One of the beautiful things about teaching in today’s digitally driven world is that there are literally TONS of tools and extensions that can make good practices more approachable for classroom teachers.
Need an example? Then check out the CheckMark extension for the Chrome browser.
Once installed, CheckMark makes it possible for teachers to add common comments to Google Docs by highlighting and then clicking one button.
Check it out here:
Can you see how valuable this is?
Classroom teachers spend countless hours giving students feedback on written assignments. Often, we stop giving specific feedback simply because the process takes too much time, energy and effort to feel worthwhile. In organizational theory, that’s called a transaction cost — and the simple truth is that core behaviors are almost always abandoned whenever their transaction costs exceed their perceived benefits.
By automating the process of adding common comments to student work products, CheckMark has made it possible for more teachers to give kids targeted feedback in a timely way. That’s essential — particularly given the important role that targeted feedback can play in moving learners forward.
What I love the best about the CheckMark extension is that teachers can add their own custom comments to the CheckMark extension.
That’s SUPER important simply because teachers often have unique criteria for scoring individual assignments — and those criteria almost always extend beyond the simple grammar and mechanics issues that CheckMark has preloaded into their extension.
Here’s an example: I want to see my students add additional wonder questions to the conclusions of every lab report that they write for me. That’s because wondering is a HUGE part of new scientific discovery. Those wonder questions, however, need to be clearly connected to the concepts that we are studying in each individual lab.
I often comment on wonder questions that students add to their written products. I’ll say things like:
- Great wonder question! You have me thinking here.
- Can you make a prediction about your wonder question using data from our lab?
- What do you think the answer to your wonder question will be? Why?
I love adding those comments because it shows students how much I value wondering in class — but I hate typing those same comments over and over again while reviewing 120 assignments because it’s time consuming times ten! CheckMark will make that easier for me going forward because I can easily add them to the extension — and revise them from assignment to assignment as needed.
I haven’t dug too deeply into CheckMark’s abilities yet, but my next step is to see whether or not STUDENTS can use the extension to give feedback to one another. That would make it even more valuable to me because it could enable more meaningful peer feedback experiences in my classroom — a key step in moving from a culture of grading to a culture of feedback in schools and in helping students recognize that teachers aren’t the only sources of feedback in any classroom.
My guess it that students CAN use CheckMark to give one another feedback as long as they have the ability to add extensions to Chrome through their student logins.
In our district, extensions have to be approved by the district technology team in order to be installed by students — so I may have a few hoops to jump through before I can start using CheckMark for peer feedback. But jumping through those hoops will be totally worth it because it will increase the quality of feedback that my students can give to one another.
Long story short: I’m pretty jazzed by the potential that I see in CheckMark. Any tool that makes it possible to provide more feedback — and more targeted feedback — to my students in less time is a win for everyone.
Author’s Note: Want to learn more about the role that feedback can play in the modern classroom? Check out Creating a Culture of Feedback — the book I recently wrote with Paul Cancellieri.
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