Giving Effective Feedback for SEI and TESOL Students
Feedback Is Vital...
Feedback is not just the final mark or the final grade of a student's output. In simple language, feedback is the response of an audience to a presentation, whether in printed or in moving form. It is telling what was good about the presentation and what should and can be improved.
In language learning, feedback is an essential part of the teaching and learning process. Giving feedback helps the students to construct a better output. It focuses them on what matters and what does not. At the same time, good feedback motivates and affirms student learning. For TESOL (Teachers of English to Students of Other Languages) and SEI (Structured English Immersion) classes, the sense that the students did something well encourages them to learn and practice more.
Two Stars and A Wish
As a preparation, the teacher will need to create stars that are big enough for the students to write on. There should be two stars allotted for each student. These stars represent the good points about a student's output during feedback time.
For beginners, the teacher can pre-print some phrases on the stars, which the students can complete such as, "I like the ________________." "I think the _______________________ was good." "The best part was ____________."
Aside from the stars, the teacher should also prepare a thought bubble illustrating the "wish part" of the activity. There should be one thought bubble for each student. The thought bubble represent the points for improvement of the students' output.
For beginners, phrases to be completed can serve as a guide for students. For example, "The _________________________ can be better." "I think the _________________ can still be changed." Take note that the statements should be on the "I" persona in order to have a more positive reception from the person who receives the feedback. This is especially important for the "wish" part.
During the activity, assign one output to be assessed to each student. If it's a group activity, assign an output for each group. Distribute the stars and the wish. Give the students around 5 minutes to assess the work assigned to them. Make sure to have given guidelines of what they should look for. If they are assessing an essay, focus the students' attention on ideas, organization, word choice and mechanics depending on their level of proficiency. If a speech presentation is to be assessed, direct them to clarity, posture, pronunciation, diction and emotion. This will helps them concentrate on the essential matters of the activity rather than trying to assess things that are unimportant.
After the allotted time, each student or group will present their two stars and a wish. They can simply read what they wrote on the stars and on the "wish." For advanced learners, encourage them to articulate their reasons for giving stars and a wish. The flow of feedback can be wish-star-star or star-wish-star. The important thing is the feedback should always end with a positive note.
It is also imperative that the atmosphere during feedback time is constructive. The teacher should make it clear that feedback is not about the students but about their work. Clarify to those who are giving feedback that this part aims to help their peers to improve his/her work not to blame them for a bad output. Finally, don't forget to process the students' feedback. Praise those who give good feedback.