Monday, July 15, 2013

Helping Kids Give Constructive Feedback

Helping Kids Give Constructive Feedback
by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.com


When I first meet a new group of kids or adults, I'm often appalled by the way feedback is given. Individuals will comment, "That sucks!" or "Your group was dumb." Those kinds of comments don't encourage people to have a go, to participate in activities and take the risk of speaking or performing in front of others.

I believe it's my responsibility as a group leader to lay down some rules for any group at the outset. And to show by my own language and behaviour what I expect. I encourage all groups to give constructive feedback, to do so specifically and by focusing on a person's actions not the person themselves.

One simple but effective way to structure feedback is to give group members something to 'hang' it on. For some groups, this takes the form of a template or rubric with a written response. Others use oral feedback and an activity like Two Stars and a Wish. In the latter, explain to kids they must look for two things that were done well, (two stars) and one area for improvement (one wish).

Here's an example: Ben's group have just improvised a scene from Red Riding Hood. Tom comments: "I want to give a star to Milly's skipping through the forest, a star because what everyone said made me laugh and a wish to the whole group that they had made it longer." Katie comments: "I liked the way Ben acted like a girl when he was the Grandma. Everyone in the group spoke clearly. I think the story would be even better if they took the masks off so we could see their faces."

Parents can practise this with their kids when watching a movie, sharing a book, or even coaching sport teams. Teachers can establish it with quite young classes. It's crucial to model the behaviour ourselves, so kids can hear the vocabulary we choose and the body language and expressions we display. In effective parenting, we already know to give our kids encouragement and positive feedback on their achievements. Let's take it one step further and encourage our children to use constructive and positive feedback in their relationships with others.

I believe we need to model giving constructive feedback to others in our homes and classrooms. By showing kids the sort of language to use, and various ways to give feedback, we're encouraging the development of respectful, healthy relationships. If we help kids to be specific and focus first on the positive, we've taught them a valuable skill that will make them become invaluable group members and employees.

5 comments:

  1. Hi Susan,
    I love 2 stars and a wish! I was recently introduced to this idea for constructive feedback by a colleague. She had a simple stamp made that actually has 2 stars and the word wish arranged vertically. We use it in their books to provide written feedback. The children also like to use 2 stars and a wish as oral feedback for each other ....`Can we give two stars and a wish please?' A very effective, easy to use structure! Thanks for reminding me about this at the beginning of a new term. :)

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    1. Jen, that stamp sounds brilliant. And I love knowing the kids have embraced the format too.

      Thank YOU for adding value to my post here at the Book Chook!

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  2. I love the "two stars and a wish" practice, Susan! For some reason, I always found it easier to remember to provide the positive feedback first (and the "need to work on" second) with my students than with my son, perhaps because I was consciously thinking about it more in the classroom than in the home. It's definitely something that can/should be used in both. My poor son - he knows I love him, but sometimes I'm a bit too quick with my "need to work on" feedback!

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    1. I hear you, LIz! We want so much for our kids - sometimes it's a temptation to show them rather than let them work it out for themselves. Two stars and a wish is a lovely habit to have at home, at school and in the work place.

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  3. Love the 'two stars and a wish' expectation. As students become more comfortable giving and receiving feedback, it's good to teach them to ask specific questions they want the reader to address as a wish.

    Janet | expateducator.com

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