Skip to main content

They're Quite Aware What They're Going Through



This post picks up where the last one left off. That post discussed how I'm trying to make outcomes more clear to students.  This post will focus on the feedback from students.

In a great blog post, George Couros states that “Empathy is where innovation begins.” By empathy, Couros means that we are able to see our the learning experience from the perspective of our learners. There are many ways to do this, but I have found the easiest and most powerful way to gain insight into the learner experience to ask for it. As Bowie says about the youth, “They’re quite aware of what they’re going through.”

I have found three keys to getting good constructive feedback of their classroom experience from students
  1. Make it anonymous.
  2. Give them write in their own words don’t stop at questions that are simply “agree”/“disagree” or a Likert Scale.
  3. The most important key is to act on the feedback. If you want students to express meaningful feedback, show them their feedback is meaningful.

In the previous post I left off at the point of collecting data from learners.  This week, I collected feedback from students via a Google Form.  

Student Feedback via Google Form

Traditionally, the classroom feedback I ask students for at the end of a unit on at the end of each unit usually focuses on three statements.
  1. This helped me learn.
  2. This didn’t help me learn.
  3. Could we try this in class to help my learning.

These three statements help me focus on what is working for learners and should keep on doing, what isn’t working for some learners and could be modified, and what I should be doing that I haven’t.

Since I was also looking for feedback on the use of objectives and rubrics, I included questions on those as well.  These were simple yes or no responses with space for students to elaborate on their feelings.

I’m presenting the data below with some student comments that struck a chord with me presented in italics.


Feedback on Outcomes

Screen Shot 2016-09-19 at 2.45.32 PM.png


Organizing the information that I learned helped because it helped me keep the ideas separate from one another so I did not get topics confused with one another.
Dividing the unit into parts helped organize what major concepts relate the most to each other.
I thought it was nice to know which sections we needed help on and what specific areas could be improved upon. Also it made learning easier where we could tackle one section at a time instead of throwing it all at us and as a result; overwhelmed students.
It helped my learning because all of the related things were grouped together, which made sense to me.
Because it allowed me to understand what the key points were that I had to understand in order to complete the unit.
I need to have information organized because that helps me visualize and remember the notes.
The organization allowed me to understand one thing at a time, so I was not overwhelmed. It seemed the material came a little bit at a time, so it was manageable.

Takeaways: The feedback couldn’t be more clear.  Students were very positive about using learning outcomes to organize content in our unit.  I think most students look for any organizing factors to hang new information on.  So, structuring by outcome helped students organize info in a meaningful way.

Action Steps: Moving forward, I hope to keep hitting on the learning outcomes and how new content relates to the outcome.


Feedback on Rubric

Screen Shot 2016-09-19 at 2.45.40 PM.png

It could've been more detailed in what to do
less abbreviation and a little more detail on exactly what to do
More specific instructions or a better discussion of what is required.
It helped a lot but I would like for the rubric to be more detailed rather than students writing what we need to have.
I didn't completely the alternative assessment so it was not very valuable
i took the test so it did not help
Have a more defined test rubric, have a list what may be in the test.

Maybe on the review for the unit test if you choose to take it, there is a column for each section that outlines exactly what concepts you need to know that is a little more clear/concrete than just listing the learning targets, which can sometimes be confusing

It helped me to know exactly what to do and how to do it so I wasn't confused and asking a ton of questions
It helped me understand what needed to be done on my alternative assignment to get full credit and show I fully understand the concepts.
It helped me to figure out what I needed to know for this unit and it helped me to study a lot better.
The rubric helped me because it explained all the different areas that were covered, and showed what had to be done to get each score on that section of the assessment.
It helped because it was kind of step by step and made sure you included everything from level 1-4
I think it helped because I gave a list of the things that we needed straight forwardly, and that helped me to understand the units better as a whole.
The rubric was a helpful way to check in with myself regarding my understanding of each topic.
It helped me know what i needed to know and what was expected of my project
It helped because it outlined what we learned in the unit step by step and by doing that and separating each unit I feel like I really understood each learning objective more.

