Less is More when it comes to Effective Feedback







In order to promote the personal and academic advancement of our students we give feedback. Thankfully there is much research on the complexities of this important aspect of teaching and learning and one very important idea that I hold to be significant is that less (feedback) is more (effective).

Susan Brookhart, author of the book, “How to give Effective Feedback to Your Students” and quoted in this article;

Why Giving Effective Feedback Is Trickier Than It Seems

Recommends using small amounts of targeted feedback that the person can easily digest and quickly apply, rather than overloading them with too many, albeit useful tips, that may overwhelm and be too much for them to action.

I think it’s also important that the positives shared at the start of the feedback chat we have with the student, are not overwhelmed in substance or number by the suggestions for improvement. For each extra recommendation will surely eat away any sense of achievement earlier gained, and may leave the student feeling rather burdened with a sense of hopelessness.

Feedback needs to be for improvement, not for depression and thus should be limited and constructive with time given for further practice.



More than just Praise for Effort


While reading this article based on an interview with Carol Dweck, I was happy to be reminded that developing a Growth Mindset is a process and that it’s not really possible to have a Growth Mindset all the time for everything!

No matter our positive intentions, there will be times as we travel through life that our mindset will be challenged, as with our students. So it is important to not only give students praise for their efforts but to also give them the strategies they need; to develop their skills, to take on learning challenges, to be successful and to develop their own growth mindset.

And also, to foster a love of learning and hope in their own futures!


Peaceful Language

Using language for peace

The celebration of International Peace One Day day gave students the opportunity to communicate and collaborate with peers of different ages, genders, cultures and linguistic backgrounds, to name a few. They had fun for sure and many will, I hope, carry the memories of that day with them for a long time.

The importance of language in the negotiation of peaceful interactions can not be overstated. Students require ongoing practice with engaging in these kind of interactions, to support them in their growth toward becoming global citizens.  Further, Peace Education needs to be explicitly taught to students in order to raise their consciousness about problems, and to brainstorm and identify possible solutions in order to be active workers for change.

Some ways we currently explicitly teach students in elementary is through using the Learner Profile, Attitudes and Gecko’s Choices. Role plays and problem solving meetings also support students to think through issues, discuss solutions and make plans for action. In this way we help to prepare students for future challenges and give them the tools for success.

Supporting Multilingualism through Britannica


Britannica Search in the Library

This past week my class had a really successful and interesting introduction to using Britannica on the ipads, in the library. Rachel effectively built upon her earlier lesson of searching for texts using ISPP Destiny, then going through Destiny again, we accessed Britannica.

Keeping the needs of young language learners in mind, Rachel showed us 2 really useful facilities that the students immediately accessed and reported back on with excitement. Firstly within the elementary section the articles have an icon that enables students to listen to the text being read, with the words being automatically highlighted thereby matching visual and auditory clues.

But wait there’s more…… articles accessed at reading levels 2 and 3 (middle school level) are able to be translated into dozens of languages. The students enthusiastically tried this out and were amazed to see the speed of translation. Sadly one Khmer student claimed not to be able to read her mother tongue however other students said that they could read and understand articles in their first language.

We will continue to access Britannica especially seeing how easy it is to access and how it can support both student engagement and learning. But don’t take my word for it, go ahead and check it out for yourself.


The Tree of Language


At the recent hopes and concerns meetings I took the opportunity to discuss with parents effective ways to support their child’s acquisition of English. They were particularly receptive to a tree analogy I shared and said it greatly helped their understanding. I explained that the trunk is the primary language. As with a tree, the primary language needs to keep growing and remain strong in order to support the growth of branches, that represent new languages, knowledge and understandings. A strong and continuously evolving primary language (trunk), enables the effective transfer of conceptual understandings and linguistic skills (branches).

I encouraged the parents to keep reading to their children in the mother tongue and developing their primary vocabulary. As concepts first encountered and understood in this language, can be more easily transfer to other languages. I also encouraged them to make reading fun by doing for example tandem reading and explaining the unknowns, (I advised not sending children to the dictionary and making reading a chore) along with making comparisons between languages on words and phrasing. Some parents were relieved and excited to be encouraged to read in their mother tongue. I really hope that all of them were inspired enough to make the time to read with their child, whatever the language.