Seeing Anew

eye-of-horusThere seem to be parallels between what George does at our ITLL sessions and what we try to do in our high school classes.  Watching a great teacher reminds one of what is at the heart of great teaching.

A great teacher stands among his listeners and embodies his passion (his subject).  This embodiment is inspiring and activates a genuine desire to learn.  Once interest is ignited, students are willingly lead out of their echo chambers and are gently encouraged to try on different ideas and ways of thinking.  Given time, opportunities to experiment, and the space to question, the new ideas and ways of thinking become internalized. This process is transformative, and a great teacher makes it happen!

Great teachers do not teach what to think; rather, great teachers teach how to think.  As a result, we (students and teachers alike) see anew. T.S. Elliot’s words are appropriate here:

We shall not cease from exploration,
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. (“Little Gidding”)


This is good teaching; this is meaningful learning: To be lead out in order to see anew!


Thanks to George and all my fellow ITLLs for reminding me of this.

Peer Feedback- Google Forms?


Though ‘Google Forms’ may seem archaic to tech savvy people, I used it for the first time a few weeks ago!! The possible uses of this ‘app’ in the classroom seem vast, but I was looking for ways to improve how my students provide peer feedback and ask questions during/after oral presentations.  I am so glad that I tried this and I’m excited to share the results.

Context: I teach a film anaysis unit using Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho to my Grade 10 English class.  The summative assignment is a group project wherein groups of 4 students select a 30-60 second clip from the film to analyse, paying attention to how craft shapes meaning, and prepare and present a 10 minute presentation on their findings.  Again, I was looking for ways to improve student reflection and peer feedback/questions.

Here’s my process:

First: I created a Google Form exit slip so that I could practice creating forms and figure out how to best give my students access once created.

Exit slip 1 question

Nothing fancy but it worked!  Using, I created a managable URL.  Within seconds, the students accessed the form and left their comments. I couldn’t believe it worked and as we watched the comments pop-up, I decided that I would also use Google Forms for two more reflection exit slips (one more during the planning time and a summative reflection at the end of the unit).

exit slip 1

Second: I then created separate forms and URLs for each of the groups.  Not particularly time consuming–I made one “master” and then selected “make a copy.”  Because I wanted each group’s form to include their film clip, I then edited each one switching out the clips. Note: I also wanted to insert their slide show, but I haven’t figured that out yet This form asks students to complete 5 prompts/questions.


Forms 1

Third:  After each group presented, I gave the class time to complete the peer feedback form–I projected the form “live” as the students were writing their feedback.  One of the prompts asked students to ask a question or asked for clarification about the ideas presented.  The presenters saw the questions come up and began to address them.


Forms 5

I also asked students to evaluate each other using the marking guide and offer specific ways future presentations could be improved.

Forms 4Forms 7


The students appreciated the instant feedback and several mentioned that they loved being able to show the feedback to their parents.

NOTE:  I was terrified that some students would be inappropriate or insensitive.  Before the first presentation, we talked about my concerns and I explained my expectations clearly and explicitly.  I am so pleased to report that not one inappropriate comment or question was written.  I did, however, make a “Name” question as question #1 (required)–I will continue to do this.


Fourth: I concluded the unit with a reflection assignment.  The students were asked a series of questions about the unit generally, the final assignment, the group process, and their contribution.  I found the responses “thin,” as they were usually limited to a sentence or sentence fragment.  Next time, I will be clearer about the depth of reflection is appropriate and why.

Final reflection 1 Final Reflection 2 Final Reflection 3 pie chart Final reflection 4 Final reflection 5

Final Thoughts:  I am pleased that I gave Google Forms a go.  Of the goals I set, the most success is connected to how students asked questions. There was something so dynamic about the questions and comments coming in live and permanent; students seemed eager to respond and clarify.   In terms of the refections, both during and after the process, there is room for improvement.  It seems that when students are writing on their phones, they (perhaps correctly) think the responses should be short and quick.  More need to be done in this area.  I also loved that my desk was not burried in exit slips and reflections and that all of the information and feedback is saved digitally for future reference.