Critical Friends Feedback

Ideas may have come from NCREL, Writers Workshop, Bernajean Porter, Ewan Mcintosh, Grant Wiggins, and others.

The goal is to move beyond superficial peer conferencing and commenting, to dig into feedback that helps the "author" grow and improve in whatever form they are using. Too often the feedback students provide is superficial, commenting on what they liked without explaining why, offering generic improvement ideas, or focusing on less important elements (i.e. spelling, punctuation, etc.). How do we help students provide each other meaningful, productive feedback? How do we help students internalize those conversations to become their own best critical friend?


Student "Skills"
  • Determining the "authors" goal(s)
  • Asking clarifying and probing questions
  • Providing advice without sounding negative or patronizing/condescending
  • Knowing how to provide support while still being critical - related to trust on both sides as well (see link to Dissent & Plussing at Pixar below)
  • Understanding how far to "push" with different people
  • Knowing how much feedback/advice is enough and how much is too much
  • Being specific enough to be helpful - make it actionable
  • "Listening," trying to understand the author's stated and unstated perspective(s)

Related Pedagogical Techniques

  • What is the difference between feedback and advice?
  • How well can a teacher "teach" critical commenting if they are not regularly involved in giving AND receiving critical feedback from colleagues and students throughout the year?
  • What is the difference in the process and results when creators ask for feedback versus it being assigned? When they choose their own partner(s) versus having them assigned?
  • Thinking about blogs and other tools, how does this process change when the feedback is anonymous or from a person the creator doesn't know?

Related Resources