Writing reports and giving feedback: some quick and easy stress-free solutions.
By Alex More
Reporting is such an important part of our job. John Hattie, a famous New Zealand educator ranked student self-reporting as the second highest and most effective pedagogical influence in schools, attracting an affect score of 1.33 in his 2013 meta-analysis. This means that students knowing and understanding how they are getting on at school is crucial to their success. There are lots of ways to inform them how they are getting on during the school day but the traditional teacher style report system is still expected in schools, so we are going to have a look at how to make teachers lives easier while still producing effective reports.
In this Resources and Ideas Blog, we are going to review 3 products that will make marking and feedback a breeze.
Product 1: TWINKL Report Writing Bank
Twinkl Educational Publishing is an online educational publishing house, producing teaching and educational materials. Their Report Writing Bank is awesome. Here are a quick review and guide on how to use it.
Check out Twinkl’s website www.twinkl.co.uk
You can navigate a wealth of resources but we are focusing on teacher reports. Use the search engine to find Teacher Comments / Reports. Here’s the link to this resource
I used the KS3/4 English comment bank to write some reports for my Year 8 Literacy group. This comment bank separates spelling and grammar from speaking and listening so you can really differentiate reports and personalise each one.
Here is what I liked about this Twinkl resource
- Huge range of comments so you can differentiate and avoid repetitive statements.
- The comments are well thought out and meaningful for the student.
- Student-friendly language used in the comments, easy for students and parents to interpret.
- No jargon used in the comments, simple language that’s well articulated.
- Colorful and interactive interface.
- Simple to use and reasonably priced product.
- The comment sections are separated into Speaking & Listening; writing; reading; spelling and grammar and general comments.
The only negative I could find is that it took a little time to get used to the program, inputting names and assigning comments. This is a minor detail. Perhaps Twinkl could link up some quick help Youtube videos to work alongside their products and give customers a quick ‘How To’ on their resources.
“Twinkl Secondary provides instant access to a complete range of teacher created, engaging and inspiring teaching, planning and assessment materials. ”
To purchase this resource or find similar products click this link
Product 2: Google Drive
Trust me this is a game changer. Google Drive is an online place to store files documents slides photos and Resources. I’ve been using this resource for the last 3 years and can’t imagine life without it. There is one feature in particular ‘Voice Typing’ which is awesome for creating comment banks. If you don’t have a Google Drive account create one, it’s simple to do!
Once you are logged on your homepage will look like this …
Step 1 – Create a Google Doc
So Google’s version of Microsoft Word is Google Docs full stop it’s an online interactive word processing tool that in my experience is far superior to its Microsoft counterpart. To create a Google Doc just click the New icon (top left of the page)
Once in Docs opt for a blank document and you will be presented with a toolbar that looks like this …
All you need to do now is hit the Tools tab and scroll down to ‘Voice Typing’. This cool little icon will appear on the left of your screen.
Click to speak and away you go. You’ll have to activate the microphone on your PC or device but essentially Google Docs listens to your voice and types for you.
Here is what I liked about this product
- Voice recognition is futuristic, robot-like and pretty cool. I used to dream of a technology like this early in my teaching career and Google have created it
- You can stop and edit as you go
- It’s crazy quick – must faster than my typing
- You can say things like ‘full stop’ ‘new paragraph’ and Google actually does it for you.
- I created 30 comments in 4 minutes and 10 seconds – that’s epic!
- It’s completely FREE to use
As expected, there are some drawbacks to this product. The technology is there but it could evolve even more.
- It’s quite hard to use initially and takes a little getting used to.
- It’s a robot-function and will make mistakes. The key is to allow time to correct these mistakes at the end.
- It will literally type everything you say so pick your words wisely.
It would be a useful product for recording minutes of a meeting but this technology requires a human touch to ensure what is written makes sense. I use Grammarly to spell-check and autocorrect. I would advise all Google Docs users back this up with a spell checking platform.
Product 3: Shadow Puppet
This is an App that’s free to download in its most simplistic form. For Apple users just download it from the App Store. There is a web-based free version available also.
This App is great for verbal marking and feedback but doesn’t work for teacher reports like Twinkl and Google Docs.
It’s simple to use and you can share feedback via a URL link which can be emailed to your students. Here’s a look at how to use Shadow Puppet
Download the App on your phone or tablet.
Your display screen will look like this
Shadow Puppet will want to access your photos. Allow this. Essentially, what you are going to do is to photograph student work then comment over the top of the work. The result is a short-video that students can view which gives them verbal feedback on their paper, report or home study.
You can either take pictures of their work or use images stored in the Shadow Puppet ‘Puppet Ideas’ section. I use this App to give verbal feedback only and don’t use the ‘create engaging lessons’ function.
This function allows you to create a new project. You’ll have to do this for each new piece of work you wish to mark and give verbal feedback on. For the example here I have uploaded a page from a recent thesis on mixed-ability teaching groups. I took screenshots using my phone of the pages I wished to give feedback on then just activated the microphone and spoke over each slide.
If you are using this App for this first time it gives a quick but helpful mini-tutorial.
Once you go live you get a 3-second countdown then the first picture you selected goes live and your comments begin. The microphone will record what you say.
You get 30 seconds of speaking time for the first slide so make it quick, 10 seconds for each subsequent slide so not a huge capacity. Keep your feedback concise! It’s a useful App to draw students attention to areas on their work they have made mistakes or misunderstood what they should be writing.
Once you have recorded all the slides you wish to do hit SAVE and Shadow Puppet will give you options to share via email or various social media platforms. I always click the URL link and just email the URL to the students.
Here is what I liked about this product
- It’s free to download and simple to use
- You can take screenshots of student work on your phone or tablet which this App can access
- It provides a platform for a concise summary of student work. I find it great for GCSE exam paper feedback and BTEC assignments
- You can email the URL so students receive a visual video of their work being marked or discussed by their teacher – they love this feature!
There are some drawbacks with Shadow Puppet also which could be ironed out.
- The App does crash occasionally
- Being restricted to 10 seconds per slide can be annoying – I frequently run out of time
- If you make a mistake mid-slide you have to scrap the whole project and start again which can be frustrating and time-consuming
- The free version of Shadow Puppet is ok but the paid version is much better. As with many educational Apps they want to entice you in and get you to upgrade.
So, there you have it. Three different ways to mark and feedback to your students. All 3 products save time when compared to the traditional and laborious marking tasks. Give them a try and hopefully, it will lead to a little more you time!