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Three Easy Ways to Provide On-the-Spot Feedback

It is often difficult to provide immediate, meaningful feedback to students. The three strategies we offer below are tools we have successfully used to give students purposeful, meaningful feedback that students can immediately act on.


One Big Thing

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What:  In this strategy, the teacher uses a post-it note or note card to communicate one thing a student can do to improve his or her work.  The teacher writes one thing - and only one thing - that the student needs to do to improve.

Why:  It is easy for students to become overwhelmed with multiple demands, especially if the student has several issues in need of correction or revision.  Focusing on one area of focus helps the student to work to master one component and allows a starting point for action. This is useful for students who need to master basic components of the curriculum as well as for students who can make additional tweaks to improve from proficiency to mastery.

How:  This can be used as feedback during a lesson (see also Red Pen, Green Pen below) or as feedback on a graded assignment that is returned.  This provides the student with a reason to review their graded work, respond to feedback, and improve their score.


Digital Sharing

What:  The teacher can take advantage of digital sharing via Google Docs for schools that are equipped with Google Classroom and offer feedback and guidance as students are working.

Why:  This is useful for individual and/or group work.  This allows the teacher to spend more time with students who may need extra help without the stigma or awkwardness associated with repeated or prolonged teacher intervention.

How:  Students share the document they are working on with the teacher.  This allows the teacher to view real-time progress and allows for timely comments, intervention, or support for students as they work. As with Red Pen, Green Pen below, this allows for ongoing, sustained interaction as needed.


Red Pen, Green Pen

What:  In this strategy the teacher provides on-the-spot feedback and creates an ongoing dialogue, one comment at a time.  As students are taking notes, working out examples, etc. the teacher comments or raises a question on the student’s work using a red pen.  This signals to the student that there is something that needs to be clarified, edited, or expanded upon. The student then responds to the teacher in green pen. The teacher uses the green response as a cue that his/her comment has been addressed.  This continues back and forth with the teacher and student until the teacher is satisfied that the student has achieved the teacher’s objective.

Why:  This offers the opportunity to provide ongoing feedback and assistance to students.  Because the entire exchange takes place in writing, not only is there a record the student can refer back to, but the student has time to reflect, plan, and strategize.  This also allows the teacher time to interact with all students in class, rather than only interacting with one or two students.

How:  This is particularly good for feedback during independent practice in class, where students are working on mastering a new concept, idea, or skill.  This helps students build problem solving skills to work through issues on their own.

Looking for more strategies and tools you can use to increase student engagement?

Offering Effective Feedback in the Moment