Top 5 Ways to Provide Meaningful Feedback for Students

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Providing immediate, meaningful feedback to students has been a challenge for teachers as long as education has existed. The story goes something like this: If a teacher 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 Doc Stickers.  You can use Google Keep to save Bitmojis of yourself or other images you can then use as “Doc Stickers” that you can drag and drop onto student work. If students are working in a Google Doc and you’d like to leave a Doc Sticker as feedback, use Google Keep to access your saved feedback Bitmojis from the side panel.

#4 Use Google Keep to Store Feedback. Also, use Google Keep notes to store comments with instructional links so that you can easily pull over all the information a student needs to understand the error and correct it.  THEN, you can 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. If you’d like to learn more about using Google Keep take our FREE online course, Spark Joy with Google Keep.

#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.

Find out more about FREE Screencastify plans for Teachers now.

#2 Use your voice to leave feedback. The free teacher premium version of Read&Write from Texthelp is our favorite tool for this. 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!To learn more about meaningful feedback for students, check out our Beyond the Red Pen asynchronous online course!

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Amy Mayer, nationally known speaker and Google professional development guru, got her start in education as an English and Foreign Language teacher. Since that time, she’s served as a district level director of multiple varieties and now is the CEO of friEdTech, a Google & Microsoft partner company serving districts across the United States. Amy is passionate about student (and teacher) engagement and equity in education.

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