Monday, April 3, 2017

Launch Week 9: Highlight and Improve the Product

What stood out to you in this chapter about highlighting and improving? What about the examples they suggested on pages 179 and 180 to help students highlight the strengths and weaknesses of their products or the 20-minute peer feedback process? Or the story about Mount Vernon Presbyterian School?

Next week we will finish up the book club by reading and discussing chapter 10, "It's Time to Launch."

If you have not already done so, register for the book club by completing this registration form. This is how we get your contact information so we can send your PGP documentation at the end of the book club. If you're not sure if you did register, I would suggest registering again. Please note -- even if you've registered for and participated in another eLearning book club in the past, you will still need to register for this one. I will send out PGPs around April 19th, so please have all your comments made by the 18th. If you would like, connect to other people reading this book on Twitter using the hashtag #launchbook.

98 comments:

  1. First of all, the author's explanation of using the word "improve" rather than "fix" really put things into perspective for me. It made me realize that the words I use can effect students' creativity. The word "improve" tells the student that they created a good product but they have a chance to make it even better. How powerful one word in this process can be!

    My students are currently creating a children's picture book. On Tuesday, the students participated in a Peer Plot Pitch. The students pitched the plot of their book to a peer to receive feedback. After reading the 20-Minute Peer Feedback Process, I am going to have my students "improve" their plot by trying this process this week!

    I was encouraged and excited to read this five-step process. Each stepping is a short period but it is a powerful short period. I think this process will help my students to produce a better children's book product.

    The students will then revise their plot and will be able to reflect on their own work and "tweak" it. This revision stage can be very powerful for my students as they see that they have created a good product but they can make it even better. The seven suggestions from John were awesome! I will be trying these with my class!

    Finally, reading about the Mt. Vernon school was inspiring. It made me think how this whole school conducts student-centered learning at all levels and how I need to make the school library that way. I need to become more aware of student questioning and how to lead the students into research and creating. This school took a simple question about recycling and turned it into a school wide initiative...how wonderful is that!!

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    1. I was struck by the short amount of time allotted for each part of the revision discussion; I reread that part to see if I had correctly understood. Students might need some adjustment to this concentration of time, yet all the more necessary for me to stick to it in order to keep them as productive as possible. When students realize they are not given more time to dawdle, they can use time more effectively.

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    2. I loved that bit about "improve" rather than "fix" as well. That is such a subtle difference, but I believe it can indeed have a huge impact on the kids' thoughts about the process.

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    3. I think learning is continuous, so "improve" is a much better word then "fix" as well. To make an analogy, just because you can drive a car doesn't mean you will never have an accident. There are many variables that lead into driving a vehicle that we can not control but yet we have to be aware of them and respond to them. Everyday, everywhere.

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    4. I think the word "improve" is also a much better word to use than "fix." As a SPED teacher I try to always use words that are going to encourage my students in a positive way, as opposed to using negative sounding words.

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  2. The biggest thing that stood out to me in this chapter was using the word improve rather than fix. I love this! We all know ways that something can be improved, but fix just sounds so negative. I will be using this language from here on out for sure!
    I think a rubric for younger kids helps them know exactly what they are expected to do. I have see projects where kids know how to receive an "A" or "B" or even "C" by doing a certain amount of items on a list. I'm not sure how I feel about giving a student the option to get a "C." We only get what we expect, so I would expect strong efforts on a rubric I put together. I'm also a big fan of a checklist of features. I use checklists more than anything so that seems like an easy one for me. Our hands on science kit lends itself to making a list of criteria to test something. This seemed to be helpful to younger students.
    The 20-Minute Feedback Process may be a little difficult for younger grades, but with modeling I'm sure it could be effective.
    As for the Mount Vernon Presbyterian School...WOW! Those three little words are more powerful than any school mission I've ever read. I read this over and over and thought about how truly powerful those three words are. It's amazing! I also love the example of recycling. My son used to go to the elementary where I teach and he asked me several times why we as a school do not recycle milk cartons. I had no valid answer for him and unfortunatley, the idea was stuck at that question. So, as I read that my mind started racing and thinking of students here now that would acel at getting this project started. "If school is meant to prepare people for real life, then why doesn't shcool look like real life?" What a question!!! If our legislators starting thinking like this think of all the incredible things we could accomplish! If we all thought like this we could change the "teaching" to "learning" and kids would benefit in so many ways!

