Feedback is important to help our young learners continue to grow.  This includes feedback from teachers as well as feedback from peers.  Today, I am talking specifically about peer feedback.  Peer feedback can be very powerful if it is done effectively, and it can be integrated in many different  areas of the classroom. "Peer review facilitates the type of social interaction and collaboration that is vital for student learning." (from ReadWriteThink)

As teachers, we are always working to give students the feedback they need to move forward.  Ideally, our students will do the same for each other.  I have found that modeling, providing visuals, and direct coaching can all be effective in improving peer feedback.

One of the ways I model feedback is when we are sharing our work in math.  The goal for these feedback sessions is to give two compliments and one suggestion to whomever is sharing their work.  It can be a challenge at times for students to find a compliment for an incorrect answer or a suggestion for a correct answer.  This is a great opportunity to get students more invested in studying each others' processes, rather than just looking at the answer.  Here are a few examples of compliments and suggestions that I model in the classroom during this activity.

Compliments (for correct and incorrect answers)
*I like how you broke apart the numbers into tens and ones.
*I like how used a ten frame to solve the addition equation.
*I like how you showed that you counted by fives to get your answer.
*I like how you remembered to put a label on your answer.
*I like how you underlined the important information in the problem.
*I like how you showed all the steps on the number line.

Suggestions (for correct and incorrect answers)
*Show the step when you...
*Add a label to your answer.
*Start by writing the equation (if it's a word problem).
*Underline important information in the problem.
*Next time try a different strategy, like...
*Check the part when you...  

Eventually, I stop giving the compliments and suggestions, and allow students to do this.  After sharing work, students choose three students to give feedback (two compliments & one suggestion).  The student then thanks the class.  As the year goes on, students get more used to the type of feedback that helps their peers, and they need less prompting.

If a student gives a compliment like, "You wrote very neatly."  I agree with the compliment, and then I prompt the students to give an additional compliment about the mathematical thinking.

Provide Visuals
Visuals are great reminders for students.  In writing, students can use checklists to help decide how to compliment and offer suggestions.  Another thing I like to do is provide sentence starters.  In writing, the sentence starters are likely to be on a slide or an anchor chart.  

 I model how to use the sentence starters with my own writing or writing from a student.  Once the students have seen me give feedback, they use the prompts to provide feedback to their writing partners.  Below are two slides that I shared with students when doing a partner check in for our "How-to" writing projects.  Our big focus during this project was to make sure we had enough details and description for anyone to follow the directions.  (You can read more about How-to writing here.)

Direct Coaching
I started coaching partnerships more directly on their feedback after reading Jennifer Serravallo's book, A Teacher's Guide to Reading Conferences (HIGHLY recommended).  She devotes a section  on how to confer with partners.  In this section, she talks about teaching students how to help each other.  For example, instead of focusing on coaching a student to help them determine an unknown word, focus on coaching one partner to prompt the other like the teacher does.  Both partners benefit from this type of coaching.  One student is reminded of a strategy to help them problem-solve, and the other has learned about effective feedback and shown a higher level of understanding the concept.  Research shows that students truly learn when teaching others (Research Digest, 2018).

What are your favorite strategies to encourage effective peer feedback?  I'd love for you to share them.

Thank you!

As I start to plan for the 2020-2021 school year, I am determined to stay positive.  I am focusing on what went well last year (in class and through distance learning) as well as what I can do better this year.  As of now, I am planning to work in a hybrid model of in-class learning and distance learning.  I am excited that our district is working on finding ways to safely provide instruction to our students in person.

One resource that I used in class and relied heavily on during distance learning is Flipgrid.  Regardless of how the year unfolds, I am planning to take advantage of this wonderful free resource again this year.  Today, I am sharing three of my favorite ways I used Flipgrid during distance learning.  If you are reading this at a time when your school is no longer using distance learning, no worries.  These activities work in the classroom as well!

Three Great Ways to Use Flipgrid

If you are not familiar with Flipgrid, it is an awesome resource that allows students to record videos and share them with others in the class.  Students can view and comment on each other's videos.  You can read more about it and set up your own free account here.

There are many uses for this site, but here are my three favorites.

Explain Mathematical Thinking
One of the challenges in distance learning was that it was difficult to see students mathematical thinking.  I created several digital activities that required deep thinking.  However, students only submitted the answers in most cases.  I was able hear students explain through our conferences on Google Meet, but I was missing the component of students learning from each other.  

Here is an example of a digital math activity I assigned to my students.

Free Digital Resource - Get to 100
(Available here.)

After students completed the activity, they went on Flipgrid to record their thinking.  Students were also required to listen and respond to the three videos before theirs (at least).  This allowed students to see other ways to solve the problem.  It was also helpful for me to target my questioning when I met with students for our virtual conference.

How can this work at school?
Having everyone share their thinking will make students more accountable than if they know only a few will share.  There will be some logistics to consider, as everyone can not be recording at once.  Partner work/explanations should help with this.  Another option would be to have students record on different days.  When it is not your day to record, you can listen and respond.

Teaching students to give specific feedback is important.  You can read more about fostering effective peer feedback here.

Expand on Reading Responses
Throughout distance learning, I had my students fill out various organizers about their daily reading.  Periodically, I would have them expand their ideas on Flipgrid by providing more details and examples than were required on the organizer.  I always modeled this by sharing my written response with them.  (My written response was always based on a read aloud so all students were familiar with it.)  I also created a video for my students to use as a model.

Here is an example of an organizer I used.  (The boxes automatically respond as students type.)

Free Digital Resource - Facts, Events, Thoughts
(Available here.)

Details that could be added in the video include:
*Why do you think so?
*Explain your connection.
*Why do you feel that way?
*What about it reminds you of that?

How can this work at school?
Videos can never replace the valuable one on one conferences that we can have at school.  However, they make a great alternative for a handful of students you are not conferring with on a given day.  Students can work on applying the skills that are practiced during conferences and small groups and record their thoughts while the teachers works with others,

Practice Fluency
Practicing fluency on Flipgrid can be done at home or at school.  Students should practice a "just right" or easy text several times.  This works best if they pick a part with strong dialogue or action.  Once students feel confident in their ability to read the passage fluently, they can record themselves on Flipgrid.  Students can listen to their reading partners and offer compliments.


I want to stress that we worked on all of these skills (including feedback) in class before distance learning, and I provided both a written example and a sample video in all cases.  I met virtually with students as needed to help with elaborating.

Regardless of how the 2020-21 school year unfolds, I am sure to use all three of these with my students (as well as others).  Do you have a favorite way to use Flipgrid?  If so, I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Three Great Ways to Use Flipgrid

Thank you!
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