Last month I described how one ninth grade English teacher leveraged her students’ shared experiences to prepare them to analyze advanced literature. She asked students to write 100 words about a particular moment from a competitive game that they had just played.
Luis wrote this:
…And when they said this I was so stressed out and frustrated because I had no clue what song had the word “Love” in the title because I hadn’t really been listening to music as much as I used to for the past 3 days so my mind tends to wander off into a different type of direction.
I was hearing a lot of the other team feeling more confident in knowing their songs while our team wasn’t being confident on what songs had the word “Love” in the title. But it was even more frustrating when I had one song at least in mind at the last second, but I forgot what it was called due to the other amount of stress I had to deal with during the other rounds.
The teacher’s response was simple—but very strategic. She focused Luis on the moment he describes at the end when he has a song in mind but can’t quite recall it. She highlighted the words “I had one song at least in mind” and wrote a comment that shows how his language elicited empathy: “Ugh, the stress of the game blocked your memory. That is so frustrating!”
Then she assigned him a revision assignment: Write 3-5 more sentences about what you were doing at that moment at the end of the game.
Luis wrote: “My fist hit the table. Then I yelled, ‘But I know this.’ Chiara stared at me as if I was crazy.”
And then the teacher reacts again—this time mirroring the energy that Luis shows here: “Oh Luis, I can feel it too. Chiara must have been so surprised!”
This approach to feedback shows Luis that if he pushes himself to write more about a specific moment, he will find new ways of connecting with a reader. In a couple of weeks when he starts writing about complex text, he is going to need that confidence and energy to read closely and share his original analysis in writing.
You can read more about how this approach to feedback works in response to other types of student work here.
And, if you’d like to learn more about how you can implement this approach to feedback, please contact Riveting Results here.