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    1. I love the improve vs. fix mentality. So many ideas in this book just make so much sense. But I also think that it is going to take time to change the mindset of the students as well as some of their teachers!
      And you're SO right about legislators... think we could require them to read this book?? :)

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    2. I love the improve motto! I think that in teaching I try to look for a students strengths and use that to make their areas they need improving better! As a teacher, this reminded me that what I do say kids pick up on. Having a good mentality is always important!

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    3. I use the word improve in my classroom all the time! I work in a low income area and my some of my students go home to very negative situations. If I can promote more positivity in my classroom by saying "You can improve this by...." instead of "You need to fix this" then awesome!
      I also agree the 20 min. Feedback progress will be difficult in younger grades. I teach kindergarten and am not sure how I would do that in my classroom. A lot of modeling!

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  3. I like the start of the chapter as John and his son try to complete the process of metal ball in the bucket. He relates this to school-that if students were free of grades and curriculum they tend to embrace ideas and creation. We tried this 'genius hour' in our school and it did not go as planned. Students wanted to play on their phones, socialize, sleep or work on homework for another class. So my driving question is how does this really work? Do students need to be out of a classroom, or school environment? Did I just encounter unmotivated students? Was it not implemented and presented well? Did students not see a real problem or issue they felt passionate about?
    When I was in high school we had an outstanding intern program. This program allowed me to job shadow my entire senior year 3 different career fields. The end of the book touched on a similar approach. I think this 'real life connection' is so valuable to students. I'm not talking about a one day job shadow-but a lengthy and hands on approach looking at careers that interest them. I don't think any career report, project, or research is going to make quite the impact as actually working side-by-side with your future career interest.
    This drives my big question from this chapter, and what the author bring up, how to merge real life and school? What I've seen and from what I'm reading in this book I still don't have an answer for. As teachers we're getting kids ready for 'the real world' and as a FCS teacher that is my driving passion.

    So how in an education world that is tied to test scores, curriculum maps, and standards do we make kids ready for a world that has no set curriculum, standards, and no final test?

    To answer the prompt:
    I plan to use the 20-minute peer feedback process with my students this year. I liked that it was structured and it really allowed for good feedback that was useful. It didn't allow for things like, "ya, this was good..." or "I didn't like ______".

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  4. I've always found it so difficult, when working with young elementary students, to really feel good about the "highlight and improve" portion of any project or activity. (Of course I've never called it that, specifically). I love the 20 minute peer feedback process and can't wait to try it out with students. I also love the idea of changing up grouping when it's time to evaluate. Usually kids have a really hard time (for me) identifying what needs to be improved (I wrote fixed initially, then changed my wording ;). Having an outsider's perspective seems like it may helpful. "Inquiry. Impact. Innovation." I wish that could be my motto. I LOVE it.

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  5. I was impressed with the methods for discussing each others' products. I have witnessed many benefits of pairing students for critiquing projects. I have some less capable, less motivated students who do not put much muscle into their own work; however, when it is time for them to look at their classmates’ work and make suggestions, they soar. Likewise, the students who produce better work are sometimes reticent to critique and truly help others. This continues to confound me, but I see there are students at different stages of progress and development of personalities who can all bring something to the process and learn from it regardless of their academic success.

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    1. I agree that everyone has something to bring to the process. A question from a different perspective can go a long way to make a light bulb come on for someone else.

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  6. This chapter struck home with me. I recently attended a workshop and one thing that stuck with me from the workshop is the way in which we communicate with our students. Reading about the author stating using the word "improve" instead of "fix" really connected with me. I think as educators it is important for us to self reflect and think about little things like this. How would I respond to a student? What have I said in the past? How we approach a learning moment could have a positive or negative impact on a student with just a simple action.
    I plan on using the 20 min. peer feedback when we do our sample presentations of our Genius hour projects to our small groups. I feel it will be a great tool for my students to use to help improve or modify their creative designs.
    The story about Mt. Vernon was great. Such a positive forward thinking idea that truly is making a difference. My only wish is that all schools have the ability and access to implement life learning ideas for all students.

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    1. I agree, Audrey, using the word "improve" instead of "fix" really connected with me too and can make such a difference. How we approach a learning moment...or a student even...CAN and DOES have a negative or positive impact on either or both!
      I am curious about your Genius Hour projects. I'm still a little confused as to exactly what they are and how they would look. Could you give an example of yours? I like how you are going to try the 20 minute peer feedback model for this. Good luck to all!

