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Feedback in the Innovation Academy: Part 2

Creating a culture of feedback

As mentioned in Part I, there are many different ways to provide feedback, but at the core of this system is the culture behind it. As mentioned by Berger, feedback is most effective when it is “kind,” “specific,” and “helpful.” We strive to do this in the IA by scaffolding and modeling feedback, providing the opportunity for multiple iterations and by analyzing models of excellent work.

Ron Berger demonstrates how a culture of feedback can be created. Source:

Scaffolding and Modeling Feedback

In order to provide students a clear, friendly and safe way to provide feedback to each other we scaffold the experience as well as model good feedback. One way to help guide students is to provide a detailed scaffold at the beginning on which they can model their work. In the example below, which was inspired by the Peer Critique process at High Tech High, students are given a clear format to follow in order to learn the key components of feedback. As students get more comfortable giving feedback, the scaffolds can become less detailed.

Multiple Iterations

A key aspect of feedback is that it must build a “mindset of continuous improvement,” by giving students the opportunity to improve their work as well as practice the skills leading up to the final product. To do this, multiple iterations must be built into the project design. For example, in our tenth-grade unit on photography students have the chance to go through multiple iterations of composing photos, creating a photo story, investigating their topic and writing their articles.

Beautiful work is the result of incorporating student interests into challenging projects while providing them with the chance to go through several iterations.
Students have the chance to get feedback throughout the process, rather than simply on the final product.
Students keep track of the different versions of their work so that they can reflect on the process in the end as well as visualize and justify the changes they make.

Analyzing Models of Excellent Work

Models are exemplars which are used to help students clearly see the components of high-quality work. The models used can take on various forms, from past student work to professional examples. A key aspect of using models is that students work together to define the qualities that make a given piece of work excellent or in need of improvement. We use exemplars in the IA for two reasons. First, by critiquing and analyzing models together, students can build and visualize the standards by which they will be assessed. These models enable students to both create their own rubrics and critique each other’s work in a safe manner by referring to qualities of the exemplar work when giving feedback.

An example of how this is done can be seen in our documentary unit. This unit includes a critique of numerous documentary films so that students can understand the key elements of a good documentary. For example, students will take time to analyze each piece of a documentary (beginning, middle, transitions, end) to critique how the exemplar does or does not contain the key elements of each section. Students are then encouraged to model their work after these exemplars. In the example below, you can see how the students modeled their film after the style of a Vice documentary. On the left side are screen shots from the student film and on the right are screen shots from the Vice documentaries (Exemplar 1 & Exemplar 2) that they modeled their style after.

Student work (left) models professional work (right).
Student work (left) models professional work (right).

Feedback: Bringing it all Together

  1. Provide a user-friendly way for students to give and receive feedback.

2. Provide sessions to critique and discuss models as a class to make sure that the feedback given is tangible, actionable and refers to a specific goal.

3. Provide a consistent time and space to allow for feedback that is continuous and timely.

4. Provide the opportunity for multiple iterations of a project so that students can incorporate the feedback into their final product.


7 Keys to Effective Feedback (Grant Wiggins)

7 Things to Remember about Feedback (Infographic)

7 Keys to Effective Feedback (Grant Wiggins)

Peer Critique (High Tech High)

Feedback for Learning (A collection of articles from Educational Leadership)

Peer Critique (High Tech High)

What Feedback is and isn’t and 13 Practical Examples (Grant Wiggins)

The Innovation Academy: A School Within a School

Learn More

The Innovation Academy at The American School of Lima is made up of Corey Topf (Grade 12), Bill Cotter (Grade 11), and Joe Bonnici (Grade 10).

To learn more follow us on Facebook at Roosevelt Innovation Academy and on Twitter @fdrinnovate.

Here is a link to a sampling of the books that guide what we do.