Feedback is an important tool that teachers can use to inform their instruction and assessment—it helps teachers gauge student understanding and evaluate their own teaching practices.
Although feedback is often traditionally viewed as written on assignments, technology provides a variety of ways for teachers to provide it. Authentic and differentiated methods of feedback can be more engaging and effective for students and teachers, in addition to enhancing the learning process and supporting understanding on both sides.
One useful method is visual feedback. In this process, feedback is collected in the form of an image, video, or piece of art. Inspired by the idea of a word cloud, I recently used the strategy of One-Word Feedback to create a visual product. I asked students to give me feedback using just one word. Then I analyzed their responses and input the data into a word cloud app, which allowed us to see the feedback in a visual format.
I asked my students to give a one-word summation on their first semester of class as a whole using a Google Form with the prompt, “Mrs. Gehr’s class is…” One-Word Feedback strategies can be utilized in a variety of ways to support teachers’ professional growth as well as help their students achieve learning goals. Offering this method as a reflective tool to my students helped me learn how to meet their needs as their teacher. Their feedback sparked a discussion on how to conduct class for the following semester.
I put the word cloud up on a slide presentation to help ring a bell and get ideas flowing. Then I had the students write down their responses to the image: What did they notice? What were their takeaways? After that, we talked about the results of the survey, and used the results to reflect on their experiences in class. We talked about things that were working in class, like the types of texts, activities, and assessments. We also talked about things they wanted to change.
This feedback method is also effective for helping teachers evaluate projects, for assessments, or to rate books that are read in class. The benefit of using this type of feedback is that teachers can generate a literal picture of the feedback. Students and teachers can engage with the image instead of only using writing on a paper.
Audio feedback is another way to differentiate the methods of feedback in the classroom. Mote is a great digital tool that enables teachers to deliver audio feedback to students. It is a downloadable Chrome extension that allows teachers to record their responses to student work. By simply clicking on the purple “M” icon, you can record your feedback.
Teachers can use this tool on many different applications. It can be used on all Google Tools, like Docs and Slides, but it can also be used on email. Students can utilize this method of feedback to hear it as many times as needed. One drawback of using Mote is that there’s a limited amount of recording time (about 30 seconds) for each section. However, this short time frame can motivate educators to really think about the quality of their feedback to ensure that it’s concise and meaningful.
Mote is also a helpful tool for universal design for learning in that it provides an alternative method of receiving information. Instead of just reading feedback that they get, students can listen to it—as many times as needed.
Other Methods of Feedback
Pear Deck, an interactive slides presentation tool, enhances students’ learning experience because teachers can use it to receive detailed student input throughout a lesson. For example, teachers can create multiple-choice questions to gauge understanding during the lesson. Also, teachers can have students type or draw responses to questions and prompts. Teachers can then use this student feedback to inform their future instruction and assessment.
Google Docs is another helpful tool to share feedback with students during writing instruction. As students workshop their writing, teachers can use the comments button to leave feedback on specific parts of student writing. Students can see this feedback, revisit it as necessary, and resolve the comment when completed. The comments feature can ensure that students have seen your feedback, whereas they might forget a face-to-face conversation.
Teachers can also use this feature for accountability because students can’t resolve comments on their documents until they are revised. They can ensure that the students received the feedback and had the opportunity for revision. In my class, students can’t submit their final drafts if there are still comments on their document. This way, I can ensure that students have not only seen my feedback but also interacted with it in order to improve their writing.
Teachers and students can use the chat feature in Google Docs to talk in real time about their writing. This makes communication extremely convenient and accessible for all students.