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    2. The idea of using the word "improve" instead of "fix" I also found interesting. It seems so obvious, but we should stress that revision really should be just about making it better and refining the work instead of fixing something that's broken or "bad". It's no wonder kids dread the idea of revision, especially when they feel like their work is "broken" in some way. I like the more positive approach to improvement in this chapter. I also love the quote from Scott Adams that said that "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." That definitely put it in a better perspective for me as well.

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  7. What stuck out the most for me...... "improve" rather than "fix".
    I agree completely. Not to toot my own horn, but I already do this in my classes. However, it's always a nice reminder of why word selection is so important. When looking for improvements, students don't feel as defeated or fear that they can't do it. I always tell my kids to do their best. I'm never looking for perfection, but improvement in their work. Whether they are working on a new piece of music with their recorder or writing a composition as a class or individual, I often ask them how they can improve it and WHY? I think they learn from their shortcomings more if they are able to discover how to make improvements on their own or from a peer. They feel more ownership for their actions without the feeling of being defeated (they're good isn't good enough). Meanwhile, they aren't always looking to me for the "right" answer, especially when there might not be a clear cut answer.

    I like the 20-minute peer feedback process. I have done something like this before, but not as structured. Usually students just ended up saying..."Yeah, looks good" or "It's ok". I think it would be more beneficial to me and my students if I had them follow the plan in the book because it is more structured and allows for better feedback.

    I was taken back by the Mount Vernon Presbyterian School's application of LAUNCH. I'm curious how much time was spent on the project altogether. My school has done similar things like have a recycle competition, but not to that magnitude. It was also not started by the kids, but rather administration.

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  8. As I started a project in class instead of a recipe I found the word improve so much better instead of fix. I am always looking for a way to get better and make myt students learn more. How do I get them to that learning/ teachable moment improving this recipe instead of fixing it is very important. I do plan on using the 20 min peer feedback when we do our sample presentations of our projects to our small groups. I feel it will be a great tool for my students to use to help improve or modify their creative designs.
    I feel that this will be a good use of creating projects and making them useful tools not just recipes.
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  9. I like it that they focused on improve and not fix. I think does seem a little less intimidating. I agree with the red pen and how it made me feel as a student in high school when the teacher would edit my paper and I would feel so upset because it seemed harsh, all covered in red. I like the idea of having 20 minute peer feedback. Everyone is learning in the process. I encourage kids to ask their shoulder buddy or my favorite is ask 3 b 4 me. Kids are really good at encouraging each other and giving each other advice. I loved the Mount Vernon project! Kids can do anything they put their minds to. How powerful!

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    1. The infamous red pen! Such a stopper with kiddos. In fact my son just came home with a spelling assessment and it was covered in red and not because his words were wrong (he had started them with capitol letters instead of lowercase)...But he was so intimidated and couldn't see past all the red...

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  10. I really liked the timed aspect of the peer feedback idea. Peer feedback can be beneficial but it can also be a very stressful time for an anxious student. Having this structure will help decrease the anxiety of the feedback activity. I also liked the idea about improving instead of fixing. I used to work in a district that had changed to standards based grading. The parents were thankful that they could easily identify where student struggles were and pinpoint direct ways that they could help their child improve. It also made parent-teacher conferences significantly easier on both parties.

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  11. What stood out to me was the need for me to change my vocabulary in projects. Ouch! I never realized what a negative word ‘fix’ was. I hope that I change this immediately using the help aspects from this chapter. I will try to stop saying ‘fix’ and start saying ‘revise’. I relate better to the suggestions of pros and cons to use for my revision processes. I was taught to do this as a young adult in my home growing up and I even used it last week to help me make a personal decision. It is a good way of simplistically lay out what is exactly happening in a situation and see it from different perspectives. As far as the Mount Vernon Presbyterian School- this is a model for sure! The students saw a problem, used the research tool with peers, evaluated what could happen and I think I would even recycle more with a scoreboard on the trash. That was fun to read about. And the 3 I’s of Inquiry, Impact, and Innovation were great. I struggle with the impact aspect as I try to best instruct the students in ways that they will remember and use things taught in class. For me, it is singing. I even sing grammar songs with them to familiar tunes. It really helps when they go to learn a concept, they remember the tune. Allowing them to make songs has been fun as well. I think this is where I could use revise better than fix immediately in this case of song lyrics that cover topics… not singing ability, writing ability. Good items to ponder in this chapter for sure!

