Theology Teacher and Educational Technology Coordinator
Christopher Cole is the Educational Technology Coordinator at Strake Jesuit College in Texas, where he also teaches Theology. Chris teaches a flipped classroom where lectures are pre-recorded to be watched at home and class time is used for activities. This setup allows him to experiment with innovative new methods of teaching including peer feedback.
Chris uses Peergrade in a variety of ways, even combining it with other popular classroom tools. One such tool is Kahoot!, which enables teachers to make engaging, interactive quizzes. Students reinforce their knowledge when taking quizzes, but there is even more to be learned by actually designing them. This is exactly what happens in Chris’ class, where each student creates a quiz based on one of three different images of the Church. The students hand in their Kahoot quizzes to Peergrade, evaluating each other’s quizzes using criteria such as “Overall, how would you rate this Kahoot as a tool for studying the entirety of the image of the Church it covers?” and “Any specific comments on how to improve for next time?”.
Chris’ students also use Peergrade to give constructive feedback to their peers regarding their participation in group work. The students work in groups in class and then use Peergrade to comment on how their group members are doing. The criteria used include, “What is something positive this person brings to the team?”, “Based upon your experience in the team, speak to this person’s skill of collaboration.” and “Based upon your experience in the team, speak to this person’s preparation for class.”. The task of giving feedback to your group members means that students get an idea about how their peers perceive their contributions and also encourages them to self-reflect.
Building writing skills through feedback
Peer feedback is also seen as valuable for enhancing essay writing. Students are asked to spend a 45 minute class period in groups to write a defense of a prompt made by Chris. Here is an example of one of the rubric criteria they use for giving feedback on these essays:
Feedback on Feedback
Another use case from Chris’ course is to have students create mind maps using a mind-mapping tool of their choice (Chris recommends either Ideament, Mindmeister or Sketchboard) and then give feedback to one another on the content and layout of the mind-maps. Students give feedback on the feedback they’ve received and rate its usefulness. It is important to focus on improving student feedback as this will lead to them handing in better work.
I think one of the best features is the feedback on feedback – really seeing what constructive feedback looks like.
Since starting with Peergrade, Chris has been advocating its use to other teachers in subjects ranging from English to Science. He is also leading a professional development session for other faculties where he introduces the concepts of peer feedback to new teachers and helps them get started.
I think peer grading in general is fantastic. Last week I was out in California and spread it to about five or six teachers from other places around the nation.
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