FiSH and Tips

(Sorry about the terrible title – try to find it in your hearts to forgive me!)

We’ve been looking for some ways to improve peer feedback in our marking and assessment. As a school we have agreed on a model that is based on:

1/3 ‘Flick and Tick’ (an acknowledgement of work done in draft books: notes, planning, etc.)
1/3 Self or peer assessment
1/3 Close teacher marking and detailed feedback

Which is all well and good but, as we know, the quality of student feedback can be patchy:

“Dis is mint!!! Luv it!!! <3 😛

“I love the way you have coloured in Thomas Hardy’s moustache”

“This is well crap.”

So I loved the blogpost by @lisajaneashes here: which detailed the idea of Kind, Specific, Helpful feedback framework originally developed by Ron Berger. I thought Lisa’s blogpost perfectly illustrated how students might grasp an understanding of it through the fishes metaphor. (You’ll have to read it really or you’ll think I’m barking, because fish feature a fair bit in this post).

So I took the Kind Specific Helpful idea to school and tried it out on a few colleagues, and, to make it clear, I thought it would be useful to demonstrate it by showing the process as we went along, using @lisajaneashes’ analogy of improving the drawing of a fish.

I drew a really simple fish (literally a one-line drawing with a dot for an eye)

And then I asked each person “What do you think of my fish?” Most people replied that it “seemed OK” (although one member of SLT did say “It’s a bit crap”. Way to boost my self-esteem, Alan!)

So then I asked “What do you think of it if I said it’s supposed to be realistic?” and each person this time agreed it wasn’t the best! (Al said “It’s even crapper than I thought then.”)

I said I needed some help to make it better… BUT they had to make their feedback Kind Specific and Helpful. (KIND, Alan, Kind.)

And then the process started whereby they acted – much like the students in Lisa’s blog – to give much better guidance.

So I drew another line fish – either on paper or on a whiteboard each time – and improved it using their advice, but they weren’t allowed to draw it for me; they had to explain to me what I needed to do and I would act on their KSH advice, e.g.

“Maybe make the mouth rounder and have bubbles coming out.”

“Draw some scales on the fish.”

“Do some fins.”

“Make the tail bigger and draw little lines along it so we can see its texture.”

After a little while, we had a much better, more realistic fish. And we compared it to the original version and agreed that it was 1) greatly improved and 2) the K.S.H. feedback had made it so.

Yes, OK, it’s not brilliant but surely an improvement, and you can see what I mean…

I went through this process several times with different colleagues and each time the process – and delight in the process – was great.

It was when I was showing it to some of my English colleagues that one of them had a bit of a brainwave. “If you changed ‘Kind’ to ‘Friendly’, it would almost look like FiSH feedback: F.S.H. rather than K.S.H.”. Brilliant!

I ran it all past some of my classes before embarking on some peer feedback and the responses and quality of feedback was fabulous. Other colleagues agreed when they tried it with their own classes, in a range of subjects.

So then I designed a poster using this as the framework for use in classrooms in every subject. We introduced it across school and now everyone knows what ‘FiSH feedback’ is so it’s now part of our vocabulary.

I’m indebted to @lisajaneashes for kindly allowing me to ‘magpie’ her thoughts and write about this as an example of how other teachers’ ideas can develop and grow from one idea to another.

Cross-posted from Ed-U-Like

1 thought on “FiSH and Tips

  1. Mark Labrow

    This is a great post, so easy to understand and I love the fact that you’ve already taken an idea and developed it to suit the needs of your own school and learners. It’s great that you’re developing a language for learning and FiSH works really well.

    I’ve used a similar technique in the past (but didn’t coin it) to make theatre and develop scripts. You have the group as the audience and a couple or three performers on stage. You then allow them to direct the action using the FiSH model. This way you can create collaborative scene which them can be written up by individuals into scenes and sketches.

    Will be using FiSH more methinks!!

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