Lesson Study Cycle 1
Daniel (middle school SPED), Grace (Humanities 7), Andrew (Art K-8), Krista (Writing 5), Karinne (Humanities 7)
Observed Problem of Practice
Feedback given by students to their peers is not specific or actionable.
We will establish safe/brave relationships and provide scaffolds to create a culture of feedback so that students communicate specifically to help their peers improve their creative work.
Part 1: Planning
Collection of Data from:
Research on giving and receiving peer feedback
Experimenting with strategies in the classroom
Empathy Interviews with Focus Students
Early in our research on peer feedback, we discovered the layers of complex skills involved in giving feedback (from listening skill to annotation to grit, etc.). This was incredibly enlightening and allowed us to begin teaching mini-lessons around other skill sets so we could build to work on our research theme.
In my classroom, I began teaching listening skills to help students focus their responses and eventually their feedback. This has impacted my entire teaching practice positively, as I have extended it into all parts of our classroom routines (for example, when reading articles, students first fill in a box on their notes that says "I am looking for"). In addition, I have been more intentional about using academic/standards language in our rubrics as well as in feedback checklists.
As we researched and experimented with strategies in our own classrooms, our lesson study group collected a portfolio of strategies that seemed promising. The strategies we decided to use in our final lesson study were expert groups, "I'm looking for" checklists, in-text feedback (annotations), and separate written feedback (evidence-based and on a graphic organizer or sticky notes).
One big idea we gathered from our research is that evidence-based verbal feedback is effective in improving student writing. Students were given the chance to give verbal feedback following the written feedback section. We asked students to keep feedback evidence-based, and there were several mini-lessons leading up to the focus lesson to teach students how to do this.
Another key idea from our research was that helping students reduce anxiety in the feedback process can help improve the quality of feedback they give to their peers. We attempted to help reduce student anxiety in our lesson study by scaffolding instruction and modeling before the actual focus lesson, by providing multiple ways for students to give and receive feedback (checklist, written feedback, and verbal feedback), and by giving them "expert groups" so as to help them focus their feedback, give them community to work with, and empower them in what they know.
Personal Research & Reflection
Focus Students: Assets & Needs
Focus Student 1
Focus Student (FS) 1 is an energetic, charismatic and excitable personality in the classroom; his presence was made known to our research study observers when he entered the room before his peers and immediately dive-bombed a large stuffed bear in the reading corner of the classroom. FS1 is an avid cook. He is organized at home and loves to clean. He hopes to be a chef. FS1 has an IEP and is diagnosed with dyslexia, which manifests as a diversion towards writing, task completion, and difficulty with other assigned tasks.
Focus Student 2
FS2 is a quiet, thoughtful student. She is the only daughter, and a middle child between and older and younger brother. Her parents are recently divorced. Her love of animals is apparent in the classroom as she often elects to read stories about dogs. Outside of school, she participates in cheer. She is the subject of an ongoing SST, but does not have an IEP.
Focus Student 3
Part 3: Reflection
Reflecting on the Lesson
Our team agreed that this feedback routine has the potential to be successful if used consistently from the start of the year and moving forward. We still saw many generalized positive comments from focus students (for example, "Nothing, you did good!" etc.), which we had hoped to move away from with this lesson. Specific learnings from the lesson included that:
The combination of of written and verbal feedback was truly beneficial to students' engagement in the feedback process (as we had also seen in our research).
Annotation is another skill that needs to be taught prior to feedback sessions.
Focus Students' work and patterns of engagement revealed that SEL has a very clear and strong impact on their ability to engage in the feedback process.
Students need individual checklists for feedback. In our lessons, "experts" made a community checklist of things to look for. However, they didn't seem to reference these poster-sized community checklists when giving feedback as much as they may have if it were an individual checklist that they kept with them.
If we were to do this as a classroom routine, I would keep expert groups and writing workshop groups the same for a full quarter, then switch all groups for the next quarter. This gives all students a chance to be an expert in each area. It also allows students to hear lots of voices and see lots of types of writing. Finally, consistent grouping gives students time to familiarize themselves with each others' writing and watch each other grow as writers. Consistent groups are also important for building community, something necessary for writing workshops to be successful.
Reflecting on the Process
This Lesson Study Cycle taught me about the complexity of peer feedback. It was enlightening to realize that so many researchers ended their studies with more questions than answers, and it gave me a small glance into how much we don't know about the use of peer feedback in education.
More practically, the practice of having students identify what they are listening or looking for before engaging with any text has become a standard and incredibly beneficial routine in my classroom. I am also more aware of the complex skills involved in feedback (text annotation, listening skills, vulnerability, accurate self-reflection, etc.). These have taken a priority in my classroom as skills to teach before diving into feedback routines.
Ultimately, my biggest takeaway was to give students the benefit of the doubt. I realized the majority of the time, students do the task the way that they can. If they aren't doing it the way I want, expect, or instruct, it becomes my responsibility to figure out why not. What skill have I not taught that I'm asking them to use? In what way does the thing they are doing meet or appear to meet the expectations? When I do this, my teaching becomes more precise in ways that allow my students to do more precise work.