Austin's Butterfly

AUSTIN'S BUTTERFLY: A LOOK AT USING AUTHENTIC FEEDBACK IN THIRD GRADE

WHAT IS IT? WHY DID WE DO IT?

We believe that feedback is an essential part of learning experiences for children.  It helps a child understand what they're learning and also gives clear guidance on how to improve.  We're interested in children being able to both give and receive feedback throughout the year and across the curriculum.   We wanted to streamline the feedback process and language so we might see it being more readily used and transferred.

HOW DID WE DO IT? THESE WERE THE BASIC STEPS WE TOOK:

  • Present children with a choice of realistic photographs and had them select a picture to biologically illustrate.

We asked the student to work silently and in a limited time frame in order to zoom in their focus.

We asked the student to work silently and in a limited time frame in order to zoom in their focus.

  • Gather the group together and asked them collectively what they knew about feedback.
  • Group them in random cohorts of four with the instruction to take turns providing feedback on how to make the illustration more realistic.

Children worked in groups to give initial feedback

Children worked in groups to give initial feedback

  • Complete a second draft trying to incorporate one piece of feedback they had received.
Making a second sketch and using group feedback.

Making a second sketch and using group feedback.

  • Watch “Austin’s Butterfly,” and share their observations on how the kids in the video communicated with each other and what they noticed.  Click here to watch the video  Austin's Butterfly
Our students were able to quickly note the three essentials to quality feedback: KIND, SPECIFIC and USEFUL.

Our students were able to quickly note the three essentials to quality feedback: KIND, SPECIFIC and USEFUL.

  • Group with their original cohorts and tried to give advice on the second draft of the drawing keeping the feedback framework in mind.
Children practice using the big three: KIND, SPECIFIC and USEFUL.

Children practice using the big three: KIND, SPECIFIC and USEFUL.

  • Repeated this with a third and fourth draft.
  • We also did intermittent “gallery walks” to make students more aware of our collective process.
Children observing their peer's sketches and adjustments.

Children observing their peer's sketches and adjustments.

  • Finally we asked the children to choose their best illustration and add color.  
Children focused on specific areas to improve.

Children focused on specific areas to improve.

Oftentimes the sketches initially deteriorated as they tried to make adjustments and incorporate feedback.

Oftentimes the sketches initially deteriorated as they tried to make adjustments and incorporate feedback.

It was noticeable that all students were able to have a voice in the feedback conversations and that most students were receptive to the feedback. Our hunch is that they valued the task and genuinely wanted to improve. Additionally, for some quieter students, knowing they had guideline for how to share increased their confidence in speaking.  For the most part, both parties in the conversation were highly invested. When students had an opportunity to improve their work by doing a subsequent draft, they were incredibly focused and everyone persisted. Not a single kid said, “No way, I can’t do this!”  Doing this activity helped the students understand how feedback works and the three key terms resonated with them.