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Feedback to students

Hemal Panchal, grade 5 homeroom teacher, Oberoi International School, India

This article is about how to provide students constructive feedback that gives the opportunity to take ownership and emerge as lifelong learners. It also highlights the practice of constructive feedback enabling parents to be more engaged with their child’s learning.

“The most powerful single moderator that enhances achievement is feedback.”
~ John Hattie

What will you become today? Have you ever tried asking this question to your students? Students taking ownership is very important in a constructivist classroom environment. All our students need feedback and encouragement in everything that they do. Giving positive feedback is reactive, but giving encouragement is proactive! Keeping in mind the approaches to teaching and approaches to learning, giving constructive feedback to students for me has been at the apex. Feedback can be very powerful if done well. Quality feedback gives information they need so that they can understand where they are in their learning and what to do next – the cognitive factor. Quality feedback should be a part of a classroom assessment environment in which students see constructive criticism as a positive experience and understand that learning cannot occur without practice.

Feedback to students has been an on-going practice within my classroom and in my school, at times given verbally and at times written. For example, during an inquiry under the transdisciplinary theme Sharing the planet, our central idea states: How we manage our waste impacts the environment in a variety of ways. As a part of our literacy integration, students were writing persuasive letters to the community. One of my students approached with an idea of persuading his society manager and the members of his society to segregate dry and wet waste. Using a reflective questioning strategy, I offered feedback to help him write his first draft:

  • “What skills do you want to develop during this piece?”
  • ”How will you do that?”
  • “What would be a realistic timescale in which this can be achieved?”

My role as a facilitator is to deliver feedback that will help him enhance his message to the audience:

  • “What choices did you make at the time?”
  • “How appropriate or inappropriate do you feel these decisions were?”
  • “What implications does this incident or situation have for your future practice of waste segregation?”

My student not only wrote a letter, but also created a flow chart as a visual aid, supporting his facts and opinions. This was the first time a waste management unit was added to our school programme of inquiry and it was altogether a great experience for the school community as our action component emerged.

“Ms Hemal, how about us giving feedback to our peers, too?” In year 5, we have students demonstrating their understanding through various mediums, such as presentations, role-plays, models, iMovie and charts. Students take ownership to provide constructive feedback to their peers.

  • “Sarah, your presentation was quite informative. You have shared your experiences too, which shows that you have made connections with real life situations. Your voice went a bit low in the middle but you made sure you were audible later on.”
  • “I like the way you move the puppet. It really looks like people’s emotions”, by an English as additional language student.

Peer feedback if given in a positive way boosts student morale and gives them pride and motivation to be better next time. By giving this opportunity, I make sure each and every child of my class gets to voice their opinions, thoughts and feelings.

The strategies/ways I use formal and informal feedback in my classroom include:

  • Peer feedback: written and/or verbal. Feedback can be attached to students’ work as evidence and can serve as an effective way to reflect on their work.
  • Using reflective questions as a constructive way of delivering feedback.
  • Writing individual messages on post-its and stick it on student tables before they come for the class.
  • Having descriptors stuck on the white board for self-feedback.
  • Using Seesaw learning journals that records student learning as a part of their e-portfolios and learning journey. Giving written, video and voice feedback regularly helps students to stay on task.
  • Giving feedback as part of the all assessment.
  • Providing anecdotes below rubrics, exemplars, checklists, continuums, etc.
  • Using the attributes of the learner profile and skills from the approaches to learning as the first lingo for helping students ,make stronger connections.
  • Using sentence starters for students, teachers and parents to give constructive feedback.
  • Using audio-visuals to provide feedback.
  • Using Exit tickets as a medium of reflection of learning.
  • Maintaining a feedback wall which will let the peers and teacher write when they observe something worth feedback.
  • Maintaining a display on “What do you mean by constructive feedback?”
  • For personalized learning, encouraging goal setting and reflection for students’ learning. Providing opportunities for on going self-evaluation and reflection.
  • Learning and responding to peers through Student blogs.
  • Reading: How to give effective feedback to your students by Susan M Brookhart

Last but not least, food for thought for us as facilitators:

I see student assessment information as feedback on my teaching. Just because teaching took place it doesn’t mean learning happened.


Hemal Panchal is a grade 5 homeroom teacher and a Grade Level Leader at Oberoi International School. This is her 5th year as both an IB teacher and a 5th grade teacher. She facilitates in house workshops after she has attended several workshops and SAIBSA sessions. Hemal has been an active participant in the authorization and evaluation process while rendering her service in her teaching career. She strongly believes in facilitating good pedagogical practices that keep her students ready to face the real world situations and emerge as lifelong learners. She tweets @HemalPanchal10.