Reflecting on practice 2: Feedback


For a more detailed look at feedback read this great article from Dylan Wiliam called The Secret of Effective Feedback.

"But as many studies have shown, students often learn less when teachers provide feedback than they do when the teacher writes nothing (Kluger & DeNisi, 1996). The apparently simple process of looking at student work and then giving useful feedback turns out to be much more difficult than most people imagine. We could make the whole process considerably more effective by understanding one central idea: The only important thing about feedback is what students do with it." Dylan Wiliam 2016

Tips for improving practice and how leaders can help facilitate this

In the video below Dylan Wiliam gives his tips for changing practice. For the most part not new or earth shattering but a good reminder of how we should approach our professional learning.

Teacher tips for changing practice

  • Accept the need to get better.
  • Change is slow. Focus on 1-2 things at a time. Make them second nature.
  • If you have to remember to do it it is not second nature. 

Tips for leaders to help teachers to improve

  • Create a culture where every teacher  expects to improve.
  • Keep the focus on the things that make a difference to students.
  • Give teachers the time to innovate and try new ideas.
  • Create a culture of risk taking amongst teachers.

Technology, PE and Assessment for Learning

Dylan Wiliam presents 5 Key Strategies as part of Assessment for Learning.

  1. Clarifying, sharing and understanding learning intentions & success criteria.
  2. Eliciting evidence of learners’ achievements.
  3. Providing feedback that moves the learning forward.
  4. Activating students as instructional resources for one and other.
  5. Activating students as owners of their own learning.

These key strategies underpin a wide range of techniques that can be explored in Dylan Wiliam’s book, Embedded Formative Assessment.

For the past 2 years I have continued to develop and trial the use of technology in my PE classes. During term 1 this year I tried to incorporate the use of iPads and an app called Easytag to create an process that allowed Assessment for Learning to occur.

During my 7/8 volleyball and 9/10 badminton classes in term 1 this year I decided to use the iPad app Easytag to allow students to record data relating to their performance. The app allowed the class to record statistics relating to student performance. My 7/8 volleyball class collected data on successful digs, sets, serves and unsuccessful shots with the purpose of creating ratios of successful to unsuccessful shots. This occurred at various points throughout the unit to analyse if performance was improving and in what area. My 9/10 badminton class recorded where their badminton shuttle was landing in their opponents court during a game (front L/R, middle L/R and rear L/R). The purpose was to improve the spread of shots played i.e. not hitting all shots into the mid court. Both groups had to use this data to try and demonstrate improvement over the course of the unit.

9/10 Badminton – The Easytag panel was used by a partner to record a students shuttle placement during a competitive game. The example below is one of four panels recorded during the unit. This data was transferred to a proforma in the student’s PE book allowing for easy comparison. The data shows the student was able to improve their spread of shots to the front and rear of the court during the course of the unit.

Note: The data from the Easytag panels and student proforma below are not from the same student.

Panel (ignore the numbers in the far right column)

Seb set 1

Data from the Easytag app was collated on a single sheet. The aim was for students to improve the spread of shots, not having all shots in one area of the court.

Tiana badminton7/8 Volleyball – Students created panels in the Easytag app that displayed the information seen below on the recording proforma. Data was transferred from the app to this proforma so students could see improvement (or not) over time. The student below could see significant improvement from a ratio of approximately 1 successful to 1 unsuccessful shot at the beginning of the unit to a ratio of 4 successful shots to every unsuccessful shot near the end of the unit.

Cooper Volleyball

 

How has this use of technology helped me to address Dylan Wiliam’s Assessment for Learning Strategies?

Strategy – Eliciting evidence of learners’ achievement

The data was accessible to me on student iPads or in their HPE books for me to view. This information gave me starting points to have discussions with students about what could occur next at a lesson by lesson level. The data provided me with evidence of student learning at three different points during the term.

Reflection – I would have students complete at least one more set of data (most collected 3 data sets) to provide a more constant flow of evidence giving me a better picture of student learning and progress.

