It’s the first weekend of winter break (wooohoo!) and I’m sipping chai, nibbling on fresh baked chocolatey-chipped cookies, listening to a Vintage and Rare playlist on Spotify, and playing with kitties. Life is good. The human part of me is loving this moment, but she is interrupted by the teacher part of me who is gently whispering, “You should not waste this time. You need to be working.”
Fine! But I don’t want to do anything too serious. Then I remember the student survey I created at the end of the final. I should really look at that and see how my kiddos feel about the writing process. As an SDC English teacher, my teacher life often exists in a huge vacuum. I create my own finals, formative and benchmark assessments. I create my own pie charts and bar graphs to show administration student progress. And now, I must figure out what to do with student feedback. In preparation for writing this blog post, I realized there are three simple steps for using student feedback.
At the end of the final (I use Google Forms and Flubaroo for the
auto-grading option to make the last week a breeze) I created a three question survey to see how students felt about their essay writing abilities and also to discover their preference for reading more complex texts.
There are three simple steps for utilizing student feedback:
Step One: Read and Smile
Yes, this is an actual step. I didn’t realize this until I did it. For the prompt: How well do you understand writing a formal paper?–a student responded: Nothing, I feel confident in writing a paper. Yes, this is a cut-and-paste of the student’s actual response. How could you not smile reading that? How many of you have that student?
In contrast, every other student replied with a very specific response. Additionally, most students used academic language to identify their own areas of weakness in the writing process. To illustrate student concern’s about their writing, the following are cut-and-paste replies:
- I feel that I need to improve on lengthening and elaborating more on topics and on my analysis of paragraphs, that way my essays and/or formal papers are not so short, sweet, and to the point.
- I need to improve in my thesis statements.
- I need to improve My introduction paragraphs.
- I need to improve on spelling and elaborating.
Each student identified a specific area that they personally wanted to improve upon; if that doesn’t make you smile. . .
Step Two: Aggregate the Data
I made a very rudimentary Google Sheet to see the student responses:
In this simple snapshot, I can see how students feel about their writing skills. The bottom two show very insightful students who realize they each have the academic skills to complete writing tasks; however, their struggles lie elsewhere.
Step Three: Reflect and Plan
Obviously step three is the most important part of the process, but you must do the first two steps to get there. In viewing my snapshot, I can easily see that students are not confident in their writing skills when it comes to writing a thesis statement and elaborating in their supporting paragraphs. I can easily give mini-lessons to address these particular skills in the first week back. But what about the other students and their specific needs? How do I address each of those concerns? To be honest, this is always the question for English teachers. I think this coming semester I’m going to play with the idea of using stations on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to help more students specifically with writing and research skills. I will write a future post about those plans—but for now, I want to go back to playing with kitties and taking my dog out for a long walk! It’s time to be human again.
How do you put student feedback into an actionable plan?