Learning and Teaching at Gilson College

Learning for living, Character for life, Hope for the Future


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‘Making Time for Feedback’ by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey

More on formative assessment and feedback from ASCD’s September 2012 edition of Educational Leadership journal:

‘Feedback for Learning’

Douglas and Nancy write:

‘Teachers don’t need to mark every mistake a student makes. Here re some smart ways to save time and give great feedback.

Ask any teacher what he or she needs more of, and it’s a good bet that time will top the list. Anything that promises to recoup a little bit of our workday time is sure to be a best seller.

One overlooked time-saver is in how we use feedback. Teachers know that feedback is important for teaching and learning. Unfortunately, most secondary teachers have far too many students to make it realistic to provide individual, face-to-face feedback, so they rely on written feedback to do the heavy lifting. In an attempt to provide students with information about their performance regularly, they grade papers until the wee hours, writing carefully constructed comments in the margin.

Too often, this type of feedback transfers the responsibility for learning back to students, who have little understanding of what they need to do next…’ READ ON…

Two videos are also attached to the article:

1. EL editor-in-chief Marge Scherer’s interview with Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey.

2. Algebra teacher Ben Teichman from Health Sciences High in San Diego answers Nancy Frey‘s questions about feedback

Source: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept12/vol70/num01/Making-Time-for-Feedback.aspx#interview

Related articles:

‘Feedback for Learning: Seven Keys to Effective Feedback’, Grant Wiggins in Educational Leadership (gilsoncollegelandt.wordpress.com)
Seven Keys to Effective Feedback (annmic.wordpress.com)


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‘Feedback for Learning: Seven Keys to Effective Feedback’, Grant Wiggins in Educational Leadership

From ASCD, Educational Leadership Journal: September 2012 | Volume 70 | Number 1  Feedback for Learning Pages 10-16

In his article ‘Feedback for Learning: Seven Keys to Effective Feedback’, Grant Wiggins writes:

‘…Advice, evaluation, grades—none of these provide the descriptive information that students need to reach their goals. What is true feedback—and how can it improve learning?

Who would dispute the idea that feedback is a good thing? Both common sense and research make it clear: Formative assessment, consisting of lots of feedback and opportunities to use that feedback, enhances performance and achievement.

Yet even John Hattie (2008), whose decades of research revealed that feedback was among the most powerful influences on achievement, acknowledges that he has “struggled to understand the concept” (p. 173). And many writings on the subject don’t even attempt to define the term. To improve formative assessment practices among both teachers and assessment designers, we need to look more closely at just what feedback is—and isn’t…’

What Is Feedback, Anyway?…’ Read on for the full article:

Educational Leadership: Feedback for Learning: Seven Keys to Effective Feedback

Then, on his blog ‘Granted, but…‘, Wiggins writes more on this subject and includes some tangible steps to providing and developing effective feedback, that  teachers might use with their students, as well as links for his final draft for the EL article and a PowerPoint, which provide fuller thinking on the topic. Find that ‘On Feedback’ blog post here.


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How useful and effective is homework?

Mathematics homework

What is the value of homework? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently my two daughters whose children are at different ends of the education continuum (one has a boy in his first year of school, and the second a boy in Year 10 and a girl in Year 9), raised with me the issue of the relevance and value of their children’s homework.

Then within the space of two days the subject of effective and relevant homework was also brought up during a school leadership meeting.  

And we all know that this topic also pops up in the media from time to time.

I’ve had the following article bookmarked for a couple of years and while I wish to share it with those involved in the conversations mentioned above, I thought I would also repost it here for the benefit of readers who may also deal with the issue of the effectiveness and relevance of homework from time to time.

The article is

Five Hallmarks of Good Homework

Cathy Vatterott, in this article published online on ASCD’s Educational Leadership website, reinforces my views ad the answer I gave my daughters as I recommended that they approach my grandchildren’s teachers with their concerns.

Cathy writes

 ‘Homework shouldn’t be about rote learning. The best kind deepens student understanding and builds essential skills…’

Cathy Vatterott goes on to write:

‘…For tonight’s homework,

  • Write the 10 spelling words 3 times each.
  • Write definitions of the 15 science vocabulary words.
  • Do the math problems on page 27, problems 1–20 on dividing fractions.

 Check any homework hotline, and you’re likely to find similar homework assignments, which look an awful lot like those we remember from school. But do these tasks really reinforce learning? Do they focus on rote learning—or on deeper understandings?

The Fundamental Five

The best homework tasks exhibit five characteristics.

  • First, the task has a clear academic purpose, such as practice, checking for understanding, or applying knowledge or skills.
  • Second, the task efficiently demonstrates student learning.
  • Third, the task promotes owner ship by offering choices and being personally relevant.
  • Fourth, the task instills a sense of competence—the student can success fully complete it without help.
  • Last, the task is aesthetically pleasing—it appears enjoyable and interesting (Vatterott, 2009)…’ Read more…

EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP ASCD Online August 2011 | Volume 68

Best of Educational Leadership 2010–2011 Pages 10-15

My advice to my daughters was to approach their children’s teachers to discuss the relevance and value of homework given, and my advice to teachers would be please make sure homework is related directly to what you are teaching right now as well as to the learning intentions that you have outlined to your students.

For reflection:

  • Do you believe homework is necessary and valuable to student learning and achievement?
  • What homework do you give?
  • What do you do to make sure the homework set supports your present teaching and learning goals for your students?