Eureka and Middle School Math · Remote/Digital Learning · UDL in Practice · Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Hearing from Students: Distance Learning (Extended)

For the past five or six years, as the year winds down in June, my colleague and I have always created a feedback form for our students.  I think it’s important to note that we ask for feedback throughout the year, not just in June.  As a teacher shared in one of my graduate classes, by June, the kids are often burnt and it can be hard to get good responses from them.  I have done a lot of thinking about how to work to avoid that experience, some of which I have blogged about earlier.  I think asking students to engage in reflection throughout the year, in small and large ways, builds the culture of feedback so that they take each feedback opportunity pretty seriously.  I’ve watched students look a little panicked when I’ve followed up with them on feedback they gave me, like they didn’t believe I was ever going to read what they wrote.  It only takes one time for them to realize that I read everything and take it very seriously!

This year, in light of the COVID-19 situation, my colleague and I decided we definitely still wanted feedback from the kids, but we took a slightly different approach.  First, we asked them to focus solely on the last few months of school, the COVID period, rather than looking at the year-long experience.  Second, and the reason why we narrowed the focus, we asked them specifically to tell us what worked, what didn’t work, and why (for both), plus what they recommended for us as teachers and for themselves as students with more remote learning on the horizon.  My colleague and I didn’t choose to be teachers in a remote emergency setting and we worked insanely hard to make the learning experience powerful and meaningful for the kids.  Knowing that, it was easy and very beneficial to receive their feedback, which we have already started using to shape our plans for the fall.

Usually, when I review feedback from students, I include their written comments.  While I will do that, in next week’s post, I found myself needing to pull their visual feedback out first–it was clear and helped me see some trends that will shape decisions we make as we begin school this fall.  The two classes, Standard and Extended, are separated, as the Extended students worked on novel content the entire time we were in remote emergency learning, so their experience was very different from the Standard students, who were reviewing for most of the time.  I have the question we asked and student responses, plus, where there was a scale, I included it for reference.

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Scale:  1–I hated it; 4–I loved it.

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Scale:  1–Pretty slow; 4–It moved way too fast.

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Scale:  1–I needed more; 4–There was more than I needed.

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Scale:  1–I needed more; 4–There were plenty of resources.

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