Making Curriculum Pop

Bobby, we're groovin' so great here
I want the engineer to let the tape keep runnin'
We're gonna do something funny right here
We're gonna stop real quick and rap a little
'Cause then we're gonna keep it goin'

- James Brown "Talkin' Loud and Saying Nothing"

Based on the comments on the Cartoon “Did You Read?” Quiz a lot of you were interested in these type of simple playbook additions. The Cartoon “Did you Read?” Quiz wasn’t exactly rocket science, but sometimes we just have to stop and articulate the simple stuff. Today’s playbook move falls into the same category – “cool – but not rocket science.”

Have you ever been in this situation like this?

You have a class where the students will be presenting something – a math investigation, a science experiment, a speech, a proposal or a research project. You thought about having people present in groups but you would actually prefer to have the students share their work with the whole class. You want to that engage with every presentation. Your concern? How do you keep students engaged and focused on their peers' work?

You’re not a slouch, you have an elaborate project sheet and a brilliant rubric. You arrived early to your class to make sure the room was arranged for an audience. You know students should have some sort of peer feedback slip, but alas there are only so many hours in a day.

Sans the brilliance, permutations of this scenario happened to me THREE times this week...

• My undergraduates had an assignment where they had to interview practicing teachers about their use of literacy strategies. On Thursday, they were scheduled to present their findings for the class.
• Also on Thursday, Nicole (my wife) told me that her high school students were reading their creative non-fiction stories to the class. It was story day and she wondered if I had any peer feedback templates.
• Today (Friday), I'm teaching a bunch college professors at the City Colleges of Chicago. This morning, each professor is presenting program assessment proposals.

We all know how easy it is to lose focus during presentations - even when they're fantastic. (I’m not gifted unless we can agree that losing focus during presentations is a marker of giftedness. If this is true I am am man of exceptional aptitude in this domain.) I needed a peer feedback slip for these three classes. What’s a dude to do?

After twelve years teaching you’d think I’d have a “universal” peer feedback slip that I could just pull of the computer, print and play. That wasn’t the case.

On Wednesday, I made a mental list of some prompts that one might be able to use for any presentation. Out of that little ditty evolved the (drum roll) Peer Feedback Fun Slip:

Below you will find a reproducible PDF of the slip (two per page) for your pedagogical pleasure.

EDITORIAL NOTE: I uploaded an updated PDF on Nov. 9, 2009 because an MC Popper said the grey in the slip didn't Xerox well. The new slip has less shading.

These types of tools (aka Learning Experience Organizers – LEOs©) are the type of things that, in my opinion, separate the posers from the pros. That being said, I already told you I was in the poser category again this week :)

Why are these type of LEOs so important?

1. They’re differentiated. Remember, differentiation can be done by offering choices around content, processes and product. In many ways this silly little slip allows students to choose what content they are going to respond to, how they are going to process that content thus allowing each student to create slightly differentiated product (aka learning footprints). You can further differentiate this LEO© by asking students to choose who they give feedback to - you can say something like: "We're having nine presentations today. I want you to give feedback fun to six of the nine presenters."

2. They create footprints of student learning. When my undergrads asked practicing teachers how they know students are learning at least three teachers said, “I just know from the look in their eyes.”
If we want folks - especially policy makers - to take our profession seriously we need to be able to show evidence of student learning. If you’re an administrator you might like to call these types of slips “data.” These little learning footprints will capture feedback about students' successes and struggles that can be used to adjust instruction.

3. They shift students from passive to active learning. Instead of passive listening they now have a focus for interacting with the speaker's words and ideas.

4. The slips hold both student and teacher accountable for learning outcomes. Oh, snap! I used the "A" word.

To bring it all together you can impress your administrator by saying, with a very straight face, “I’m using the Peer Feedback Fun slips as data: they encourage students to be active learners, while creating learning footprints that prove I hold students accountable for differentiated learning outcomes built around my learning objectives.“

Smokin' admin-u-speak free of charge.

Again, this is not rocket science, but a it is a helpful “universal” PDF you can use when pressed for time. If you've got a better peer assessment slip, other ideas, or suggestions please leave feedback and post cool documents below. It is always fun to have discussions about this stuff.

New slogan the MC Pop Playbook – “meeting all your teaching needs.”

Have an ebullient weekend,


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yessss. i like the use of scripting--it's been one of the few thing si think has worked well in my classroom.



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