Takeaways: The power of the rubric was clear for many of the students, especially those who completed the alternative assessment. If the goal was to make the objectives more clear.  I’d say it was accomplished for most students.  The rubric was designed to be applied to understandings required for the test and alternative assessment.  To see that some of those who took the test found no use for it shows a clear deficiency in the design and/or communication.  I am a little less concerned of the feedback that asked for more detail.  Once the rubric gets too detailed, it becomes way to prescribed.  At that point, I will have taken away choice in how students showcase understanding.

Action Steps: I like the idea a student put forward of walking through the rubric as it relates to the test and tying it to specific concepts and skills as a part of the review. I don’t want to go down a path in which the rubrics look like separate documents. I do think offering more guided walkthroughs of the rubrics with those students who could use it is a first step to help those who needed more clarification. I could almost see something like this being a part of our practice routines in the class.  As stated by one student, making it a small group discussion of what each element could look like may be more powerful than me explaining what it should look like.


Feedback on Choice in Assessment

Screen Shot 2016-09-19 at 2.45.48 PM.png
I thought a few of the questions were worded a bit difficult for some to understand, but other than that it wasn't bad.
I think it is helpful but maybe there could be some more creative stuff in order to make it more hands on and interesting.
More examples available of what we can do for an alternative to the test.

I don't like taking tests that much and this project helped me because I felt confident, could take my time, and could look over notes.
Having options was helpful for me because I felt like after doing the alternative assessment, I understood the material from Unit 1 better than before I started the alternative assessment.
I’m not good at projects/presentations and would have done bad on that so having an option to do a test helped a lot
It helped so that I could demonstrate my knowledge without having to take a test because I struggle with test taking sometimes.
I had a hard time deciding which one to do for Unit 1, but I decided to take the alternative assessment and it actually was really good because I couldn't complete the assessment until I understood the concepts.
I like having both options because I am a person who does better when they have to study for a test and demonstrate their abilities that way, where as I know other people don't like taking tests.
i didn't have to stress over one option that i didn't like
It was just nice not being pressured to do something we didn't want to
I really appreciate that I have options as to how I show what I know. The rubric was set up in a clear and concise way, and I checked off each category as I completed my assessment. Doing the assessment deepened my understanding of this unit immensely, since it allowed me to sort of "be the teacher" and take on the role of explaining things in my own words.

Takeaways: It was powerful to see students communicate the different ways that choice was valuable to them. I like how it varied from understanding strengths as a learner, equity for fellow classmates, and simply having some sense of freedom. But, some students stated that they would like even more freedom in options for alternative assessments.  

Action Steps: When it came time to set-up the assessment in this unit, I presented options for the alternative assessment.  I think I need to be more explicit in the intention of the alternative assessment and let students propose ideas to me earlier in the unit.  Perhaps, the can even start fleshing out ideas before given dedicated work time.


What Did and Didn’t Help Learning

The options in the chart below were cut out but they were
  • Pear Deck Notes
  • Problem Sets on Canvas
  • Pear Deck Quizzes
  • Demonstrations
  • Activities
  • Other
Screen Shot 2016-09-19 at 2.46.00 PM.png

What Didn’t Help Learning

Expanding on the lessons. After each lesson when I took the quizzes, I felt like I didn't know the answers and had to look back on notes or just guess. I think it would be beneficial to have more demonstrations that relate entirely to the lesson and to receive worksheets. I need more structure for when I am learning.
The canvas quizzes immediately after learning the information were sometimes confusing and made me think I didn't know what I was doing
The problem sets on Canvas were kind of confusing because I thought I understood everything from the notes but I got a lot of problems wrong in canvas.
One thing that did not help me learn was the problem sets on Canvas. I really just filled them out to get them done as opposed to learning the material.
I think if we did a few worksheets in class with some problems on it that we could do separately, then go over together as a class would be a good idea. Sometimes I personally find that more helpful than doing an online quiz.

I thought the demonstrations were super cool, but they didn't help me learn a lot.

Not going over the answer key and going through some problems before the test

Takeaways: A strong majority of students think Pear Deck is great for notes and formative assessment.  That makes me feel great about the time we spend with it as a part of large group instruction. On the other end of the spectrum, there seems to be a strong disconnect between the online practice problems and the content delivered in large group.  It is disconcerting that a student would understand the content as delivered and worked with in the interactive lecture but then have major issues with the practice problems. These questions come from a questions bank and that may be leading to some confusion.