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  12. On pages 179-180 I loved the examples that the author gives about highlighting a students strengths and weakness. For myself I love to use rubrics. It is clear cut what I expect and as a class we make the rubric together (with my guidance of course). I never thought about making a pros/cons chart or a checklist of features! I am looking forward to impliment this in my classroom! I think the other thing that really hit home for me is the 20 minute feedback process. I love having students conver in writing, math, reading, ect. Why not use that here as well? Have students think, pair, share is a great thing. I also loved how the author moved other people in groups to give a fresh, new set of ideas! What a great idea!

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  13. The main thing that stood out to me in this chapter was moving from a deficit mindset of fixing to a growth mindset of refining. If they are in a culture where everyone believes in continually growing than it becomes part of what they do to review, reflect and refine (rather than fix) all of their work. I find that when I give time for groups to review their directions, checklist, or rubric to ensure the product is going to receive amazing reviews they always are proud of their work and think it is always perfect. Giving exemplars would be a great way for them to gauge how well their product is, but I find that you then get students following a recipe rather than being creative. I have found more success with peer groups reviewing and leaving ideas for iteration. I found value from the chapter in giving that peer review more guidance by finding answers to more thoughtful questions. The one suggestion that would help shift the culture to one where we always strive for growth would be allowing more time for revision on products often and not just on the one big project each year or quarter.

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  14. I really like the idea of using the word "improve" as opposed to the word "fix". Why haven't I thought about this before? I like that the students highlight their strengths and weaknesses. This is often difficult for some students to do, but with repeated exposure, I know they can improve. I like when my students receive peer feedback, but it doesn't seem to take long for the kiddos to get off track. I like the 20-minute peer feedback process. My students are used to us using a timer, and I think they would really like this time to improve the assignment. I personally like the example where the students are learning to be better critics. I want my students to come away with ideas that are valuable after meeting with the group.

    I think schools must prepare students for real life situations. If we want our students to participate in a particular activity, we have to model this behavior in our classroom. I loved the statement "Inquiry. Impact. Innovation." That should be every teacher's focus!

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    1. Well stated, Cheri. I agree with your thoughts about why haven't I thought about using improve rather than fix. Fix implies that it was broken or wrong -- not what I am trying to convey to my students AT ALL.

      Also, I want my learners to be comfortable with receiving feedback and being able to critique others. I believe the twenty minute peer feedback process would accomplish this goal.

      "Inquiry. Impact. Innovation." Dear goodness, YES!

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  15. This chapter helped me to be more self-conscience/aware of the language I use in the classroom. Seemingly similar words can have such a drastic difference (i.e. improve vs. fix)! Not only do I need to be more thoughtful in how I criticize a student's work, I need to be more thoughtful with how I question the student too.

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    1. Agreed! This chapter had me thinking back to what words I was using. There have been times I have walked away from a student and thought, how could I have suggested that differently to get better results/responses...

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    2. I agree with both of you. I am so guilty of using the word "revise" or "fix" instead of improve! This chapter made me thing of all the times I have told students to use a thesaurus to think of better words to use in their writing. Now I feel like I need to use a thesaurus to find better words in my teaching!! I think this also has to be considered when working with teachers at giving feedback how to improve their classroom.

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    3. I love the word improve instead of fix. It made me stop and think about how changing a word can make such a difference. I will work to use many of the ideas from this chapter in my classroom. It will take some time to change the mindset but it's worth trying.

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  16. As many teachers have posted and I also agree...the love of the wording to "improve" rather than "fix" The type of wording we use can be so powerful to little minds! I also love how they take their idea and highlight the strengths and things that need to be worked on/improved. When the author talks about how failure sucks and related it to the adult way of thinking and comparing how adults want to succeed and so do kids. I think sometimes we tend to forget about how little minds work...and can lack empathy in their thinking. This really brought me back and couldn't help but to think of Dr. Seuss, "A Person is a Person no matter how small." Well...a thought is a thought no matter who it comes from! As adults we make mistakes and learn from them...so do kids. So when he says that mistakes lead to greatness...it is important to celebrate those mistakes. When I taught first grade and kinder in writer's workshop...I never allowed the kids to erase...I asked them to cross out what they were fixing...I told them it those corrections were important...it showed growth and learning!

