The Importance of Giving Feedback to Students

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“Wow, that is some really bad handwriting, isn’t it?” “Don’t worry about why that’s there; that’s just something I wrote for myself.” These two comments are often heard in classrooms. Have you ever been on the receiving end of one or both of these? How about on the other end; the end that’s actually making the comment? Studies show that teacher feedback and comments are important to students. So why is it that some of the comments that teachers leave are either illegible (chicken scratch handwriting) or inscrutable (cannot decipher their relevance to the piece of writing)? I believe as teachers, we try to make comments quickly to make sure we get our thoughts out on paper. We don’t want to miss anything that needs corrected, or forget about a point that we liked while reading the student’s writing, so we make quick marks or leave small comments as placeholders. We need something to remind us where to go back to so we can leave more in depth comments at the end or in a conference with the student. I have also seen small markings on papers that can only be associated with cave markings. They may be check marks or lines or even scribbles. What are they there for? What do they mean? This confusion stemming from the markings or illegible comments can create serious student anxiety. It is important to remember that there is a person on the other end of that writing and they will be looking at whatever comments are on their work, so the comments need to be legible
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