Providing Written Feedback via Video

Once I published the Snagit Chrome Extension blog, I asked myself, What would have made that blog even better?

Then it came to me.

A video example of a teacher giving student feedback.

Providing feedback is the area I want to improve the most. I have a tendency to give too much feedback, making myself, as Carol Jago wrote in Papers, Papers, Papers, the better writer. However, as Ms. Jago also wrote, our job as teachers is to make our students to the better writers, not ourselves.


In the Google Classroom "Turn-In" Button blog, I explained a quick feedback trick from Papers, Papers, Papers where the teacher simply highlights an awkward sentence on a student papers and requires small groups to struggle through the revision process under the teacher's monitoring.

This suggestion is super cool and will be used in my class. However, I would like an arsenal of revision techniques that do not require me to become the only better writer in the class.

One technique is Teaching Students to Use Tech to Self-Edit. Another technique that I have advocated for years and is the focus of this blog post is revising an anonymous student's writing on video. Students love this method. In fact, many students beg me to use their writing as an example because they want to know my thought process, not just my feedback. And, they want to become better writers.

Up until this summer, I exclusively used the desktop version of Snagit for both image and video capture. The paid desktop version offers more options than the free chrome extension including, but not limited to, selecting the area you want to record, pausing during the recording session, and video trimming after the video has been recorded. The Snagit Chrome extension, however, is free, works on a Chromebook and is free. Did I mention that it's free?

Now, here is the issue with the free version, without the ability to record a designated area on my Chromebook screen, how do I hide identifying student information? Some students love public attention while other students shrink in their chairs at the very thought of unwanted criticism. Additionally, removing the student information allows the revision process to be universal, as opposed to directed at one student and, thus, applying to only that one student.

Furthermore, writing is a very personal process. Recently, a dear friend asked me to read and offer suggestions for her new blog. She even sent me the blog via Google Docs. Of course, I offered multiple, and I do mean multiple suggestions on this incredible blog post that I loved. My adult friend was taken back by my written comments that lacked an explanation of my thought process and quickly wrote back, "It was a very rough draft." We then discussed the importance of teaching students how difficult the revision process is. The greatest writers never finish in the first draft. Even editors struggle on making appropriate revision suggestions.

Which brings me back to the importance of providing written and verbal feedback via video. A recorded screencast allows me to explain why I made suggestions while acting as a writing cheerleader. When posted on Google Classroom, the video can be viewed by everyone in the class as many times as they want. However, the screencast video should not be the end of the lesson. Instead, it should be an introduction to a scaffolded lesson on revision.

Have you ever asked students to read a partner's writing and offer suggestions for improvement? Did students read the paper and say, "This is perfect. I wouldn't change a thing"? Of course, they did. Students do not know how to offer suggestions. They must be taught. This is why the teacher should model how to provide written feedback via video prior to a revision lesson.

Allow me to explain the process of selecting a student essay via Google Classroom before providing a video example.

First the students write their drafts in Google Classroom using the MLA Quarter 1 template. (Please read Teaching MLA Format in Google Classroom for more information). Next the teacher opens the class folder and selects one essay. The teacher may have read and provided limited feedback on multiple or all student essays prior to selecting the writing example, or randomly selected one.  (I prefer to use a strong student model to demonstrate that even the best writers must revise). If the teacher is using the free version of Snagit, and why wouldn't you, the teacher makes a copy of the selected essay and removes all identifying information.

The student writing I selected was written by a 7th Grader last February. The Titanic historical fiction piece is amazing, and I hand-selected this student to move to an 8th Grade Honors English for the following year. Even so, I made multiple revision suggestions. I even struggled with my suggestions and made revisions to my own revisions as I read one particular paragraph. The editor struggle is extremely important to model.

Now, let's be honest, creating a video revision is scary because we teachers lay out our own struggles as writers and editors. We must acknowledge that even experienced writers and editors make mistakes. I am sure that you will find better ways than I did to revise the student writing. However, good writers and editors take chances. Good writers and editors allow themselves to fail. Knowing this, I am posting the example video that I created with Snagit Chrome extension and opening myself to criticism.

Teaching writing is not easy. Most students (and people in general) would rather write once and never look at it again. Unfortunately, this means that we do not grow as writers. This means that we continue writing the same exact way with the sam exact errors. This means that we are wasting our time. 

I did not write this blog post in one sitting. I have made multiple revisions that were necessary to clearly convey the importance of providing written feedback via video. Fortunately, I was taught to revise by my incredible elementary, junior high and high school teachers, who made me, not just themselves, a better writer.


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