    I found the paper feedback phases very interesting...I liked how it was kept short...those first quick thoughts are the most important ones. My favorite part of the revision stages was #2 Help students become better critics. When they were asked to state 2 things they liked and one thing to improve on/change. This also linked me to something I still do at home and at school...kind of off topic. But each time a child would put another down...they had to say 2 positive things about that child. Or when I would do conferences with kids or parents I would always lead with 2 things that the child was wonderful at and 1 thing they could improve on or work towards. I find it so important to pull out the greatness of things and then follow with something that needs "tweeking" It seems to me with positive feedback they are more willing to listen to the "work on" part.

    Mt. Vernon school...The activities that were student directed and led..WOW!! I LOVE, LOVE when Bo Adams states, "If school is meant to prepare people for real life, then why doesn't school look like real life?" That is so profound and true! I love that his school worked with the CDC and connected kiddos to that real world learning...I think more schools should try and travel that road. I have always thought about the multiple choice tests, and how technology has taken over at many schools and homes (t.v., video games, tablets...etc)...and so many kids are beginning to lack social skills...and this is something they need in "Real Life" They need these for interviews, conversations, and so much more!

    I really enjoyed this chapter!

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    1. I love your practice of 2 positive things and 1 "improvement" point when doing parent/teacher conferences! I think it's so important to make sure that student's feel successful first. Then, we can work on what needs improving. I also think this helps to create a positive dynamic between the teacher and parent, which is also very important.

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  17. In the art room I am constantly going around the room and discussing options with students about their work. Highlighting areas that are working out well and pointing out areas that need improving. After reading this chapter, it made me stop and think about some of the times I am pointing out things that need improving. I had a bit of discomfort when I thought back to how I was wording my suggestions to my students. I don’t necessarily use the word “fix” when discussing things but have used other words that have me rethinking things now. I want my students to be okay with making mistakes and realizing when something needs to be “fixed” on their own. I am going to make it a point to be aware of how I make my suggestions and what words to use thanks to this chapter.
    There are times that students seek out peer feedback before they come to me. We also hold peer critiques every other week on sketchbook assignments. Again, this chapter has made me rethink, I might try holding peer critiques on the current projects mid way through the process. I think that this could be extremely beneficial for my students.

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  18. I like using the word "improve" over "fix". Students who are leaning I think, especially the younger they are, are so vulnerable to words. Making sure the students know that we like their idea and that we believe in them and believe they can make it better is critical. IF it truly is a bad/unrealistic idea, the students will eventually figure it our on their own when they realize they have tried every avenue and cannot improve on it. So there's that we don't have to worry about so much.

    The Presbyterian school sounds like they do an amazing job with connecting real life to school. After all, we ALL think at one point "what is the point of school if it doesn't help me in the real world or help me get a job?". Recently I attended a two day workshop for PGP where teachers from a school near West Lafayette talked about how they sit down with their students and talk about the future. What do you want to do when you're an adult and why? How much do you think you will earn as an income? How much income do you think you need to live? etc etc Later they sit down with students and give them real life examples and numbers. IF you want to do X, you will make $15,0000. But with the monthly expenses of insurance, rent, food, gas, etc you will actually spend $25,000. And then they help students begin to think about how important picking a career early and understanding finance and what they need to make as an income in order to be self-sufficient. They start this process in middle school and help them all the way through high school. So brilliant. I wish someone had spent the time to sit down with me and teach me about careers and money. My mom never did and MANY other students don't have parents that think about it either!

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  19. I liked that there were examples and an outline of sorts for the students to follow when peer talking. The outline would definitely aid some of my students who like to know what they are suppose to do and to stay on topic during each part. Working with others helps to get a new perspective on any work they have been doing. The time limits I think would help certain students stay on task and gain insightful feedback from their peers. I could also see how on certain projects more time could be needed. The story from Mount Vernon Presbyterian School was very inspiring. I liked that there was some teacher guidance but the majority of the projects seem to come from the students. The questions they asked and the research they did was important to them and it made it relevant. I've always wonder why in school we didn't really have a class to learn about doing taxes, finding a good credit card, how to change a flat tire, and other real world problems that I still to this day struggle with solving. Luckily we have google to look up on but I would have loved to have a class where I got to learn about it with hands on experience like the students did at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School working with the CDC. I think that experience is invaluable and will stick with the students for life.

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  20. Besides the idea of "improving" vs "fixing," what stood out to me from this chapter was the example that the author gave of working with his son to create a Rube Goldberg machine...and how they tried and tried and tried ten more times to make the agonizing adjustments. "Suddenly, he snapped his fingers and adjusted the top pipe." I love this moment of discovery and success! This, even after multiple tries and not failures, but adjustments!

