#CovertFeedback by @TeacherToolkit

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Sssh Black woman Feedback Covert


Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
Read more about @TeacherToolkit

This is a blog about opportunities for students to redraft work to produce smarter outcomes and act on teacher feedback.

Detailed oral and written feedback should be provided so learners know how well they have done and how to improve. This is no easy feat in every lesson! This blog discusses a few covert ideas to ensure all students are reading, responding and acting on feedback without even knowing it.

How It Works?

The simplest idea for teachers embedding ‘re-drafting’ as a learning process, is to name all pieces of work as a ‘draft!’ In my own subject Design Technology, this is naturally placed in the design process for developing ideas through a sequence of initial ideas; developed ideas and a final idea. This process is restricted by the typical teacher-technique where we are often found asking students to complete 5 ideas in order to move forward! This is very debilitating …

So, here are my top 5 covert press-ganging opportunities to encourage students to love drafting and redrafting work time and time again, not for the purpose of delaying or jumping through hoops, but for the process of learning and acting on feedback.

This is Covert Feedback. Redrafting undercover!

Detective Undercover

Image: EtchantDigital


  1. Come up with your own simple colour-coded tracking system that monitors a sequence of classwork. The example below shows that Billy Cheater has moved onto Stage 2 without completing the first part of the process, therefore missing a vital opportunity for initial feedback in order to ensure progress and impact at an earlier stage.
  • Kaine Alwaysfirst = Completed (Stage 1) Rough Ideas and is now in the process of (Stage 2) Re-drafting Rough Ideas.
  • Sarah Copy = Completed (Stage 1) Rough Ideas and is now in the process of (Stage 2) Re-drafting Rough Ideas.
  • Ahmed Cutscorners = In process of (Stage 1) Rough Ideas and is falling behind.
  • Billy Cheater = Incomplete (Stage 1) Rough Ideas and has moved onto the process of (Stage 2) Re-drafting Rough Ideas.
  • Nafisa Do-Good = Completed (Stage 1) Rough Ideas and (Stage 2) Re-drafts. Has moved onto (Stage 3) Final Ideas.

(diagram to follow)

  1. Introduce a keyword and ask the students to highlight a sentence in their work. Students are then asked to re-draft the same sentence using the keyword and alternative vocabulary.
  2. Alternatively, ask students to swap their work and each takes responsibility to edit, add or omit the work based on what they have learnt.
  3. In small groups get your students to take turns to scrutinise and improve each others’ work, before presenting what they have modified to the other groups. Try Conveyor-Belt Marking by @MrLockyer? It may even reduce your workload?
  4. Set a 100 words challenge; then redraft to 75 words, and then 50 words. The challenge is for students to keep all the main points and self-correct. (This is a great idea by @PhilBeadle to improve literacy and refine language.)

Teachers Tip:

Pre-determine student groups based on your seating plan, current progress and attainment of groups of learners. Don’t leave coupling groups of students up to chance. Have a strategy!

Reporting Journalist Student Writing Interview

Image: KQED

Take It Further:

Create two or three press-reporters who will be equipped with a series of teacher-questions aimed at investigating and probing other students in the class. Each reporter should be given an objective to achieve and perhaps do this in secret. Who can provide the greatest difference in first to second re-drafted pieces of work? Which student demonstrates a full understanding of today’s keyword?

Consider verbal feedback strategies too. Not everything needs to be written down! This has led to a marking frenzy of triple-marking and even teachers now recording VF in books, to indicate that ‘Verbal Feedback has taken place. This is nonsense! Make verbal feedback habitual and covert; make redrafting routine so that student responses are rephrased with additional keywords connected to demonstrate assimilated progress. And for goodness sake, don’t write it down!

You can read more here.


4 thoughts on “#CovertFeedback by @TeacherToolkit

  1. Oh the writing down verbal feedback!! As I was explaining to the other half – it wasted precious feedback time in class (there is no way I was going to remember it at the end of the day!!) and it meant I fed back to fewer pupils. The stupid thing is that if I had just written VF and then the students carried on working then either they had improved or they hadn’t!! It shows the quality of the feedback and whether they understood right there!! I like the ideas to move towards making them more independent. While we may not be able to do as much of the peer assessment in primary school we could certainly modify some of the ideas and still use them!!

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