Student Feedback Journal

I want to try something new. I'm not sure what the outcome will be or what it should look like, so I will attempt to flesh it out here.

First I am in love with this easy-to-manage idea for warm ups and exit slips from @approx_normal. So I plan on trying that.

But I'm thinking of incorporating a student feedback journal into that warm-up time once a week.

I'm imagining a journal where students self-reflect on their learning behaviors throughout the week and then I comment back with feedback- strategies to try, habits I notice, things to avoid, common mistakes, etc. At this point, I'm leaning strictly toward self-reflection, not mathematical work. The index cards will give me the feedback I need. I'd like this journal to give them the feedback they need.

I'm thinking I would do that on Mondays and that would give me the rest of the week and the weekend to respond to each student.

So on our first Monday back, I'm thinking about asking them to reflect on the final exam. I like the questions from crstn85's Test Correction's post:

How did you study for this test?
Did you feel prepared before you took the test?
Did you feel you were doing well while you were taking the test?
Are you happy with the grade you earned?

I'm imagining I will get responses like:
"You can't study for a math test."
"Why study when you let us use index cards?"
"My grade sucks."
"I thought I would do good until I got to #1."
"This test was nothing like what we do in class."

I'm imagining I will respond like this:
"I need to teach you how to study for a math test."
"Index cards are a reminder, but they can't remind you if you never learned in the first place. How could we use index cards better?"
"What could you do next time to improve your grade?"
"What made you feel confident before the test? What made you lose confidence?"
"If this doesn't look like what we did in class, what do we need to change?"

And so will begin a lovely give and take of communication. Right? Yeah, right.

I think the first time I will let them write freely. The second time, I hope to help them clean up their writing a bit. I plan to do this by answering the same questions they are answering, at the same time, from a teacher's perspective. Then the next week, I will put mine on the doc camera and have them compare their responses to mine. Hopefully, they will point out things like writing complete sentences, using capital letters and appropriate grammar, restating the question, not using text speak, etc. Then I can give feedback on their responses as well as to how their responses are written.

I really want the purpose of these journals to be twofold: 1. For them to self-reflect on their habits so that I can hold them accountable and eventually they can hold themselves accountable. 2. To give myself an easy opportunity to give attention and feedback to EVERY student.

Obviously, self-reflection is a big part of why we tweet and blog. Obviously, I don't need to lecture you on the merits of self-reflection, study habits, and writing. Eventually, I'd like this to lead to math portfolios. But first, I need to spend more time researching that idea, deciding what I want those to be, and ultimately, creating one myself. My fairy godteachers @druinok and @approx_normal helped me to realize that I need to go through the experience myself before putting my students through that experience. It needs to be meaningful and have purpose. I also have a tendency to rush in to things, give up too quickly, and try to take on the world all at once. See, self-reflection + teacher feedback = better behavior.

If you noticed, I did a lot of 'imagining' and 'thinking' in this post. And now here's your chance to bring me back to reality.

Comment below.


  1. Great job of doing some visualizing on what prompted you to try something new and what you expect out of the students!

    The feedback journals remind me learning logs. I have used them with test corrections as well as a summary of a unit/chapter.

    One thing that is hard for the kids is to write about what they learned rather than what they did. In other words, many kids will write "We took notes over FOIL" rather than "To multiply binomials, you distribute the first term in the first binomial to both terms in the second binomial, then...."

    Good luck! Let us know how it goes.

  2. Awesome!! I think @druinok posted some great ideas to Twitter that I think I also want to try. I think "obnoxious pain in my butt" is a better adjective for me than "fairy godteacher", though. I just would hate to see a teacher with as many ideas and as much spirit as you get frustrated so early in the teaching game. If your journals go well, I may steal that idea. :)