    Comparing this process to school is what really struck home: "At home, he was able to move incrementally toward his goal. He had the absolute permission to make mistakes. No threat of a bad grade overshadowed him. No rigid curriculum maps or deadlines held him to a schedule. We had all the time in the world for him to make tiny adjustments until he finished the task." What freedom! I think that is something with which we can all relate. I found myself wishing we could incorporate this idea in school more...but I also realized that life is often like that. Unless you work for Disney Pixar (and what a great model) that allows their employees to work at something until it is "right" with no deadlines, life is filled with deadlines and late fees. I think a happy balance of the two would be great...projects with deadlines and projects with more freedom to work at it until one gets it right.

    I thought of how I've moved to allowing students to correct (or improve) any assignment, paper or even test given in my class. The thought struck me as I progressed through teaching that a paper or a test should not be the end; it should be a chance to see what was done well, and what can be improved. I always offer the idea of improving a test or paper or assignment that's been turned in to me and I usually get an 80% return rate..which at least feels a bit more student-centered and initiated.

    Perhaps I could apply the 20 minute peer feedback to papers and assignments? In the past I've shied away from peer editing for various reasons. Perhaps giving it a shorter amount of time with specific goals to reach would be quite effective. It's something to try, at least.

    Just a side not about the idea represented in Bo Adams' quote, "If school is meant to prepare people for real life, then why doesn't a school look like real life." I've read several comments from others about the desire for more "real life" classes like how to buy a house, deal with a credit card, change a tire, etc. I am pleased that our school is currently developing such a class with the help of some teachers and counselors. We are looking into offering a class that presents such "real life" objectives like how to take care of personal finances, personal lives, fixing basic problems in the home or automobile, how to give back and truly take care of one's self. I think this class would be a great place to implement a lot of student-centered design thinking and creating. I would love to hear from anyone whose school has a similar class and what is being taught including what was particularly successful.

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  21. The item that stood out the most to me, is the idea of improving, rather than fixing. From such a young age, when teachers tell you to revise something, I have been conditioned to fix it in some way, but if you change your way of thinking to improving what you already have, it's almost like you don’t have to start all over again. I also liked the quote about failing, “if you are not failing, you are not innovating”. Rome wasn't built in a day, and most impressive inventions took many trials and errors to make them perfect. I think this is a lesson all students need to learn.
    I really liked how the authors highlighted examples of how we already help our students by revising, such as rubrics and pro/con lists. I also, enjoyed reading about peer editing phases. If peer editing phases were taught at a younger age, teachers would have much more time, in my opinion, to work with individual students 1:1 with needs that need to be met.

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  22. I liked this chapter a lot. Not only did it give me feedback of how to help our kids improve, but it gave us ways to improve the process of how we do it. I liked the ideas of timing the process. I also liked the rotation and the spelled out directions. Throughout the book there have been lots of processes given and multiple steps. All of the chapters have made sense and at times also left me wondering if it could really work with all age groups. However, as I read this chapter, there was not a doubt in my mind that this could work from grade K through 12 with the right direction from a teacher.

    I like the idea of students learning and growing from one another. I also like the process of constructive feedback and today's youth don't always learn to do this properly. I think at a time where we hear about too much teasing and bullying, it is important that students learn how to give proper feedback and also learn how to receive information in order to improve. I think the processes in this chapter can teach lifelong skills.

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  23. The part that stuck out to me while reading was when the author was taking about the typical revision style being teacher-oriented. If students were able to get feedback and hear ideas from peers without the fear of a failing a grade I would think that would give them more confidence to take risks and give better work. A poster mentioned how important it is for students to be able to give and receive feedback properly and I couldn't agree more. At the middle school level I sometimes expect my students to be able to do or understand more than they do. Using the launch cycle in the classroom would be a great time for their to learn how to give and receive feedback and carry that with them into the future.

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    1. I completely agree that students can learn more from the feedback of their peers versus feedback from the teacher. It also helps students learn how to constructively criticize someone's work. I think this teaches students important life lessons for the real world. They will enter the work force prepared to accept criticism and improve based on that criticism.

