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Spring would roll around when I was teaching, and I’d tell myself that I was on the cusp of becoming the teacher I’d always imagined myself to be. I could Marie Kondo my classroom until it looked like something that Instagrammers would call “GOALS!” or “INSPO!” I could deal with my beleaguered Google Drive and add folder colors to accelerate the organization process. And I could finally gain control of workflow in the classroom. The funny part is that I never gave up on this dream. So I haven’t created the perfect bell-ringer procedure yet. It’s still March! Plenty of time! No one knows where the stapler and extra pens should be stored? I’ll hit the Container Store in a few weeks— it’s fine.
Assuming I’m not the only teacher always ready to try out a new timesaving tip, I’m going to share one. This tip focuses on an easy way to use Google Forms for peer feedback. In fact, learners can give and receive peer feedback using just one Google Form.
Why spend time planning ways to gather peer feedback?
Peer feedback is one of the most powerful tools a teacher has, and if used correctly, it will allow learners to become better thinkers and communicators.
The Speaking & Listening portion of the ELA Common Core State Standards ask learners to:
- Delineate a speaker’s argument and specific claims, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.
- Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.
The ISTE Standards ask learners to be computational thinkers who “communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.” But giving feedback is only half of what our learners need to know how to do.
In order to become “computational thinkers” (ISTE standards again), learners are asked to:
- collect data (feedback through a Google Form)
- use digital tools to analyze the data (a Google Sheet)
- use that data to “facilitate problem-solving and decision-making”
In other words, learners must use their feedback to identify their strengths and areas for improvement. Then they need to devise the steps they’ll take to work toward mastering the skill.
Giving and receiving feedback are skills that need to be taught
Teachers use peer feedback as part of many class activities—group work, speeches, group presentations and writing, just to name a few. But some learners find it uncomfortable to critique their peers and may resist taking this step in the learning process. They also may not know where to put their focus: Do they comment on the liveliness of the speaker? The props they used? The slides? Music? IDK? It was good?
In order for peer feedback to be useful, it must be specific, actionable and prescriptive. You can’t ask your learners to provide feedback immediately. They must have time to:
- reflect on what they saw
- weigh it against the standards they’re using to assess it
- share their thoughts in a way that the person collecting it can use to move forward
Two great articles to check out on how to teach giving and receiving feedback are:
- “Seven Key Characteristics of Better Feedback” by Grant Wiggins, who was a co-author of “Understanding by Design”
- “Peer Feedback: Making it Meaningful” by Dr. Caitlin Tucker, teacher and one of my favorite education writers
Create a customized, reusable feedback form for every learner
When you ask learners to observe, view or listen to their classmates’ work in order to provide peer feedback, they’ll need an easy way to start assessing. And the learner being assessed will need a simple place to find that feedback. Enter: personalized Google Forms for peer feedback.
If the thought of making 25 personalized Google Forms for each speaking assignment for each class period makes you want to click away to something less stressful, like political Twitter—consider that 10 minutes of pain will get you months of benefits.
How to create a feedback template
By “template,” I mean that you will create a Google Form with all of the questions and prompts you’d like your learners to use as a guide while giving feedback.
You can create any type of question or prompt on your Google Forms for peer feedback, but remember to keep it simple. The point of watching someone give a speech is to watch them give a speech, not worry about keeping up with a lengthy assessment form.
I recommend using these settings:
Allow students to edit their feedback before submitting it to the speaker. We want it to be their best work, and sometimes they can’t do that in only a few minutes. Limit responses to just one.
Collect their addresses by default so they can’t turn in anonymous feedback. That road can only lead to sorrow. And make all questions required because … same reason.
How to share the link to your Form template via Google Classroom, email or on your Hāpara Workspace
For learners to turn your template into their own Form and see the feedback they receive, they’ll need to make a copy of the template so they own the Form.
You can do this for them automatically by forcing them to make a copy of the Form when they open your link. How? Start with your template.
Ignore the pop-up and go up to the address bar. You’ll change the word “edit” to “copy.” Then copy this address—it’s the one you’ll share with your learners.
When learners open your link, this is what they’ll see. They’ll make a copy and become owners of their own Forms.
After learners have accessed their Forms, walk them through the steps they’ll need to personalize them. They should change the document’s name, insert their name into the Form title and add you as a collaborator (if you’d like to see the feedback they receive).
How to distribute peer feedback links
Create a document where learners will share links to their Forms. Use this one if you’d like—I’ve even embedded instructions for learners who don’t know how to find the link to their form.
Store the link to this document wherever you store your resource documents on Google Classroom, a Google Site, your Hāpara Workspace, etc. Ensure the sharing settings allow anyone with the link to be an editor.
When it’s time for learners to speak publicly, student feedback Forms are only a click away. The feedback is available instantly to the speakers, and they can even view graphs or charts from questions. Gathering and evaluating data is a great skill to embed into any lesson. For ways to move the data from information to action, check out “Getting Students to Engage With Feedback” from Edutopia and “What Are Your Students Doing with the Feedback You Provide?” from ASCD.
How to reuse a Google Form
When you want learners to collect peer feedback again, don’t reinvent the wheel—and don’t just make a copy of the Google Form you’ve already created. (That doesn’t work. The spreadsheet gets way too bogged down with a mixture of new and old data that doesn’t stay where it should.) It’s simple to reuse a Google Form if you guide your learners through these steps.
- First, they should make sure they’ve created a spreadsheet with their first speech or presentation results. They can save the document with their class files and use it as a baseline for their progress as they continue to present to the class.
- Next, they’ll open their form and select “Responses,” and then turn off the Form.
- Afterward, they’ll click on the three dots and select “Unlink form.” Now they’ll start with a fresh spreadsheet the next time they use the Form.
- Finally, they’ll go back to the three dots and select “Delete all responses.” This gets all of the responses cleared from the Form itself. Now the Form has been reset, so to speak, and it’s ready to use again.
Using Google Forms for peer feedback will work in any situation in which you’d like learners to offer one another feedback. And they’ll learn about reusing Google Forms, too! Keep your students learning by keeping peer feedback flowing all year long!