Feedback … from students?

When are students asked for feedback? This often happens at the college level, but not so much during the K-12 experience.  I believe students, at all grade levels, need an opportunity to express their opinions and ideas in the classroom.

I would assume that most professionals in the education field would agree that when students feel safe in school they are more likely to learn and achieve at high levels.  Many teachers perceive the beginning of the school year as the starting point in building a collaborative environment for learning. Teachers will use a variety of methods to get to know their class.  Some teachers will utilize a puzzle strategy while others use collaborative games. Sometimes it’s a challenge to continually remind students that the classroom is a community (especially around breaks and near the end of the year!).  In my experience, I’ve found that plus/delta charts are a great tool to remind students that their input is valued. These types of charts are also utilized outside of the education realm, as seen here. I’ve found that at the very minimum, plus/delta charts are a valuable community building tool.  My practical steps to incorporate plus/delta charts in the classroom are outlined below.

1.)  Start out by drawing a chart with a + and a triangle near the top of  the writing surface

2.)  Ask the students for positive happenings in the classroom

The + represents the positive aspects of the class that the students enjoy.  The + could pertain to certain activities or projects that were assigned.  It could also represent class goals that have been achieved.  All of my examples below include “we” meaning the class.

Examples (more geared towards elementary):

+ The class was respectful during the field trip

+ We worked well in groups today

+ We enjoyed the music being played during independent work

+ We brought all of our supplies to class for the past month

3.)  Move on to the delta or negative aspects

The triangle represents items that the class needs help with.  For example, students might feel that talking when the teacher is talking is disruptive. Or students might comment that the class needs to become better at turning in assignments on time. The delta starts to become more of a problem solving piece if this process is used on a regular basis.

Examples (again, geared towards elementary):

– We were a little loud during line-up today

– We forgot to complete the homework

– We need to put more effort into our work

– We didn’t listen to the teacher’s directions before starting the assignment

4.)  Students can set goals based on the plus/delta chart.  

This can be accomplished by utilizing goal setting strategies.

If you read this far into this blog post then you probably want to see practical examples of plus/delta charts.  Here you go:

If you’re looking for a possible template to use, click here.

5.) (Optional)  Students reflect on what was discussed in class through a self-reflection journal activity.  The journal activity could actually be integrated into a language arts connection.

6.)  Hang up the plus/delta chart in the classroom as a reminder tool and refer to it as needed

After a debriefing session, I generally cover the old chart with a new chart.  Students are able to view what progress was made over time by comparing the two charts.  A chart is completed every month in some cases, but the time elapsed between charts really depends on the teacher’s preference.

Author: Matt Coaty

I've taught elementary students for the past 14 years. I enjoy reading educational research and learning from my PLN. Words on this blog are my own.

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