Feedback please – a focus on progress

Building trust and relationship is critically important in growing and completing feedback loops.  I’ve been co-teaching World Language with Julia Kuipers as often as my schedule allows.  If you’ve read the posts, you know she is an excellent teacher.

Earlier this week, I read You’ve Been Doing a Fantastic Job. Just One Thing … from The New York Times. (HT @boadams1) The following passage stuck with me.

 “Those who had just started learning the language wanted the positive feedback, while those who had been taking the French classes longer were more interested in hearing about what they did wrong and how to correct it.

Why is that? One reason is that as people gain expertise, feedback serves a different purpose. When people are just beginning a venture, they may not have much confidence, and they need encouragement. But experts’ commitment ‘is more secure than novices and their focus is on their progress,’ the paper’s authors said.”

I loved receiving the following email from Julia.

Screen Shot 2013-04-12 at 8.20.39 PMJulia writes “I turned the student’s ideas into a self assessment for the 6th Grade ELD langauge project.” Awesome! Building a rubric from student ideas.  Here’s her draft:

I was off campus at a conference.  Here is my quick reply.

Screen Shot 2013-04-12 at 8.25.51 PM

I wondered what might come next.  How would Julia react to my feedback? What changes, if any, would she make?

Screen Shot 2013-04-12 at 8.20.55 PM

I really appreciate that she planned time in her schedule to review the feedback and work on another iteration.

Screen Shot 2013-04-12 at 8.21.09 PM

What a transformation! I bet that we are not finished with this rubric, but I think the next step is to use it with students.  They will have valuable feedback, and we want to continue to refine our assessments with their input.

To show Julia’s engagement in the process (and complete the communication trail), here is the rest of our exchange.

Screen Shot 2013-04-12 at 8.26.27 PM

Screen Shot 2013-04-12 at 8.21.22 PM

Screen Shot 2013-04-12 at 8.27.27 PM

To reiterate:

“… as people gain expertise, feedback serves a different purpose.”

Julia and I invite you to offer your ideas, opinions, and expertise to help us improve so that we may better serve our learners.  Any and all feedback is welcome.


Tugend, Alina. “SHORTCUTS; How to Give Effective Feedback, Both Positive and Negative.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 06 Apr. 2013. Web. 12 Apr. 2013.


  1. I love this rubric as it gets beyond the simple (or sometimes too complex) descriptions of each skill and “grade.” A couple of questions– first, do you need the number? Why have the kids rank themselves, especially if they are reflecting and also describing evidence of their assessment of themselves? If this is to provide a quantitative data point to assign to a qualitative assessment so that a “grade” can be assigned, then I get it. Perhaps this is where philosophically we are ahead of the game on our moving forward in using feedback and behind the game if we still have to connect to a number/letter grade. Second, is this a rubric specifically designed for this assignment or one you plan to use for other assignments? Lastly and bit more picky, I would separate problem solving and creativity as they speak to different concepts. Problem finding???


    • Thank you, Angel, for the feedback and the questions. The numbers are actually quite important to me. They are not for quantitative purposes. They are communicating levels to move through. Our target is level 3, always. The numbers indicate what “floor” you are on and offer one way (or two) to level up. Of course, once you’ve reached the target, we want you to stretch and level up if possible.

      I agree with you about problem-solving, creativity, and problem-finding. However, Julia developed this rubric using the ideas of the 6th graders. At the moment, we want to use it as is. How cool would it be for the children to offer the separation of these concepts once they use it as self-assessment?

      As always, your insights and thinking help me deepen my own learning. I appreciate you!


      • Hey Angel, Thanks again for your comment. I am really glad that you asked me about the numbers. It caused me to help Julia refine the rubric one more time. I’ve suggested that she reverse the order of the scale to indicate the path to leveling up. So, I think it will now look like this:

        4 – I am so proud of my effort. I help others improve and give their best.
        3 – I am honoring our established way of working, and I almost always give my best to this skill.
        2 – I am approaching the expectations of this class, but I know I’m not quite there yet.
        1 – I inconsistently give effort to this skill, and I really need to work on this more. This skill is still challenging for me.


      • I am glad my thoughts generated more for you! Your argument for the numbers makes sense to me, and I really like the idea of the students being involved in the development of the rubric– puts more in their own hands. A suggestion as you reflect with the children afterwards– you may want to ask them (after they assess themselves and perhaps Julia does as well) what did they do that the rubric did not assess. This may move them more to problem finding and asking questions with some teacher facilitation. It also may enlighten us as teachers (and the students, too) as to what skills and concepts emerged through the experience. Too many times, teachers go into a project/lesson with a firm grasp on the skills or concepts they wish to measure. If we don’t remain reflective and open to the process, we may miss out on what skills or concepts organically developed in a meaningful way. Thanks for keeping the dialogue open!


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