The topic of formative assessment is something that is often discussed in education today. Personally, I have found myself involved in many conversations with colleagues during professional development sessions, at conferences, and even in Twitter chats. The focus is typically on how to assess student learning efficiently and effectively. A big part of these discussions is focused on finding the right “tool” to use for assessing students, which does not necessarily imply that the tool has to be technologically based. An even more important focus in these discussions is determining how to use the data that the formative assessment gives us to provide authentic, timely and meaningful feedback to the students which will positively impact their learning, personal goal setting, and growth.
I am often asked to recommend a new digital tool to try in the classroom. Most of the time, the request is for a platform that will help engage students more in their learning, is accessible to all students, and is multifunctional. Over the last few years, I have found that Kidblog offers a variety of opportunities for learning activities and promotes student engagement through the choices available on the platform, especially when it comes to creativity and ease of use in the classroom. I often recommend others try blogging and start with Kidblog because it offers so much more than just a new and different way for students to respond to a prompt or to share a reflection for example. The concept of blogging is new to many, especially when it comes to the variety of ways that blogging can be used both personally and professionally. Blogging in the classroom helps teachers learn about their students and build supportive relationships, and it helps students develop their online presence and build vital technology skills as they begin interacting in a virtual learning space and collaborating with peers. Due to the feedback that can be given and interacted with through the blogging platform, publishing online fosters enhanced student-to-student and student-to-teacher communication.
Feedback: How Kidblog promotes authentic, timely and meaningful feedback
By creating classes in Kidblog, we can create a space where students can connect with the content and with one another which can help to promote better collaboration and even SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) skills. Sometimes it can feel uncomfortable to offer feedback to others, especially when the concept of feedback can be perceived as a negative, but the reality is quite the opposite. Feedback is a way that we can help others to celebrate successes, learn about one another, continue working toward new goals and provide support along the way.
As teachers, we need to model what it means to give purposeful feedback and show how to express ourselves in a way that is meant to be helpful and supportive. We then teach students about the right ways to offer feedback and also help to instill the thoughts in them that feedback is not a negative. I’ve noticed that students and teachers having the ability to respond directly to each student’s post helps students to become more comfortable when talking to one another in the classroom, whereas before they may have been a bit shy about doing so. Since using Kidblog in the classroom is so easy, providing this important feedback can be done instantly.
A quick way to teach students how to provide feedback is to create a post for students to respond to in their own posts. Once students have published their own posts, you as the teacher provide some feedback in the comments for each student’s post.
Model the type of feedback you would like students to provide. Give an example of how to encourage one another, offer some suggestions for the writing itself, and provide any other direction that would be appropriate for your class and grade level. Next ask each student to read the blog posts of a few of their classmates, review the feedback that you provided, and then make a comment of their own. While reviewing these comments, you will learn more about the students and be able to take what you’ve learned to engage more conversations with the class. Using these comments as a starting point for in-class discussions allows teachers to demonstrate how authentic, purposeful, and timely feedback is valuable and promotes even more camaraderie and collaboration among peers. I encourage everyone to help students understand the importance of feedback and its positive impact on their learning and growth.