We <3 Feedback

Our 2nd graders’ exploration into Monarch Butterflies this past fall opened their eyes to the winged critters’ 3,000 mile migration to the warmer climates of Mexico and California to escape New England’s harsh winter weather (that we’ve grown all too familiar with this year). Their Expeditionary Learning task this winter has been to research other critters who live close-by in hopes of opening Monarch Butterflies’ eyes to some alternative “wintering” habits. The final product will be a collection of chapters written from the perspective of the critters who are eager to share their winter habits.

This exploration has provided a powerful context for learning how to effectively collaborate, and the kids are learning to look at their classmates as colleagues who can help. By providing helpful feedback, their colleagues can guide them towards more specific questions as they read to gather more information, point to particular pieces of their scientific drawings that can be tweaked to be more accurate, or suggest different word choices in their writing to help them develop a voice that hooks their audience.
Providing these types of feedback has become an ongoing piece of this exploration’s process, and the 2nd graders have been framing their feedback with these guiding questions:

  • Do you understand what they’re trying to help you improve? (What could you do if you don’t understand?)
  • Can you point to the place in your work where they’re trying to help you? (What could you do if you can’t point to the place?)
    Did they give you examples of how you can improve this part of your work? (What could you do if they didn’t give you examples?)

These questions help to scaffold both the thinking that goes into giving feedback, and the thinking that goes into receiving feedback; two opposite but important pieces of the feedback loop that colleagues need to be aware of to effectively collaborate.

The 2nd graders’ final products - the published chapters - will provide some concrete evidence of the Learning Targets that they’ve aimed for as Writers. We should all look forward to seeing and celebrating those published pieces, but we should also remember to reflect on the process these learners have experienced. They have been busy as Readers, Writers and Scientists these past few months, but perhaps the most lasting Learning Targets they’ve aimed for have been imbedded in the collaboration that has helped them get to this point.

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