Anne and I completed our second discussion over the 9th graders’ papers last week. We once again collected two copies of papers from the students. Then from there we both gave feedback and then met and discussed the conclusions. Anne wrote down a lot more comments than I did, but I am learning a lot from this experience, and specifically from this feedback time.
One thing that I learned was to look at the big picture. I often got caught up in the little details of the papers that I was giving feedback on, the commas, errors in punctuation, and other marks, that I forgot to acknowledge the larger picture. What does this quote have to do with the entire paragraph? What about its significance to the entire paper? I seemed to miss this connection in many of the papers that I gave feedback on. I will need to remember this fact as I continue on the journey of this paper.
Another thing I learned was to mark everything. There were a few papers in particular that after the first page of the same errors time and time again – personal words, contractions, or missing the same element every time – that I honestly gave up. I did not mark anymore. I figured that since I marked it on the first three pages that the student should be able to figure it out. This spurred an interesting conversation with Anne and a realization inside me. Anne told me, and I agree with her, that it is our job as educators to mark everything – to give the student the feedback. Then in the wonderful questioning method of reflection she asked me this: How is a student to know what they did wrong if you do not mark it? That caused an interesting reaction inside of me. I thought initially that it was a waste of time for me to mark everything at the beginning, but instead now that I realize it I need to. They may not realize their mistake, they may not change it, or they may ignore the mistake on a later page because I did not mark it. So, the next round of feedback I will be marking everything and giving the students the feedback that they deserve and that I would want if I was the student.