In traditional classrooms, students submit assignments or projects only once for a grade. A student might get feedback, but that feedback is too late to alter the grade. It is too late to apply the feedback to improve their learning. It can evoke a perfectionism mentality in students. Perfectionism is the opposite of a growth mindset. Students become overwhelmed and stressed because they can not be wrong or fail. There is no rebounding from the final grade. This can trigger procrastination as a coping mechanism, which decreases the likelihood of performing well. In extreme cases, it causes learned helplessness, and students become disengaged and lose confidence. There are better ways.
The Iterative Approach
An Agile Classroom slices assignments and projects into small chunks called ‘progress increments.’ Because it is smaller, students complete it faster, meaning feedback happens sooner. When feedback happens sooner, students can iterate their work toward mastery. This provides a sense of agency, confidence, and resilience. Iterative learning increments create a fail-safe for students so it is not a one-and-done. This is how an Agile Classroom is different.
The Review Routine
An Agile Classroom encourages a frequent tempo and structure to demonstrate progress and receive feedback on each increment. This is called the Review Routine. The Review Routine occurs at the end of each Learning Sprint. Since Learning Sprints repeat at least every four weeks, students frequently engage in the Review Routine, providing more practice in the feedback and improvement process. Frequent practice increases students’ ability to perform the Review Routine independently. Students learn to ask for, receive, offer, evaluate, and use feedback to improve. As students take on more ownership, teachers are freed from classroom management and can focus on more important things that bring joy back to teaching. One could think of this as a type of formative assessment.
The purpose of the Review Routine is to give and receive feedback on what learners produced and their progress toward proficiency. It is not feedback on how they got the work done or how they worked together. This kind of feedback is for the Retrospective Routine, which follows immediately after the Review.
Scaffolding the Review Routine
All the Self-Directed Learning Routines in Agile Classrooms can be configured and grown along the Spectrums of Collaboration and Choice. For simplicity of this article, we will focus on the polar ends of each Spectrum. There are gradients in between these polarities in which teachers and students can play and grow within.
The Review Routine Along the Collaboration Spectrum
The Collaboration Spectrum describes five levels of how students may work together. From low collaboration to high. At the low end, each individual demonstrates their progress and receives feedback on their work. At the high end of the Collaboration Spectrum, students co-create and co-learn, sharing ownership over their tasks and goal. Students demonstrate and receive feedback as a team.
There are other levels in between these extremes, as outlined in the Spectrum of Collaboration.
The Review Routine Along the Choice Spectrum
At the beginning of the Choice Spectrum, students are entirely dependent on the teacher for the Review. The teacher provides feedback to learners, groups, or the whole class. The goal of an Agile Classroom is not just getting earlier feedback. We desire to increase learners’ ability to give and receive feedback independently and with their peers. So, the teacher explicitly models and teaches the Review Routine as she provides the feedback. Modeling is a scaffold for students to learn how the Review Routine works.
Now that students have observed the teacher model the Review, students start the journey of claiming more responsibility in the process. Over time, students may reach the other end of the Choice Spectrum, where they conduct the Review Routine independently. This can be a mix of self-assessment or peer assessments.
Students incrementally grow their ability to self-direct the Review Routine as outlined in the Spectrum of Choice.
THE ADVICE GAME
There are many ways to structure learner feedback. We developed a simple way for peer-based feedback called “The Advice Game.” Three questions are asked after demonstrating their progress:
- What do you wonder?
- What did you like?
- What advice do you have to make it better?
Students write their responses to these three questions and then analyze the data. Evaluating the feedback may influence their goals for future Learning Sprints.
We created a Review Routine Protocol for each of the Five Self-Directed Learning Routines.
To download the printable Review Protocol and The Advice Game, visit the Agile Classrooms Resources page.
The Review Routine is an adaptation of the Sprint Review in Scrum for K12 classrooms.