Saturday 9 November 2013

Specific Feedback

After reading some books and watching a few short videos about Remembrance Day, students noticed that poppies, Peace Doves, crosses and soldiers were the most prominent symbols associated with this important day.

At home, I made a batch of salt dough and sculpted a quick salt-dough Peace Dove. My 23 year-old daughter said "It looks like a baby seal with bad wings". It is true.

In our grade 2 class, we have been giving and using specific feedback across all areas of the curriculum. This dove/seal provided another opportunity 1) for me to model an openness to feedback 2) for students to see that giving and accepting specific feedback helps everyone improve, and 3) for students to think about details and success criteria before beginning a task.

When I showed them the seal/dove, many were delighted and gave me positive feedback. When I told them what my daughter had said, showed them a picture of a real dove as well as several excellent examples of dove sculptures on Google images, and asked them to be critical and to help me improve my next dove. They gave me very this feedback:

Students were then given their own salt dough and began sculpting. Some students were frustrated because they weren't able to get the results that they could see in their minds. Many students created their dove and then kneaded the dough back into a ball to start over - again and again. Some students used pencils and other tools at their desks to create details in the dough.

When students finished their doves and wanted to know what I thought, I reminded them that I wasn't the expert - that the students were the ones who gave me great pointers, so they should ask at least 2 of their peers to give them feedback.

Here are just a few of the doves that are waiting to be dried and then painted.


Throughout the process we have been making mistakes, solving problems together, communicating effectively, getting frustrated and then demonstrating resilience. On Thursday, when it was time to paint, we encountered even more frustrations - a few of the doves were damaged and a few people were unhappy with their work. Most students painted their doves but not everyone was happy with the results.

Despite the icky feeling of dried salt dough on our hands, the mess we have to clean, and the many frustrations we have encountered - students asked if we could start again from the beginning on Monday.

I'm not encouraging perfectionism - I'm encouraging students to care about their work, to not give up when things go wrong, to accept & give help ...... many of the 6 C's associated with 21st Century skills.

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