This post is all about different ways students can receive feedback in Google Classroom. Yes, there are many great third party tech tools other than Google Classroom that specialize in providing student feedback, however, today’s post is going to focus on ways that we can maximize effectiveness with Google Classroom without the complications of adding third party tools.

Students without access to Gmail

In our school district, students younger than 5th grade do not have access to Gmail. These students will not be able to receive any Gmail notifications that there is feedback waiting for them to review in Google Classroom. A teacher might have left some actionable feedback for the student to read and respond to, however, the student will not receive any notifications that the feedback was left for them. Therefore, we will need to create some specific systems or procedures for our younger students so that they know the teacher left them feedback and they know how to access that feedback.

This is a combination of private comments & Google Meet. This option works well for all students and it is especially effective for students that do not have access to Gmail. With this option, the teacher could first leave private comments for their students in Google Classroom. Next, the teacher would arrange a small group or individual Google Meet. In this video chat, the teacher could guide their student(s) to track down specific private comments in Google Classroom. For example, the teacher might say, “I left some private comments for you, let’s talk about how you can find them! Go ahead and open Google Classroom in a new tab while we are chatting. Next, open up the “water cycle” assignment. Now, can you see the private comments I left for you?”

The teacher could ask the student if they understand what the private comments are asking and also if the actionable steps the teacher is suggesting make sense. This is a great opportunity for the student to talk through these private comments with the teacher before the student makes any edits to their work. Also, the private comments are in writing, so the student can always come back to review the private comments after the Google Meet is concluded.

This option creates norms and routines to have students follow a self-directed pattern to find teacher feedback and then respond to teacher feedback. This option must first start with option #1 from above. The teacher would have to host a few small group or individual Google Meets to discuss the step-by-step procedures that the students should follow. These remote routines are no different than setting up those daily or weekly routines in your physical classroom. One example might look like this:

  1. The teacher leaves private comments for each student on Wednesday of every week
  2. Students should check for private comments on the current week’s assignments by the end of the day on Thursday
  3. Students respond to the private comments and make any suggested edits to their work by Monday afternoon
Again, the teacher would have to model & explain this routine a few times in a Google Meet before it becomes automatic on the student end. Once the routine is in place, then the teacher & students can focus more on the feedback loop itself and less on memorizing the routine.

Use Private Comments to start a conversation

Private comments in Google Classroom can be a great way for teachers and students to have text based conversations. These conversations are private so that only the individual student sees the text, the class cannot see the teacher/student conversation. Another benefit of conversations through private comments is the built in “think time”. Some students need more time to process information before responding back to the teacher. Live Google Meets require very fast processing while private comments allow the students to take the time they need to think about their response before they reply.

Alice Keeler proposes you create a separate assignment for your students where the students do not turn in any work. Instead, the goal of this assignment is for the student and teacher to have a conversation about the work via private comments. You can view Alice Keeler’s 1-minute YouTube video on this workflow HERE.

Tie Your Comments to Specific Student Work

Private comments are great, however, what if the teacher has a question that is tied to a specific sentence in a student’s Google Doc? What if a teacher has a suggestion on how to improve how a student cited their sources in one of their Google Slides. For these examples, teachers will want to use the Add a Comment feature. The add a comment feature works in Google Docs, Sheets, & Slides. Highlight some text, click the “Add a Comment” button, and leave some feedback for your student. Click HERE to see how easy it is to add a comment to student work.

NOTIFY YOUR STUDENTS - You can also ensure that the student receives an email notification that you left a comment for them by adding a “+” sign and then their email address in your comment (simply type a “+” and then start tying the students name or the beginning of their email address and their name should appear on a list).

COMMENTS MAKE FEEDBACK MORE EFFICIENT - Comments tied to specific text in documents can give your students a visual glimpse on addressing the changes or improvements you are suggesting. The student does not have to toggle back and forth between an email or private comments to see the teacher’s comments, it’s all right there on the doc. Also, the students can reply back to the teacher in each comment and let the teacher know they have made the changes or they have a follow up question. Students can use the comments as a quick checklist of all of the edits they might need to make to their work before resubmitting.

COMMENTS ALLOW MORE THAN JUST TEXT - Teachers can add a lot more than just text in a comment. Maybe you want to add a link to a website that shows the student proper MLA citation, perhaps you want to include a link to a YouTube video that pushes student thinking, or maybe you want to provide a link to your rubric. You can add any link to any comment.

Formative Assessment with Google Forms

You can create a quick Google Form as a way for students to self assess their progress or understanding on a recent project or assignment. Make sure to post the self assessment at the beginning or middle of the project so that you can use the data to adjust your instruction before the project is completed. Here is a link to a blog post on The Power of Self Assessment and Google Forms.

You can also create a self grading quiz in Google Forms. I highly recommend that you use the self grading quizzes for formative assessment rather than summative assessment. Fight the temptation to create a self grading quiz to put that grade in the gradebook. I challenge you to use the responses from the quiz in a formative manner to see which parts of the lesson you need to reteach, or which small groups of students need to revisit certain concepts. Check out Eric Curt’s excellent video on how to create a self grading quiz in Google Forms.

Do you have any tips or tricks on how teachers can provide feedback to students in Google Classroom? If so, add a comment below.