Action Steps: I need to review the practice of requiring students to complete these problems sets. I would like to explore other forms of practice.  Perhaps, incorporating a bit of choice into the process. I think this could include Canvas Problem sets, worksheets of practice problems, guided practice on problems with me, guided walk throughs of the outcome rubric with sample problems. I think a trend is emerging. There will not be a single mode that will work for all students.  But the key is recognizing the strongest modes & leverage them while not forcing those that don’t work because they may be more efficient for the instructor.  


Could we Try This?

I think maybe a few more notes, but not much
more activities
More problems
More pear deck
I enjoyed pear deck the most so maybe if we had more slides for review.
One thing that could be added to help my learning for the next unit is more demonstrations. It is more helpful to me to see how things work rather than trying to picture it.
I like doing worksheets after learning a concept to help me understand the concept better and if I make any mistakes, that can help me learn from them.
Kahoots would be cool

Takeaways: The only clear trend here is more. Students want more of whatever helps them learn.

Action Steps: I could drive myself crazy creating tons of options and putting them all out there for students to access when they need it. But, I need to make my classroom a place where students can advocate for what they need.  I can provide them with what they need or at least point them in the right direction.  Rather than doing it all for them, it is my hope that they can come to me and ask for what they need.


The Biggest Takeaway

Looking at the feedback I got today, I was so happy to see how open the students were with me. Remember, we have only been in class together for 2 weeks. It speaks volumes to the community we are creating. I’m looking forward to how our conversations will grow over the next 16 weeks we have together.


Summative Assessment Data

I am still in the process of grading the alternative assessments.  But, I have half of the assessments corrected so far.  Once all are graded, I think I can do a deeper dive into these scores.  Also maybe look to see if there is any variance in assessment option and scoring.



Popular posts from this blog

Waves of Innovation in Elmbrook Part 1

As a part of a graduate project, I am looking at innovations in education within my school district, Elmbrook Schools. I am specifically focusing on those looking to provide learners with more ownership over their own learning (a.k.a. personalizing learning). I've completed 4 interviews so far.  I had no intention of sharing them via this blog.  But, I think the stories and insights of these educators really are important for all.  They were vulnerable in a way that shows their passion for what they are undertaking.  They want the best for all learners not simply students, but educators who may hear their words.  So, please take the time to listen to their stories.  


In this video, Jeff Ortman a teacher in his 22nd year, discusses implementing strategies to give students ownership of their learning in his high school English classroom.  He discusses why he wanted to change his learning environment, his first steps to bring change, how choice and feedback are key to his classroom, a…

Can I Believe These Numbers?

Our union put out the results of a recent district survey.  The number of those who responded to the survey was low in comparison to the total number of certified staff. But the number and comments related to personalized learning struck me as troubling.


Based on this data, over half of the district staff polled are not onboard with the district's vision for personalized learning.  I would argue that not knowing the district vision for personalized learning is synonymous with not understanding what personalized learning is. The mission of the Elmbrook School Districtto inspire every student to think, to learn and to succeed.  By personalizing learning, we hope to achieve that mission.
I begin to question have we put the phrase before the meaning?  Have we thrown out this word without intention?  Have we made it to much of another thing to do rather than a method to achieve our shared vision.
These numbers shake me to the core.  After the recent presidential election, I realized I was…

How to Personalize Learning Part 3: Knowing How a Classroom Learns

Now, it may seem contradictory to state that teachers should create a classroom learner toolkit.  All individuals in our class have their own profile. We can’t simply design on blanket profile for the class.  That is very true.  That’s why Bray and McClaskey take a different approach to what a classroom learning toolkit looks like.  It is a 3-step process Class Learning Snapshot Preferences and Needs Class Learning Toolkit

Class Learning Snapshot In this model of designing tools for a whole classroom, the authors first recommend the teacher identify 4 learners who are diverse.  The Class Learning Snapshot records the specific strengths, talents, interests, and challenges of those four learners. If a teacher could meet the needs of these diverse learners through UDL, the needs of the other students in the class would probably be met.

Student Strengths, Talents, and Interests Challenges 1 It's easier for me to understand content when I am taught by a teacher and then am able to get informati…