Critical Friends

Posted: September 12, 2008 in Learning..., Theory
Tags: ,

Today in German 3 we began the critical friends process.

Yesterday we talked about what a critical friend is; what those words mean when juxtaposed. Students said that it was an important friend (critical=important) as well as a friend who gives you constructive criticism to help make you a better you. Then they listed three people in the class who they felt would be a good match as a critical friend for them.

I matched friends last night. The kids who said that they could work with anyone were nice to have in one scenario… otherwise the names mostly worked out.

Today I handed back the quiz answers they wrote yesterday. I handed the answers back to the critical friend… not to the original author. Then we “corrected” the quizzes.

Here’s the key: Instead of correcting (checking off right and wrong for some point value), the students tallied the skills that needed improvement based on the mistakes made in the answer.

For instance: He should eat Pizza. Answer should be: Er soll Pizza essen. There could be a plethora of ways that someone might not get this answer correct, and instead of assigning random parts of the sentence some arbitrary point values, the students looked at what the student might not be understanding… thus getting part (or all) of it wrong. Some of the things someone might need help with for this sentence are: pronouns, modal verbs, verb conjugation, vocabulary, capitalization of nouns, word order.

So the students finished the ten sentence quiz, tallying the skills needed after each sentence. Then we made a “critical skills” list. The skills that were most often lacking went at the top of the list. Both the critical friend and the partner wrote down this list on a post-it note I handed out. They kept their post-it notes in the cover of their notebook/folder so they know what to help their critical friend with. They also then know when to give praise once their friend has figured it out.

I’m looking at doing more skill based assessment like I did earlier… instead of just points assigned for right/wrong… because THIS gives them a starting place. And critical friends give them the support.

  1. This is so glorious I don’t even have words for it. This execution sounds wicked-magical, and you’ve set the stage for the mindspace kids need to buy in. You did it!

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