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  24. "Group think is a danger for any team".....I have never thought about it in this way. This was a lightbulb moment for me. After 20 years of dealing with middle schoolers, I guess I have been so conditioned to their fear of standing out, that I failed to think about how to reduce the group think phenomenon. The first round of questioning forces everyone to share, without judgement. This will reduce the fears of those wall flowers, who do not usually speak in class. Great ideas will stand out, and less great ideas may get filtered out, or be improved upon after this process. Helping students to become better critics must be one of the most important by products of the entire highlight and improve aspect.

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  25. While I agree with everyone else about choosing the wording of improve over fix, the section that stood out to me the most was about the design process:
    "In design thinking, we want kids to embrace mistakes as part of the learning process. Kids begin the project knowing they won't get it right on the first try ...they understand that each mistake is a chance to figure out what works and what doesn't ... when students have permission to make mistakes, they define success as growth and learning ... they recognize failure isn't really failure at all ... they become less risk averse ... they try new things ... before reaching the desired outcome." ( p. 175).
    This section of text made me realize that the adaptation to each failure is similar to a new prototype; the book calls it an iteration. Revisions are considered opportunities which require constructive feedback in order to make progress.

    I like the suggestions on pages 179 and 180; however, I am absolutely enthralled by the 20 minute peer feedback process. What an excellent way to develop discourse about projects and their ensuing subject matter! I am ready to use this idea with my students on their small and large projects.

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  26. The interesting thought to me was that the creative process or improving process on the project is not limited. That improving upon a project for success may take and probably will take time to perfect the process. Thinking and rethinking are important and part of the process. Also it is not about being criticized and given a specific amount of time to fix, but about evaluating the process and improving no matter what it takes if the project is truly worth the effort and will provide a meaningful outcome.
    I believe that having peer review or a partner review is a good way to restimulate the thought process and boost innovation for the group.

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    1. Yes, the creative process taking time I totally get. I like the idea of thinking and rethinking to improve a project and that it can take quite a bit of time. I wonder how we as educators can allow ourselves to offer that much time to our students when working on projects? How do we get everything else done that is required of us?

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  27. I recently read an article about Pixar where all feedback is given in a "I wonder if" framework, and I think it really matched with the "improve" vs "fix" mind frame of the book. I think that is so powerful to share with students...I wonder if doesn't have the negative association that fix or wrong do, and it requires the students to think or even push back.

    Feedback is one of the most important things we provide our students, so I wonder if more than 20 minutes would be beneficial!

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    1. We have to be careful during the feedback portion and observe the time so that the students don't try and state the same idea just in different ways. If they have too much time they repeat themselves.

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  28. Okay, so first of all what stood out to me the most is when they mentioned how a student turns in a piece of work or project and the teacher "gets out the dreaded red pen!" I thought this was so funny and true, and how as teachers' we are doing most of the correcting/fixing, and students should truly be the ones to make the improvements/changes instead.

    I also enjoyed reading the examples of what the Mount Vernon schools were doing collectively. I loved how they made a competition/game out of recycling, and how they saw a drastic increase on how many people were now thinking about recycling. As a P.E. teacher I think competition/sports is a huge motivator as long as everyone is participating and engaging.

    I also, like other teachers', like the peer feedback (20 minute) phase. I could see how this would be beneficial to all students, and instead of having the teacher be the one to provide the feedback the students are engaging with each other. I think this would be a good social experience as well for middle schoolers to get outside of their friends groups and meet new people, get new ideas, and maybe also get suggestions/ideas that the class teacher would have never thought of.

    I think this made me think about submissions on projects and assignments, and how teachers' provide due dates and then after that no changes can be made to the assignment. Providing more time for "improvements" and allowing these revisions, and then submitting the finished products might allow for more developed projects and better results/scores for the student. Constantly revising, editing, and making improvements will lead to better finished products. I think this is something that made me stop and think for a bit, and I would like to try and use some of these ideas/concepts.

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    1. Danielle, I could not agree more with you about the red pen! I too, have been guilty of doing most of the correcting and editing for my students, but you, along with the authors, make a good point in saying that students need to be guiding their own learning and developing these analysis, feedback, and improvement skills because no matter what they decide to do later on in life, they will have obstacles or set backs along the way and need to recognize how to ask the questions and develop the solutions to conquer these obstacles. I also teach middle school and agree that the 20 minute feedback model provides a great opportunity for social development and classroom community building. In addition, I think it sets more structure and encourages more efficiency than the traditional checklist model I have students currently do when they provide feedback to their peers.

