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Remote learning: 5 ways schools are giving pupils feedback now
Schools are finding creative ways to provide their pupils with feedback while they’re learning remotely. See if one of these approaches would work for you.
- It's positive in so many ways, and easier to do than you might think
- Email: teachers reply to emails from pupils about what they’re most proud of
- On Twitter: teachers comment on photos of children's work
- Video: teachers showcase pupils' work in a daily video message
- Audio: teachers record 'voice notes' on work in the Showbie app
- Automated: teachers set up online quizzes to give auto-feedback on incorrect answers
Currently, the DfE expects all pupils to return to school in September. However, if you stay on top of remote learning you'll be well-prepared to help pupils learn at home if they need to self-isolate, and to continue education for all pupils in the event of localised school closures.
There's also still a possibility that blended learning will need to be in the mix for September (e.g. with teachers in fixed 'bubbles' delivering some lessons to pupils in other bubbles).
It's positive in so many ways, and easier to do than you might think
Schools that have found ways to give feedback are doing it to:
- Keep pupils motivated and enthusiastic about their learning
- Give pupils and parents a sense that work is still being looked at, so they keep sharing it
- "Keep the channels of communication open, so our families still feel part of the school community" (Dave Sammels, headteacher at Mayflower Community Academy)
- "Maintain normality and provide the best possible education we can" (Graham Macaulay, Director of Computing and Technology at LEO Academy Trust)
We share a variety of approaches below - many of which can continue to be used as part of a blended approach.
Email: teachers reply to emails from pupils about what they’re most proud of
At LEO Academy Trust schools in south London, feedback emails focus on celebrating pupils' achievements, thanking parents for supporting home learning and keeping the school community connected.
The trust asks parents to email photos of completed work (set via the schools' distance learning websites), and any comments, to a designated year group email address as and when they wish to.
Teachers monitor these inboxes and respond to the children in their class within 24 hours (during term time), and within working hours. In reality, teachers respond to most emails within 4 hours. Principals also monitor the inboxes, for quality assurance.
These emails aren't in-depth marking, and the schools aren't looking for outstanding work. A feedback email might read:
"Hi Jack and family,
Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful story with us. I really like how you added a cliffhanger at the end and how you used some amazing expanded noun phrases to add some lovely, detailed description. I'm going to share your work with the principal as she will be so excited to see this. I'm looking forward to seeing more of your brilliant work soon!"
On Twitter: teachers comment on photos of children's work
Mayflower Community Academy in Plymouth is using Twitter to keep an open dialogue between staff and families: a kind of "virtual school gates".
Each teacher has a professional Twitter account, so parents can "follow" their child's teacher for live updates, reminders of daily learning activities and to receive feedback to share with their child.
Parents upload photos of their child's home learning on Twitter, with comments, and teachers or the headteacher respond as soon as they can. This feedback can be learning-focused or more general praise.
For example, in the Twitter thread here, a parent comments on a teacher's Tweet:
- Teacher: "Have a go at today’s morning challenge and let us know how you get on!"
- Parent: shares a photo of her child's writing
- Headteacher (straight away): "Super writing. Love the clearly defined finger spaces and the cursive handwriting. Great work"
- Class teacher (a little later): "Such a persevering penguin, it is lovely to see"
Teachers are only expected to do as much of this as they feel comfortable with, and only within their working hours.
Video: teachers showcase pupils' work in a daily video message
At Charles Dickens Primary School in Southwark, pupils and parents email photos of their work directly to teachers - once a day if possible - and get feedback in 2 ways:
1. Teachers post written whole-class motivational feedback on the previous day's work on their year group page of the 'virtual school' website every day. For example: "Wow! We were very impressed with all the work that was sent in yesterday. Well done everyone! It’s great to see and hear from you all and we are really proud of each and everyone of you!" They also award virtual 'Star of the Week' certificates to pupils for sending in their completed work and to incentivise others to do the same
2. Teachers also use a daily video message to give individual feedback and show examples of good home learning. In the video below, a teacher displays photos of pupils' work on a screen behind him and gives children "shout-outs" to praise their work. This also helps to maintain a sense of class community, reminding the children of their classmates' names and faces
(You don't need a big screen at home to do this though: posting photos of the work online would work just as well alongside your video.)
Find out more about how to make YouTube videos for effective teaching.
Audio: teachers record 'voice notes' on work in the Showbie app
The Olive Tree Primary School in Bolton gives audio feedback because it has a high number of families with English as an additional language and wanted a method that didn't involve reading emails or long comments.
Teachers use the cloud-based app Showbie to view and comment on pupils' work (the school uses Showbie Pro, but a free 'basic edition' of the app is also available, which includes audio feedback). Pupils upload photos of what they've done, and teachers add 'voice notes' so pupils can hear their teacher's voice giving them specific, personalised feedback – just like they would in class.
Pupils can hear their teacher's voice giving them specific, personalised feedback – just like they would in class
Teachers offer praise, correct mistakes or ask a question to check understanding, e.g. "Can you tell me the place value of the number circled in green?" Pupils can create their own voice notes to answer a question, ask a question or just say "Hi" to their teacher. Watch a short clip of how it works here.
The school expects teachers to mark their pupils' work with audio feedback within the week. Voice notes are time-stamped and the senior leadership team can see everything too.
(To facilitate this, The Olive Tree Primary School has also provided all pupils with iPads to take home. Get advice on how to do this here.)
Automated: teachers set up online quizzes to give auto-feedback on incorrect answers
Mark Enser, head of geography at Heathfield Community College, uses Google Forms to create self-marking quizzes on topics where there are correct/incorrect answers and common misconceptions. You set up the quiz to give feedback when a pupil selects an incorrect answer, either to explain the right answer or to prompt the pupil to work out the right answer.
This works best when you're confident in pupils' reading ability and they can work independently, so it's probably more suited to secondary schools.
For example, if the question is "Which of these fractions is equivalent to 3/5?" you can set the quiz to give the same feedback to all pupils who don't select or type the correct answer - e.g. "To find equivalent fractions, multiply or divide both the numerator and denominator by the same number."
Once a teacher has devised their questions, it should only take them about 5 minutes to set up a quiz using Google Forms:
- Create a Google account or sign in to your current one
- Go to Google Forms
- Select a blank form
- Click the 'Settings' icon (the cog) in the top-right corner of the screen
- Click on the heading 'Quizzes', slide the bar to select 'Make this a quiz' and click 'Save'
- Type in your first question. Choose 'Multiple choice' and include some incorrect answers, or 'Short answer' for pupils to type in their own answer
- Click 'Answer key' at the bottom of the box, and type in the feedback you want to appear for 'Incorrect answers' and 'Correct answers'. (For correct answers, this might just be 'Well done, that's correct')
- Move the slider bar in the bottom right or the box to set the question to 'Required'
- Click the '+' icon to create new questions, and repeat steps 6, 7 and 8 for each question
- When you're happy with your quiz, send it to pupils or parents by clicking 'Send' in the right-hand corner of the screen. (Preview it first by clicking on the 'eye' icon in the right-hand corner)
- Enter the email addresses you want to send the quiz to and click 'Send'
- You'll get an email with your pupils' results when they complete the quiz
(You can use any other platform you wish to create an online quiz like this.)
Many thanks to the following for letting us share their approaches:
- Cassie Buchanan, headteacher at Charles Dickens Primary School
- Dave Sammels, headteacher at Mayflower Community Academy
- Graham Macaulay, Director of Computing and Technology for Learning at LEO Academy Trust
- Mark Enser, head of geography and research lead at Heathfield Community College
- Zainab Patel, deputy principal at The Olive Tree Primary School
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