Why This Teacher Says Instant Feedback Is Where the Action Is

Listen to “63-Collaborating with Students is an Essential 21st-Century Skill…let Ann Coates Help you do it” on Spreaker.
If one were to make a list of essential educator skills for the 21st-Century, certainly, collaborating with students would be near the top.

This episode of the Hacking Engagement podcast, embedded above, features a collaboration expert: Ann Coates is a veteran high school teacher in Hanover, Massachusetts. Ann is all about giving timely and meaningful feedback to kids. In fact, she says:

Instant feedback is, where the actions is!

This attention-grabbing statement got me thinking. I get feedback from colleagues and administrators all the time. Some of it welcome, Jim, that was awesome! Some of it not, Jim, you need to improve your essential questions. In regard to constructive criticism, unless I act upon feedback promptly, I tend to forget it. So, give your kids timely feedback and then encourage them to act upon it.

Ann Coates the Pride of Hanover, Mass @annmcoates

Additionally, deliver feedback in a 21st Century fashion.

When I was young, I rarely read red pen comments in the margins of my research papers. I checked my grade, which was all the information I cared about. I’ll wager that you have a bevy of students, like the young James Sturtevant, who don’t read the important comments that you labored to write in their margins.

Sure, it’s frustrating, but it is what it is and perhaps you can adjust. Utilize some of Ann’s outstanding suggestions and watch kids begin to digest then act upon some of your constructive and helpful feedback. Observe your relationships with students evolve as your collaboration with them blossoms.

Hacking Engagement Again

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Utilize some of Ann’s outstanding suggestions and observe your relationships with students evolve as your collaboration with them blossoms. As our education system navigates to a more student-led learning template, student-teacher collaboration will no longer be a cool thing that a few teachers in the building have mastered.

It will be an essential skill that ALL educators simply must embrace.

The Problem

Teachers need to up their student collaboration game.

The Hack

Dedicate a portion of class time to student feedback and then have kids act upon that information.

What You Can Do Tomorrow

  1. Divide tomorrow’s lesson into tasks to be evaluated.
  2. Create opportunities to provide feedback on these tasks be it, peer-feedback, self-reflection, or directly from you.
  3. Include a dedicated time segment in the lesson for students to act upon feedback.
  4. Direct kids to resubmit and get additional advice.

Collaborating with kids is essential. Use Ann’s outstanding feedback strategies to build relationships and student learning.

Sometimes You Need to Be the Sage on the Stage

Listen to “59-Sometimes you Need to be the Sage on Stage…let Pear Deck Help” on Spreaker.

Modern educators are discouraged from being the sage on stage. As the overused cliché goes…Instead of being the sage on stage, be the guide on the side. I’m not a huge fan of this mantra.

I understand the need for presentation styles to evolve, but sometimes you need to jump up in front of your kids and inspire them! Even though much of my instruction is flipped, it’s still important to present in front of students.

While my kids enjoy my recordings, periodically I treat them to a live performance. A few years ago, my wife and I watched Jersey Boys on the big screen and then we saw it live on stage. There was no comparison. Sometimes, you have to go all Broadway on your kids. Sometimes, you need to be the sage on stage.

And here, is where Pear Deck makes its dramatic appearance.

Infuse your presentation with highly interactive engaging prompts by using this amazing tool. Morph your static sit and listenfests into intense student collaborationfests. Transform your lectures into twenty-five separate and simultaneous student-teacher conversations. Pear Deck allows you to do the following:

  • upload an existing presentation in Google Slides or PowerPoint.
  • permits students to follow your presentations on their devices, while you control the pace.
  • empowers instructors to insert engaging prompts before and during your performance.
  • hides student responses till the teacher decides to display them and student names remain a mystery.

The Problem

Modern educators need to sometimes be the Sage on Stage.

The Hack

Make your live presentations powerfully engaging with Pear Deck.

What You Can Do Tomorrow

  • Watch this brief Pear Deck tutorial.
  • Select or create a brief Google Slides or PowerPoint Presentation.
  • Insert a fabulous hook into your first slide.
  • Prompt students through Pear Deck to respond.

Pear Deck creates a collaborative and engaging presentation environment. Embrace this new way to present and enthrall your kids.

More tips & tools from James Sturtevant


Student Engagement Guru Dishes on HyperDocs

Listen to “58-Dishin’ with the HyperDocs Girls” on Spreaker.

I became aware of HyperDocs because of my mentor Kristen Kovak. I featured Kristen in Hacking Engagement Episode 39 which is on the paperless classroom.

My mentor is a grand total of 24-years-old. As I mentioned in the last episode of Hacking Engagement, older teachers like me need to get over themselves and learn from the youngsters. Not long ago, Kristen waltzed into my room and challenged me to start using this cool new tool.

My initial reactions was, Oh great! Here’s another thing I’m going to have to figure out. The good news is that mastering this tool was easy.

You create them by making a copy in Google Docs and then morphing the templates and then BAM…you upload your creation to Google Classroom. Here’s the link for the HD I created for the Korean conflict.

Hacking Google for Education

Check out 99 more ways to leverage Google Tools

Kelly Hilton, Lisa Highfill, and Sarah Landis are the co-creators of HyperDocs and authors of the HyperDocs Handbook.

These ladies have designed a remarkable website providing teachers with digital lesson templates and plenty of sample HyperDocs. Aside from outstanding organization, the templates are beautiful, which should never be underestimated.

To begin creating, simply FILE>MAKE A COPY and complete the stages of the lesson cycle by adding instructions and resources.