Strategy – Provide feedback that moves learning forward

The data was taken at varying points during the unit. The first set of data was taken at the beginning of the unit giving students a starting point to improve on. The second set of data gave students a further reference point indicating if they were heading in the right direction. Explicit teaching, lesson by lesson feedback about how to improve, student commitment and collaboration with peers was required to enable students to successfully use the data.

Reflection – As I have already mentioned I would try to include at least one more set of data during the unit. This would allow students (and me) to access more feedback about their progress at more regular intervals.

Strategy – Helps activate students as instructional resources for one and other

Students showed the data to their partner at the end of each game and quickly discussed strengths and weaknesses. There is no way that I could have assisted all students to collate and receive this amount of data over the course of the unit. Students became resources for each other providing data to move learning forward.

Reflection – I would strengthen these discussions. I did not monitor them closely and suspect that these were not as effective as they could have been. In the future I would include a more formal process of analysis to help students focus on the data more effectively.

Strategy – Activate students as owners of their own learning

Students had concrete data to work with. They could see areas of weakness i.e. I have no successful serves (7/8 volleyball) or I have not been able to hit any shots into the rear court (9/10 badminton). Students were encouraged to use this information to focus on how they could improve (own the learning).  It was entirely up to them to demonstrate through the data their learning over the course of the unit.

Reflection – While students were required to take ultimate responsibility to use the data to try and improve I needed to get around to students more regularly and have conversations about their data to help them direct there own learning.

QUESTION NUMBER 1 – How do you address the following key strategies of assessment for learning?

  1. Clarifying, sharing and understanding learning intentions & success criteria.
  2. Eliciting evidence of learners’ achievements.
  3. Providing feedback that moves the learning forward.
  4. Activating students as instructional resources for one and other.
  5. Activating students as owners of their own learning.

QUESTION NUMBER 2 – What techniques do you have at your disposal to address the 5 key strategies of Assessment for Learning?

1. Click HERE to read more about Assessment for Learning and access a range of techniques to help improve your ability to formatively assess your students.

Teacher Sharing – Formative Assessment

After attending Dylan Wiliam’s conference at the beginning of 2014 teaching staff decided that formative assessment would be a focus area for improving teaching practice at Port Broughton Area School.

As all teaching staff have now had the opportunity to see Dylan Wiliam in person (Joelene, Tyler, Beth and Margaret this term) it is a good opportunity to reflect of our formative assessment practices in the classroom and share with each other what we are doing in this area.

social-sharing

If you have not already read them or you are unsure about a particular strategy here are a series of posts that remind us about the 5 Key Strategies required for formative assessment. Each post in itself is quite short (5-8 minutes will be enough time to read them all). There are links within each post that take you to more detailed information.

  1. Clarifying, sharing, and understanding learning intentions and criteria for success
  2. Providing feedback that moves learners forward
  3. Activating students as owners of their own learning
  4. Activating students as instructional resources for one another
  5. Engineering effective classroom discussions, questions, and learning tasks that elicit evidence of learning

By the end of the term it would be great to have all teaching staff contribute to this sharing/discussion through the comments section of this post. Select one strategy below and share your practice in this area with others.

Suggestion – Write your comment in a Word document and save your writing. Then copy and paste from the Word document into the comments section of this post.

Select 1 of the following and discuss how you address this strategy in your classroom. Your discussion could focus on processes you use to address this strategy as well as successes and deficiencies in this area.

  • Clarifying, sharing, and understanding learning intentions and criteria for success
  • Providing feedback that moves learners forward
  • Activating students as owners of their own learning
  • Activating students as instructional resources for one another
  • Engineering effective classroom discussions, questions, and learning tasks that elicit evidence of learning

What can you do in the classroom to assess were your students are at?

Dylan Wiliam presents 5 Key Strategies for Assessment for Learning. Engineering effective classroom discussions, questions, and learning tasks that elicit evidence of learning is one of these.

What techniques do we employ in our classrooms to understand where our students are at and therefore how to move them forward?

