The power of collaborative learning

#BreakfastClub #Feedback #PedagooFriday

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Danielle Kestenbaum is a Teacher of English at Aldenham School, who is currently editing the Teach Aldenham blog. She recently led a Breakfast Club Session on ‘Feedback.’

One of the most effective uses of a teacher’s time is in giving good feedback – which should be specific and encouraging. (Sutton Trust May 2011)


Bellon et al. state that: ‘academic feedback is more strongly and consistently related to achievement than any other teaching behaviour…this relationship is consistent regardless of grade, socioeconomic status, race, or school setting.’

Research suggests that good assessment is all about encouraging students to reflect on their current performance.  The best way to do this is for the teacher to give qualitative feedback or comment-only marking.

  • Research showed that when students were given a grade only, it had 0% impact on their future performance as a reflective learner.
  • When students were given both a grade and a comment, the grade overshadowed the comment and had 0% impacton future performance as a reflective learner.
  • But….when students were given COMMENTS ONLY,  future performance increased by 30%

Some feedback strategies that I use:

Anonymous post-it starters and exit tickets: Students have the opportunity to feed back on what they have learnt/need to learn anonymously. AND everyone has to participate.

Stand, crouch or sit: Students stand, crouch or sit depending on whether they feel comfortable with the learning, in the middle or unsure. Students who are standing can be asked to go around the room and explain to crouchers, who in turn explain to sitters until, hopefully, everyone in the room is happy to stand up.

Fingers:  A nuanced version of thumbs and traffic lights. Students hold up fingers accordingly:

1 – I am fully confident with the learning

2 – I am confident with most of the learning

3 – Some parts I am confident with, other bits I am not sure

4 – I am only happy with a few parts of the learning

5 – I am having difficulty understanding any part

WWW; EBI (What went well? Even Better If) 

-Student sometimes must fill in their own EBI

-For higher ability students, EBI will consist of a question ‘Can you add a simile?’

-EBI will be specific – for example, rewrite paragraph 2 with a focus on the language

5-10 minutes given at the start of a class for this.

Lolly sticks or name generator: enables you to randomly question students in the class of varying abilities




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