Teaching World Languages: The Co-Constructed Feedback Process (Pt. 2)

Co-constructed feedback is a collaborative conversation of student performance based on a scaled learning target, performance toward proficiency success criteria, student self-assessment, and teacher feedback. In part one of this blog series, I described the process of co-constructed feedback and what it can look like in your classroom.

Here are four ways to make it a worthwhile experience for both you and your students. 

The Benefits of Co-Constructed Feedback

1. Focus on the feedback

Student feedback should be immediate. This is always a difficult task given we have so much on our plates, but timely comments are necessary. If possible, try to provide them within 1-2 days of the assessment and remember to make them personal. Giving specific, targeted feedback that focuses on student’s strengths and areas of growth will take the attention off the letter grade. Feedback can be given in a variety of ways—written, verbally, or as a recorded response in their recording tool. 

In my experience, it is best to have a one on one conversation with students during class time.  This is where you have the chance to make meaning of the learning target and performance toward proficiency success criteria together. You can answer questions and eliminate any misunderstandings your students might have about their progress.  Students should lead the conversation while you ask some probing questions:

  • How does this performance reflect growth from your last performance?
  • Can you give me a specific example of a target-level ________ (an open-ended question, varied word choice, etc.)?
  • What is your action plan for improvement?
  • If you could change one thing about this performance, what would it be?
  • If you could re-do this performance, how would it look different?
Jori Greenhill (author of this post) pictured center at ACTFL 2019 with colleagues Elfie Repel (left) and Jennifer Zizzo (right).
2. Build relationships

Co-constructive feedback allows us to build trusting, lasting relationships with our students.  Taking the time to pull them away from the rest of their classmates once every theme, strengthens our understanding of individual student needs and allows students to take ownership of their learning. Because these conversations are conducted in English, students feel less pressure to talk with you and are comfortable analyzing and discussing their strengths and weaknesses.

3. Provide ongoing opportunities

The feedback process helps to inform and shape our future instruction. It aids in team collaboration of assessments and promotes a deeper comprehension of success criteria.

Data informs teams and teachers how to design lessons around collective areas for growth. Teachers can home in on one particular area as identified by students on a post-feedback survey that includes questions to help reiterate what was discussed during the conference (identifying strengths and areas of growth) but also provides a space for students to determine specific actions steps they will take to make improvements to their area of growth.  What can they do to bridge the gaps in their own learning?

It is also important to provide additional opportunities for formative practice to individual students outside of class time. Ensuring students are given opportunities for remediation and re-performance is the final component of the process if they are not meeting the target. Don’t let the learning stop with the assessment! For example, an identified area of growth might be “Text Type” which includes expanding a message and fulfilling all areas of the prompt. A proper plan for that student could be to have them work with a list of transition words or vocabulary and write a paragraph which expands upon their original message. It could be having a second conversation with a classmate or tutor, specifically focusing on elaboration and details. Maybe it is simply formulating a creative introduction or conclusion, so listening to examples of classmate’s conversations could be a beneficial strategy.

Remediation is individualized, so every plan will be different depending on your student’s needs. When you and your student decide together that they are ready to be re-assessed, go ahead and give them another similar prompt so that they can show you how they have grown.

4. Try peer co-construction

Once students are strong at constructing feedback, have them co-construct for their peers. Spend quality time explicitly teaching and modeling to students how to reflect and how to offer valuable feedback to their peers. Encourage students’ use of “I” rather than “we” when they are reflecting on their own performance. Some examples of useful phrases to help aid in their discussions may include the questions I posted above or:

  • Tell me how you think it went.
  • Identify an area of strength. / Name something you’re proud of.
  • Identify an area for growth. / Tell me something you still need to work on. 

If you would like to try the co-constructive process but don’t know where to begin, start small. Create feedback or reflection sheets that match your school’s success criteria. Design activities to help students self-evaluate. Explicitly teach and model what meaningful feedback looks like so students can assess one another. Each of these steps will help you feel more comfortable with the process and promote positive classroom relationships.

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Looking for support for your language class? Learn more about HMH’s World Languages programs.