The following information is from an article titled Planning for classroom activities that tell you what your students know.

  1. The teacher needs to see what all the students are doing.
  2. Check part way through lessons so you can still fix things.
  3. Check at a glance for what you will teach next.

To be able to do these things teachers need to have a variety of go to tools they can use to help them assess were students are at. Click HERE to find out about a wide range of tools that can be used to find out about where your students are at.

A short article titled Formative Assessment – the Minute by Minute, Day-by-Day Kind.

Why activate students as learning resources for one and other?

Dylan Wiliam presents 5 Key Strategies for Assessment for Learning. Activating students as instructional resources for one another is one of these.

The following information is from the following article Activating Learners as Instructional Resources.

Why should we develop our students ability to help other students?

  1. Motivation: The teacher structures the process so it is in a student’s interest to help others.
  2. Social Capital: Students perception of their value to others increases.
  3. Better Understanding: When you have to teach others, you have to understand an idea clearly. The stronger students improve by having to teach and the less competent improve because they have a second teacher.
  4. Activating learners as instructional resources for each other clearly helps learning in the short terms because it resolves questions more quickly and provides more feedback, both of which help learning right now.

Click HERE to read how questioning can help students be instructional resources for one and other.

Moving learning forward with feedback

Dylan Wiliam presents 5 Key Strategies for Assessment for Learning. Providing feedback that moves learners forward is one of these.

The following information is from an article titled Good Feedback.

So what is it about quality feedback?

  1. Feedback that moves the learning forward is one of the most critical elements in improving learning.
  2. Nearly 80% of the feedback students get is from peers, and most of it is incorrect – Teach students how to give good feedback.
  3. Everything (feedback) is designed to grow learning – something like “good job” doesn’t do that.
  4. Designed to reinforce a growth mindset.
  5. Most useful when it comes from multiple sources (self, other students, teachers, outside experts) that know how to give good feedback.

Hear how Dylan Wiliam describes feedback. Watch his video HERE. Listen to him discuss how feedback should cause thinking, not be ego involving and create a growth mindset.

 

Why is it important to share and clarify learning intentions and success criteria?

Dylan Wiliam presents 5 Key Strategies for Assessment for Learning. Clarifying, sharing, and understanding learning intentions and criteria for success is one of these.

The following information is taken from an article titled Learning intentions and criteria and Dylan Wiliam’s Embedding Formative Assessment.

Why is clarifying the learning intention a good idea?

  1. Because students are much more likely to achieve a learning intention they understand, ensuring the learning intention and criteria is very clear are really important.

How might this look?

  1. Provide models and samples so students can really see what this looks like and compare it to other students samples at their own level.
  2. Work together to make a list of what it would look like to meet the learning intention.
  3. Use student friendly language not curriculum (ACARA) language.
  4. There is no one right way to present learning intentions. Wiliam’s even suggests (pg 56 Embedding Formative Assessment) that sometimes it is not beneficial to tell the students what the lesson is about if that impacts on the way students will go about solving a problem, in say maths.

Click HERE to read about how the NSW Education Department suggests teachers go about presenting learning goals to their students.

The positive impact of self assessment

Dylan Wiliam presents 5 Key Strategies for Assessment for Learning. Activating students as owners of their own learning is one of  these. How often do we get our students to reflect on their learning asking them to self assess on a regular basis? How worthwhile is it to do this?

The following information is from a blog post titled Self-Regulation of Learning Leads to Student Performance Improvement written by Kelly Goodrich. This can be read in full here.

  1. For students to become actively engaged with the learning process they need guidelines and opportunities to learn and engage in self-assessment.
  2. Engaging in the process of thinking about and assessing their own learning and then using feedback to improve requires students to take responsibility for their learning.
  3. Students who are provided with regular opportunities and encouragement to engage in self-assessment are more likely to attribute their learning to internal beliefs  i.e they feel they can impact on their own learning through effort and study (growth mindset).

Click HERE to see how one teacher scaffolds to help her students to self assess.

