The teacher finishes giving instructions and sits down for students to begin completing the assignment. While students work, the teacher grades papers and prepares for the next hour, answering some questions here and there. As students finish the work, the assignments get turned in to be graded later.
If this scenario sounds familiar, then you are not alone. Teachers traditionally follow the model of present, practice, and let students work independently. There is a much better use of teacher time: feedback-in-action.
Feedback-in-action shifts a teacher from treating work as an autopsy to more like an ICU. Instead of waiting for students to make mistakes and leave class, the teacher makes formative assessments the norm.
There are a number of ways to make feedback-in-action a standard by doing the following at regular intervals during class: Check some answers as a class, spot check students’ papers, have students who finished early take a mini-answer key to assist students, and check partial products with small groups. Students no longer wait until the next day to know whether they got the concept or not.
By going to a small group and checking two or three questions, the teacher and/or peers can clear up misconceptions and fix problems. More importantly, students who know what they are doing can receive more than praise; teachers can expand, elaborate, and dig deeper to raise a student’s proficiency.
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