Writing Feedback


write, a photo by erichhh on Flickr.
Earlier today a teacher friend of mine asked me what I thought the single most powerful thing a school/teachers could do to impact writing. After thinking for a moment, my response was teacher feedback. Given a workshop-style classroom is already in place and students are writing daily, much of their learning growth will come from one of two times. One, during their daily (or so) writing conferences with their teacher or two, with written commentary on their writing. When I say writing, I by no means mean final papers, graded, finished, no-opportunity-for-learning writing; but rather the formative writing along the way. I often gave my students quick writes that were a paragraph or two, collected them, and gave them feedback on one or two specific items. This way, even when I had 125 students, I could get them back in a timely manner so the feedback was actually meaningful to them. In this case, the feedback was either a few quick sentences or a checklist of items that I was looking for — either present or not. My intentions were that by the time we got to a final major assessment piece of writing, the students would have mastered all the skills being assessed on that piece because through ongoing feedback, remediation, and conferencing, the skills were taught again and again as needed.
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