Save time, provide feedback, move the learning forward: the beauty of checklists

Another important aspect of formative assessment is providing effective feedback to students (Marzano, 2003; Jackson, 2009; William, 2012).  In order for the feedback to be valuable, it must be designed to move the learning forward (William, 2012).  One way to achieve this important goal is to provide the feedback via a checklist.  The checklist offers many advantages:  it can be tailored by the teacher to the specific task, it can be aligned with assessment criteria or rubrics, it provides uniformity in terms of feedback and, best of all, it saves the teacher oodles of time.  Here’s how: Rather than correct or point out every error on the student work, the teacher can identify areas for improvement on the checklist while the student reflectively goes over the work again to identify and correct their own specific errors.  Used in conjunction with a well-planned follow up, checklists can be more powerful than old-fashioned feedback via marking the students’ work.  Here is how I used one checklist in my own class:

  • Students completed a practice extended response in preparation for their upcoming exam. We had previously (and thoroughly) been through the rubric for the task so that the learning goals had been clearly articulated (see my earlier post on this).
  • I gave feedback using the checklist.  I didn’t put a single mark on the essays; I just marked the checklist.
  • The following day, students reviewed their checklists and essays and spent 15 minutes correcting their work (acting as their own marker) using the checklist as a guide.
  • I distributed the rubric for the task and conducted a peer feedback activity where partners swapped essays and graded each other and gave feedback (more about this in a later post).
  • Each student was able to identify exactly what they needed to do in order to progress their learning.
  • I was able to use the feedback to inform future learning activities (Jackson, 2009; William, 2012)

This saved me a ton of marking time (trust me!) and enabled me to provide a rich learning experience where students received feedback that moved their learning forward.  It activated students as both agents for their own learning and that of their peers (William, 2012) In addition, it ensured the students were the ones doing the work to prepare for the exam (one of Robyn Jackson’s golden rules! (Jackson, 2009)).

Sources:

Jackson, R. 2009. Never work harder than your students & other principles of great teaching.  Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development: USA.

William, D. 2012. Embedding Formative Assessment with Teacher Learning Communities.  Hawker-Brownlow Professional Development Day Course Notes, Novotell Brisbane, 16 November 2012.

Marzano, R. 2007. The Art and Science of Teaching.  Marzano Research Laboratory: USA.

10SSC Essay Writing Checklist

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