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How to Give Written Feedback to Your Students

Students will respond if they feel respected and your goals are clear. Give them written feedback that they can use.


  • TIP: Know your audience. Young kids who don't read well yet won't benefit from written criticism, while others may be more engaged if you demonstrate lively lessons with their peers helping out.
  • Step 1: Choose feedback descriptive of the problem, and leave out mentioning any comparisons or grades.
  • Step 2: Lend positive feedback and insight without being overly complimentary or the kids will dismiss your words just as they would if all they heard was criticism. Suggest ways they can improve while prefacing everything with what they have done right.
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  • Step 3: Adjust to the kids' ability to absorb, choosing a mode of feedback that works. Write on written assignments, speak to them individually as you circulate during seat work, or demonstrate when an illustration will get the point across best.
  • Step 4: Give enough commentary and feedback for the students to digest it, but not so much they get confused or give up. Think in terms of usable amounts of familiar information from previous class work that facilitates getting to the next level. Parcel the corrective advice as small objectives to accomplish.
  • Step 5: Correct mistakes and aid their thought process but give them freedom to write or work it out their way, rather than being overtly influenced by what you would have done. Independent thought is key to developing critical thinking.
  • Step 6: Comment on what has been achieved as immediately as possible, returning tests promptly and welcoming responses. Highlight successes with the originally identified criteria for the assignment. Use smiley faces and stars with younger children.
  • TIP: Students rely on the teacher: they will be motivated to pay attention if the instructor's timely response suggests the work deserves immediate attention.
  • Step 7: Communicate a target area for improvement and provide suggestions for what they should do next. Follow up to ensure their accountability.
  • Step 8: Explain to the students what criteria are being used for marking and feedback, complete with the meaning and expectations of highlights and notations.

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