Any teacher who has read Harry Wong’s The First Days of School knows one of the book’s hard and fast rules: never grade student work with a red pen. I would add that rule’s G Suite for Education corollary: never use negative stickers to give feedback on a Google Jamboard Jam.
Before Google Classroom, teachers brought home stacks of student assignments and hand wrote feedback with a pen (red or otherwise). As someone who struggles with organizing papers, this killed me as a teacher. I struggled to stay organized and give useful and timely feedback. Thankfully, Classroom empowers teachers to give students feedback on their work using four different modalities with neither printing nor photocopying required by the student or the teacher.
Before we explore them, please do not take this as a suggestion to use all four of these modalities of feedback. Teachers should consider what works best for their workflow and how their students respond. Having said that, it is great that Google Classroom gives teachers options for feedback beyond writing on printed assignments.
Feedback Modality 1: Text
Text comments are the easiest way to give feedback in Google Classroom. Classroom has its own comment feature. The comment feature native to Google Docs, Drawings, Sheets, and Slides works as well. A teacher can click any of these three options when reviewing a Google Drive assignment to give text feedback.
There is one caveat. Students see teacher text comments as they work on an assignment. Once students submit an assignment, they are unable to see comments until a teacher returns it to them. Here is a visual depiction of this:
Please watch this video for a demonstration of using Google Classroom to give students text feedback:
Classroom offers more than just text comment feedback. However, it is important to understand how text comments work in Classroom because they are the basis of two more modalities of feedback.
Feedback Modality 2: Audio
Vocaroo is a web-based audio recorder. It is great for feedback in Google Classroom because it renders a link to an audio recording. Think of this as very similar to a Google Drive sharing link. Simply go to the Vocaroo website and press record:
Then click “Save & Share”:
Copy the URL Vocaroo generates. Then paste it into a Google Classroom comment:
Please watch this video for a demonstration of using Vocaroo to give students audio feedback in Google Classroom:
Feedback Modality 3: Video
If a teacher is comfortable doing so, they can go beyond audio feedback with video feedback. Use Screencastify to screen record going through an assignment and giving feedback. Screencastify generates a Google Drive sharing link. The link is very conspicuous after a Screencastify recording ends:
Simply paste the link into a Google Classroom comment:
Please watch this video for a demonstration of using Screencastify to give students video feedback in Google Classroom:
Feedback Modality 4: Handwriting
Google Classroom also enables old fashioned written feedback. The advantage here is that written feedback saves to Google Drive so students do not need binder and backpack organization skills to keep track of their teacher’s feedback. For teachers to give written feedback in Google Classroom, they need to use the Classroom mobile app on phones, tablets, or Play Store enabled Chromebooks.
While viewing student work in an assignment, click on a file. Then click the edit pencil in the upper-right corner of the screen.
This opens a new version of the file as a PDF in an editor. The editor enables the teacher to annotate with a highlighter, marker, pen, and typed text tools:
Once all feedback is written, click the save button in the upper-right corner of the screen:
There is now a PDF with the written feedback added as a file to the assignment. This PDF is saved to Google Drive! This is how it appears in the Classroom mobile app:
Please watch this video for a demonstration of using the Google Classroom mobile app to give students written feedback:
What do you think? How do you give students feedback with Google Classroom? Please comment below or tweet me, @TomEMullaney.
Photo from pxhere.