History Fair & the Process of Feedback, Revisions, and Learning from Failure

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. There is no disgrace in honest failure; there is disgrace in fearing to fail. – Henry Ford

In the past, I have allowed students to turn in projects early for Extra Credit. The result was poorly done projects in the name of 10 free points. Students were, essentially, gaining 10, but losing 20. Failure on my part. I am not offering this option, instead, I have a more constructive plan.

Feedback is critical to learning. Considering Ford’s quote, I imagine he received feedback in the form of failed business ventures and poor sales. Students can get theirs through a grade, but there’s something “Final” about that. Instead, I’m offering students a chance to present their work to classmates. I will grade their projects with the rubric, award them a few extra points, and allow students to give projects feedback. Students are then able to revise their projects based on our advice.

The obvious caution here is students giving each other feedback to each other. The first thought is, “wouldn’t kids be mean?” Sure, that’s a possibility, but we have 2 lessons to teach which may help avoid that problem.

  1. We need to learn to GIVE feedback in a positive, constructive fashion. This is an important skill for students to learn, as we can often be terse, harsh, and inconsiderate of others.
  2. We need to learn to LISTEN to feedback and be honest about our work. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of our work, but an honest evaluation of how it can improve is critical to students becoming better producers.

Both of these are not only valid lessons to learn as our students develop, but this is how our model of teaching and learning is evolving. Our own evaluation model directs us to guide students to do exactly this in (domain 3d), and create an environment in which students collaborate productively and enthusiastically (domain 2b). This is an informal form of formative feedback or assessment, something crucial in students’ development.

Update: Mrs. Horeni spoke to the class about this process and shared a terrific visual to support that component of learning!