What does Feedback look like in the 21st Century?


Here’s a quick post that is inspired by a guilt trip from my crusty-worthy, I mean Trustworthy colleague, Timmy Rollwagen. My action plan has really centered around feedback and using technology to improve the quality, timeliness, and effectiveness of my feedback. As an English teacher, I’m constantly behind in my marking. And, as I pour my heart and soul into the annotations on student products, I’ve come to realize one immutable fact: students usually don’t read what I write on the side of their essays.

So, what am I doing about it… now that I’ve been inspired by my Cohort 21 cult? Well, here’s a snapshot of three initiatives I’m taking (some low-tech, some high-tech) that I feel are improving student feedback:

#1: GO Pro! Using the Go Pro camera in my classroom has been an interesting addition, but one that I feel is working well. Our AP Prep Language and Comp class has been focused on a non-fiction unit centered around Harkness Discussions. I have been filming the discussions, and then posting those vids to a location where all of the students can watch the discussion over and see how they did. Students who missed the discussion can also watch. One big benefit took place when a student who disagreed with my evaluation was able to watch the video with me, and we could really focus on areas for improvement and strength. Here’s a link to one clip from a discussion: Harkness in progress, AP Prep.

#2: GO Old-School! Displaying student feedback and learning has been an awesome addition to our classroom. During Harkness discussions, students who are observing complete “Reverse Peer Feedback” sheets that they give to an individual who is participating in the Harkness. In addition, a student “tracks” the discussion flow with a diagram. Displaying the anecdotal feedback plus the diagram flow-charts has created a space for “Visible Learning” that the students truly appreciate. Here’s an example of our Feedback Wall:

Harkness feedback

#3: Video feedback. Recently I have started using an app called “Monosnap”. In addition to being a great screenshot tool, it has been the easiest screencasting tool I have used all year. I have tried many different products, but Monosnap is the easiest and most effective. It allows me to record my screen, including a view of me in the corner plus the rubric or assignment I am discussing, and then at the end upload it to “the cloud”, where I can get a link to paste in an email to the student. I have also started to use this when I’m away from class due to sports; I will create a video explaining that day’s lesson, and the students seem to appreciate this.  Here’s a quick link to one of my feedback videos using Monosnap: Student feedback example.

Overall, making the feedback VISIBLE, ACCESSIBLE, TIMELY, and INTERESTING has resulted in improved student engagement and, I believe, better student results. I am getting feedback on what is working and what is not, and that only makes my teaching better.



7 thoughts on “What does Feedback look like in the 21st Century?

  1. We need to chat, your Harkness tracking is amazing and glad to see the realizations and reflections on what you are doing in the classroom. The tracking system that is built into your Harkness discussions are such a great way to keep accountability in focus. It also really describes the engagement in your classes. Well done. I’d love to do this in any regular classroom as an observation. I’m also glad to see my guilt tripping has proven to be successful.

  2. Fantastic work Brent. This three pronged approach to deeper understanding is also establishing a culture of thinking in your class

  3. As I was in your classroom – again!- yesterday, I see the Visible Thinking with the Harkness student tracking sheets. It is a visible indicator of the process of thinking, the collaborating, the communicating that is valued in that classroom. Students or adults who enter for the first time would see what learning is cherished and facilitated in this room. Bravo.

  4. What a great post Brent! I would love to see this in action, can I come by your class sometime after the March Break? Let’s touch base to see what blocks would work later in the month.

    I especially like your closing remarks on feedback – it’s a two way street in the classroom and it’s great you’re making room for that.


  5. This is amazing and I plan on stealing most everything you have outlined here. So thank you for sharing your brain and making me a better teacher.

    Question about the video feedback: I’ve been admiring this in theory for a while now and I’m wondering if there is any time saved by dictating your feedback for the students? Also, is there a way that you can check to see if your students have actually watched the video (or, even if there is a way, do you structure some way that encourages students to take that feedback on, like needing to respond to you or submit another copy?)

    I struggle with feedback in the same way, and want to craft some level of accountability for my students to be encouraged to absorb that feedback, or do something with it, as that is how they will actually learn and grow.

    Would love to pick your brain on this one!

  6. Hi Brent. Thanks for sharing your ideas of the utilizing the Go Pro camera and visually displaying students’ work. Glad that they are make your Action Plan focus of feedback successful. I really like the Go Pro Camera You Tube Channel. No sure if it is useful to show in class but the videos are pretty amazing! All the best, Sara

  7. Hi Brent,

    great post! I think you speak for a lot of us, when you state:

    “And, as I pour my heart and soul into the annotations on student products, I’ve come to realize one immutable fact: students usually don’t read what I write on the side of their essays.”

    To varying degrees, this is something I have felt in my classes over the years. I love the solutions you have listed, and will spend some time checking these out.



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