forget what you said or if they follow a line of reasoning that leads them to a dead end.

For case 2 feedback, working from a smaller problem and how the squares are counted are both important for generalizing the initial question. I'm wondering what the students white board would like if you asked "How did you arrive at your total count of squares? Can you show me this? (not tell)".

Do you typically offer a specific strategy for students or do you ask students what strategies they have tried and what else they think might work?

I'm also wondering if students fall back to a poster of general strategies (i.e. Polya's Problem Solving Techniques) or something similar when working on these problems together.

I'm also wondering how often you gave feedback to the group. Was it a one time thing or did you give verbal feedback while students worked?

Thanks for sharing.

1. I do like that the pieces of feedback were printed out.

The more I think about feedback, the more I think that written feedback has some secret advantages over oral feedback. You just pointed out another one to me. Thanks!

Do you typically offer a specific strategy for students or do you ask students what strategies they have tried and what else they think might work?

In conversation I do that all the time, but as written feedback I don't see how that could work.

The kids don't really fall back to a poster of strategies. I tend to think that those sorts of strategies are too abstract for kids anyway.

I give verbal feedback all the time, informally. But formal feedback is different, and I aim to offer it once or (ideally) twice a week. I gave it today, for instance.

Thanks for the comment and questions!