PBAS Teacher Learning 2015

Professional Learning

John Hattie – Hattie’s research tells us the most important factor in student learning, within the school, is the teacher. It is not, among others, funding, school buildings, ICT or how good your camps program is. While all of these are valuable it is teacher quality in the classroom that has the biggest impact.

Dylan Wiliam believes “every teacher needs to get better”, not just those that are seen as struggling but every teacher. Taught for one year? Taught for 25 years? The teaching landscape is constantly changing and we must change with it demonstrating the attributes we seek in our students as learners.

AITSL – The crucial role of the teacher – ‘The greatest resource in Australian schools is our teachers. They account for the vast majority of expenditure in school education and have the greatest impact on student learning, far outweighing the impact of any other education program or policy’.

Below are some examples of types of professional learning. This list is not exhaustive but does provide a variety of types of professional learning:

  • Conferences
  • Workshops
  • Face to face professional learning communities
  • Online professional learning communities
  • Professional reading (education publications)
  • Professional reading (online including blogs, Twitter, education publications)
  • Classroom observations (peer to peer)
  • Student feedback
  • Visit another school

Professional learning should not be seen as “the extra thing we need to do” or “the 60 hours we need to keep our registration”. It should be seen as a part of our job that is central to our role as educators.

Classroom Observations and Student Feedback

Classroom observations and student feedback provide a different lens for us to view our teaching by. In a supportive and committed environment were all staff help each other to develop their practice this lens can be a valuable learning tool.

For example, without the help of an observer or student feedback we may never identify that:

  • we don’t use small group work effectively
  • we only ever use direct instruction
  • we talk too much and do not allow for student input during class
  • we heavily weight our questions to the boys and forget the girls
  • we only ever use closed questions
  • we only ever call on the loudest children at the front of the class
  • we rarely give students options and choice
  • we provide little formative feedback
  • we never ask our students to use higher order thinking skills
  • we forget to find out what students already know
  • we need help developing relationships in our class
  • we do not challenge our students regularly enough
  • we only ever use one method with students to communicate their learning i.e. essay writing

Below is an example timeline of undertaking observations and collecting student feedback.

  1. Term 2 2015
    1. Student feedback – TfEL Compass survey tool. Domain 2 Create safe conditions for rigorous learning.
    2. Classroom observation week 7 Focus  – questioning
    3. Classroom observation week 8 Focus – questioning
    4. Classroom observation week 9 Focus – questioning
  2. Term 3 2015
    1. Student feedback – TfEL Compass survey tool. Domain 3 Develop expert learners.
  3. Term 4 2015
    1. Student feedback – TfEL Compass survey tool. Domain 4 Personalise and connect learning.

While undertaking this plan during terms 2-4 constant consideration must be given to changes that can improve your teaching. 

The PBAS Classroom Observation Process

The Foundation Document

This document should be an integral part of the observational process. It allows teachers to see what is considered quality teaching. The document should be used as a starting point for professional discussions and classroom observations and can be found in your white PD folders.

Peer observers

Observers should be people who are respected and trusted by their colleagues.

Pre observation meeting

The observer and the teacher need to agree and be clear to what the observation is about. This needs to be specific and easily definable. Consideration needs to be given to where this fits with TfEL, the Australian Professional Standards and School Priorities.

Observe the lesson and the learners

What are the students doing, writing and saying? There should be no hidden agendas. The focus of the observation should be about improving student learning and not ranking/grading the teacher. A new observation tool will be implemented in 2015 based around TFEL but with the flexibility for the teacher to focus on what is most relevant to them at that point in time. This proforma can be accessed by clicking here.

Follow up meeting

Both parties will meet after the observation preferably within 48 hours and discuss professional development ideas. Initially the meeting needs to provide specific feedback based on the original goals set prior to the observation. After this questions like, “How can I use the feedback to improve future lessons?”, “Where to now?”, “How will I get there?” and “When will my next observation occur?” are important to consider in terms of improving teacher quality. There are a number of reflective questions on the back of the 2015 observation proforma we discussed in our week 1 staff meeting.