Laura Gibbs

4-Week Feedback Bootcamp

Blog Post created by Laura Gibbs on Aug 15, 2018

So, as I've explained in earlier posts, this is the YEAR OF FEEDBACK in my classes, where I want to try to do a better job with feedback myself, and also help the students to develop and practice feedback skills (something new for many of them). You can see my earlier posts here: 

I'm pinging David Lyons for this, since I know he is a feedback guru for Instructure too.


My Fall semester has started now (it's Week Zero, a chance for students to begin if they want a head start), and some students are already done with Week 1, ready to move on to Week 2... which is when the 4-Week Feedback Bootcamp begins. I am really excited to see what they will think about that!


In this blog post, I'll explain how it works for the four weeks of the "bootcamp" and I've linked to the assignment pages for each week (those are pages at my class wiki, although the Feedback Gallery is something I deployed in Canvas, and my Diigo Library of feedback resources is also in Canvas).



1. Week 2: Feedback for Learning (click for details)
This assignment builds on the growth mindset materials from Week 1, emphasizing the idea of using feedback to learn from mistakes. Neil Gaiman is my spokesman:


Neil Gaiman quote


This is great in theory, of course, but nobody likes finding out they have made a mistake (especially after the way mistakes are usually punished in school with bad grades).


So, the idea with this assignment is for students to realize that feedback is really important, while it is also natural to feel uncomfortable with feedback, especially feedback that points out mistakes or problems to work on. The students write blog posts with their thoughts, and these posts are a really useful way for me to get to know the students, while also preparing them for the important role that feedback will play in the class overall. It's also useful for me to see which articles they choose to read, and what they say about those articles. I'll try to make some good "feedback cats" based on the articles that the students really connect with and find valuable.


mother cat and kitten: I need feedback to help me grow



2. Week 3: How to Give Feedback (click for details)
For this assignment, students continue to explore feedback resources and articles, sharing their thoughts about those articles in a blog post. This time, the focus is on giving feedback, and different strategies for giving feedback (often the only strategy that students know is the "sandwich" approach, which is actually a not-great strategy to use compared to others). I also introduce the students here to the Feedback Gallery that the students from last semester created; you can see that here in my Canvas Feedback course:
Canvas Growth Mindset: Feedback Gallery

I am really hoping that this Feedback gallery (by students for students!) will help students this semester who learn best from seeing concrete examples. I really like the fact that I can keep adding more/better examples to this Gallery every semester, since I'll ask the students to help me with that later this semester, just as I asked them to help me with that in the Spring.


screenshot of feedback gallery


3. Week 4: The WWW Feedback Strategy (click for details)

I've been recommending this WWW strategy to students for a few years now (it's just something I made up on my own), and it seems to work pretty well. The "wow" factor seems especially useful in getting them to zoom in on something specific as opposed to generic praise. Unlike the previous two weeks, this week is a split between learning about feedback and actually practicing. So, for this week, the students read about WWW, and then they leave feedback comments on stories in other students' blogs. This is a way for them to get to see the difference between these feedback comments (longer, more detailed) as opposed to the more social comments they leave on the blogs as part of the blog commenting assignment each week.


graphic of the word WOW


4. Week 5: TAG Feedback... and Let's Pretend! (click for details)


TAG graphic by (Mari Venturino)


This is the week I am most excited about. I present the TAG feedback style (which is very similar to the WWW style; they're both good!), and then I present this amazing new idea for feedback that one of the students suggested last semester: LET'S PRETEND. The idea is that instead of writing the feedback as the reader, you write the feedback in the voice of one of the characters in the story. Doesn't that sound cool? I am really excited to try that style of feedback myself. My hope is that, just as students feel more free to write in the voice of a fictional character when they compose their stories, they will also feel more free to write detailed feedback in the voice of a character in the story.


Yes, it's weird, but if it works, I am going to be really happy to have this new strategy to recommend to students, especially students who struggle with writing feedback. And hey, if it doesn't work, then that will be my failed feedback experiment for the semester. I tell the students that I want them to take risks in order to try new things and learn new things, and the same goes for me too: I will be asking them to let me know if this new way of doing feedback is fun/useful or not. I am soooooo curious how "let's pretend" will turn out! Hopefully in Week 5 I will have my first indications of that, assuming at least some of the students will want to practice the "let's pretend" feedback style. And since I enrolled myself in one of my classes as a student, I'll be trying it out in Week 5 for sure.


Then, after these four weeks of learning about feedback and practicing in Weeks 2-3-4-5, the students are ready to start giving each other feedback on their projects in Week 6, when the Storybook and Portfolio website are ready to go; most students put their sites up in Week 4, but some might not do that until Week 5, but by Week 6, almost everybody has their project site in place, ready for visitors.


So, that's what I have in place for the first semester of the YEAR OF FEEDBACK. I have some other ideas for after the "Bootcamp" is over in Week 5, but I'll save those for a separate post. :-)