My final plug for the HyperDocs website is important. Many virtual tools have a free version and paid version. I’m careful about what I pay for out of my own pocket or solicit my administration to fund. I’m certain I’m not alone in this concern and the HD Girls are here to help. All there templates are free for the copying and please investigate the Teachers Give Teachers tab on their website.

The Problem

Your Google Classroom feed is an uninspiring jumbled mess.

The Solution

Introduce inspiration, organization, and beauty with HyperDocs.

What You Can Do Tomorrow?

  1. Peruse the HyperDocs lesson templates.
  2. Insert one of your lessons plan into one of their templates.
  3. Post your creation to Google Classroom.
  4. Debrief your students to see how you can improve with your next HyperDoc.

HyperDocs is a tool you’ll use weekly, if not daily!

For more cool tips and tools to engage teachers and learners daily, check out my book, Hacking Engagement: 50 Tips & Tools to Engage Teachers and Learners Daily.

Engaging Learners With Role Play and Simulations

Listen to “54-Morph Student Identities…Starring Spencer Cappel and Josh Kent” on Spreaker.

I’m guessing most teachers have employed simulations and role play in their class. It’s a great way to learn. This Hacking Engagement Podcast episode demonstrates how you can combine role play and simulations with my favorite student activity.

I love Socratic seminars! They’re the embodiment of self-directed learning and student collaboration.

Kids take a complex topic, learn about it, and then sit in a circle with their peers and apply it, discuss it, explain it, and ask questions to one another.

My experience has been that concepts, events, and topics covered in this fashion leads to deep understanding and significant engagement. But everything, even things you and your students love, will get old if you don’t alter it occasionally.

I faced this dilemma in teaching the incredibly complex topic which is the Syrian Civil War. I wanted students to engage in a Socratic Seminar, but I wanted it to be different.

We had conducted a number of such seminars and I felt the format was getting a bit stale. So, I decided that in order for my students to understand the Syrian Civil War, they needed to become the powerful actors involved.

Josh Kent and Spencer Cappel help me in this quest.

Josh Kent and Spencer Cappel

These are two outstanding young folks who will serve as this episode’s original sources. I love a lot of things about these guys, but I particularly appreciate the intellectual depth they bring to my class.

One silly note about this episode is I’ve always called Socratic seminars Socratic circles. I try to call them Socratic seminars in this episode, which I’m only partially successful doing, and it totally confuses my guests. Whoops!

Here’s a link to an earlier blog post where I explain exactly how to produce a Socratic seminar!

The Problem

Your go-to learning activity needs an upgrade.

The Solution

Morph student identities for your next Socratic seminar.

What You Can Do Tomorrow

  1. Settle on a topic.

  2. List the important players.

  3. Assign students roles.

  4. Prompt kids to research.

  5. Encourage students to be their role.

Socratic seminars are wonderful learning experiences. Keep them fresh and engaging by forcing kids to be somebody they are not!

For more student engagement strategies, check out Hacking Engagement today.

Hacking Your Students’ Screen Time Obsession

Listen to “53-Entice Kids to Confront Their Phone Obsession and Actually Look Up…AT YOU…Starring Nahom Buckles” on Spreaker.

It’s so discouraging! You’re preaching the gospel of education, enlightenment, self-improvement, promoting humanities’ greatest ideas, but then you notice that many kids are staring intently down at their laps. Unfortunately, you know why.

They need to put that sweet pair of shoes on their Amazon Wishlist before you notice this screen time obsession and redirect them.

As a contemporary instructor, I’ve felt this profound burn. I’ll bet you have too. Some teachers are totally hard-nosed. They don’t give the kids an inch on phone use during instruction. If that’s you…RESPECT! However I, like I suspect many teachers, am not so stern when it comes to students and their phones.

Plus, kids are darned adept at subtle screen time.

And let’s not forget, students can use their devices in class in the pursuit of knowledge. While I’m uncomfortable with prohibition, I’d certainly love to see kids to stare at their phones less during strategic moments of instruction.

Nahom Buckles

I promote enlightenment over prohibition. I do this with the Moment Screen Time Tracker App. As I explain in the show, I’m more comfortable giving students tools and information, have them apply it to their existence, and then hope it makes an impact. The Moment Screen Time Tracker App tracks daily screen time. Of course, I applied it to myself first.

I’ve read various stats pertaining to average daily phone use. Most data pegs usage at around 4 hours! That seemed exorbitant till I started measuring my usage. I was horrified! Check out March 31st:

At least April 3rd wasn’t bad. Unfortunately, I’d only been awake for 30 minutes!

I knew darned well that I had to expose my kids to this app. We were working through a unit on Buddhism. I was particularly interested in kids applying the concepts of non-attachment and impermanence to their lives. Our first blog prompt was on burning a mandala they drew on a square sheet of paper. Our second prompt promoted the Moment App.

Appearing on the Hacking Engagement episode above is a wonderful young man, named Nahom Buckles. Nahom will talk about how this student-led learning activity was enlightening and potentially transformative. Please don’t think this lesson must be limited to social studies.

I’ll bet with a little thought you could easily work a screen time obsession prompt into your curriculum!

The Problem

Your kids are obsessed with their phones.

The Solution

Enlighten them about the extent of this obsession with the InTheMoment App.

What You Can Do Tomorrow

  1. Download the app and track your screen time.
  2. Create a prompt based on your curriculum.
  3. Challenge students to track their phone use for 1 week.

Perhaps, a great way to manage screen time addiction is simple awareness. While it might not convert all your students, I’ll wager that many of your students, like Nahom, will become determined to make changes!