Title: Document-Based Questions: Warm and Cool Feeback
This video focuses on an AP World History classroom that is learning how to write document based questions for their AP exam. Document based questions are essay prompts which ask students to examine a set of documents and use them to construct an argument which uses those primary sources as evidence, alongside their own content knowledge.
In the class the video shows, the students receive warm and cool feedback, which is a way to give students information about their work. Warm feedback focuses on letting students know what they did well, cool feedback shows them where they need improvement. Warm and cool feedback, using their own words, helps students feel comfortable hearing about their own work because it doesn’t make them feel like they failed or were perfect.
Here are the rules/steps the teacher uses in the video :
- Before meeting with their writing partner (another student) for warm/cool feedback, each student writes down two goals they have for their writing. These could be two areas they felt they did well at or two area they feel like they need improvement in. These areas are found in the AP DBQ rubric which the teacher gives to the student so they are familiar with what is required and will know what to do on the AP exam.
- The student who receives the feedback creates a T-chart for them to record the warm and cool feedback they hear from their peers.
- Students then get in to their pairs and the first thing they do is to read aloud their thesis or what they think their thesis is to their partner. (Note: the teacher in the video explained that the has the student who is the most tired to do the reading first so they become energized and engaged.)
- Once each paper has been read and exchanged the students use a warm and cool feedback handout sheet to write about their response to the essay of their peers.
- After the handouts are done, students then share their feedback with their peer. The feedback starts with warm feedback and ends with cold feedback. Students also need to make sure they use the words of their peers as evidence.
- After the sharing process, students take their feedback sheets back home to revise their essay.
- When students turn in their revised essay they turn in both the old essay, the revised essay, T-chart, and the feedback sheet.
As a historian and future social studies educator I know that history is writing based discipline. Content knowledge is important, but being able to analyze primary sources, make interpretations and connections, and then writing about them is what history IS! In my future classroom, I can see myself using this particular strategy to help students improve their writing and historical skills. When I was in high school, I was always apprehensions of sharing my writing with my teachers and receiving feedback directly from them. However, I had fewer problems hearing feedback from my peers. Sometimes, though, this feedback wasn’t descriptive or helpful, instead it usually came in the form of surface level comments. Here’s what the teacher in the video does right. She structures the interaction in writing pairs by providing them a scaffold (the warm and cool feedback handout) to conduct the feedback session. In her process students know what the assignment requires (from the rubric), what to look for in their writing (the feedback sheet), and how to talk with their peers about their writing (also in the feedback sheet). Additionally, instead of receiving suggestions on how to improve in the next essay, students take the feedback they received and go home to make the revisions they need to. I think this strategy works well to improve writing, create a classroom community, build historical and social skills, and empowers students through allowing them to succeed.