      Good point about allowing time after a due date for reflection. I like that you mention this because you are very right, students would probably take more pride in their project if they were given time to reflect, would develop a better sense of understanding that it is ok to have room for improvement, and this would probably also encourage better products down the road!

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    2. Thank you for your feedback :) :)

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  29. I do like the idea of using a positive over a less-positive...when I first began reporting on student progress for students with special needs, we were asked to report on student "strengths and weaknesses"; now I report on "strengths and challenges"; such a difference in connotation.

    When a student misses 9 out of 10 questions on anything, the student will see a +1 as the grade. Although both grades are the same, the practice of focusing on what we got right, or the positive, has a tendency to become the mindset of choice in many other areas of our lives.

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    1. I totally agree with you Kathleen. Just a few changes of words or grade marks can make a big difference on how a student perceives themselves.

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  30. What stood out to me is the use of the word 'improve' rather than 'fix'. I agree that the use of improve is more of a positive twist. The student may realize that they do have a good idea it just needs to be made better.
    I still wonder how to encourage students that struggle with making mistakes (I suppose we all do). With different personalities, I could picture some of my students wanting to give up when they try something and it doesn't work. How do we encourage perseverance?
    I appreciated one of the last statements concerning instead of teaching we should have learning be the primary focus of conversations.

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  31. I really liked some of the quotes incorporated into this chapter, in particular the quote “if school is made to prepare people for real life, then why doesn’t it look like real life” by Bo Adams. So many times in school, I see students are so afraid of failing and revising their work because that means, in their eyes, that they’ve done something wrong, the teacher will be upset with them, or that they are “stupid”. However, much like this chapter acknowledges, failure is a valuable part of the learning process and we need to celebrate these “failures” as opportunities to improve. As teachers we constantly scrap and tweak lessons- we need to let our students do the same! I have recently been reading about Growth Mindset and its powerful influence in the classroom and this chapter mirrors many of the same concepts. Growth Mindset advocates the improving, highlighting, and revision process echoed throughout this chapter, which was very reassuring to see! When students don’t ace a test in my class, I give them a chance to “improve” not “fix”, like the authors said, their test. I’ve noticed they take so much more pride in their improved test because they took the time to revise and adjust their understandings. Yet, I have not quite incorporated this into projects. This chapter really opened my eyes to the idea of revising work and celebrating the process rather than the product in a project. Students have peer reviewed slides for presentations or even essays before submission in my class. This usually involves picking partner, and going through a checklist I have created for them. This has definitely proven helpful for the students and given them the chance to provide feedback to their peers. However, I really like the 20 minute pitch feedback process described in the text. This model not only allows students to gain better speaking skills and comfort speaking (as they present to their peers multiple times in this model, which lends to presentation type end projects, but this model also caught my attention because it teaches students to listen attentively and ask questions based on their listening. Too often in schools teachers are the ones asking the questions, and students are just trying to answer those questions. I think this model teaches students to gain comfort in asking questions and making sense of the information given to them in those answers in a different way than the traditional teacher-student question format. Furthermore, I like the idea that the students are working with a peer to do this. It is imperative that students develop their communication skills and I believe the first way to do this is to help them gain comfort in talking with their peers. Moreover, I like the “Feedback” and “Paraphrase” phases of this improvement model as well because students take notes as they listen and provide their own feedback to the students, not feedback based off of a list that I as a teacher may have provided for them. This is very student driven and student oriented, and I cannot wait to use this model in my next unit when students present project over famous inventions in world history! I wish this feedback model would have been on my radar months ago! I think the fact that the students are providing detailed feedback to their peers on notes they have taken and presented also will help boost the sense of community in the classroom. The students worked together, provided their own feedback to one another, and will probably feel proud of their peers when it comes to the LAUNCH phase because they too played a role in creating the wonderful end product. Furthermore, I like this chapter because it shows students that pride can be found in the “mistakes” we make. I have many students who don’t see themselves as successful students or superstars-I think the attitude of this chapter, in focusing on improvement, not first time perfection, will help foster a greater sense of pride for these students.

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  32. I like the idea of using a rubric or checklist to let the students know what their project is missing. I like this idea because usually we use those tools after the fact, and by that time the project is finished with or without all the necessary parts. I think the checklist will feel more at ease with not getting everything correct, because they now know what they need to know. I think that the 20- minute peer feedback idea may work with alot of students, but I know that would be very difficult for my kids since I'm a special education teacher. Even with a detailed checklist, I feel as if my students would struggle with critiquing other projects.

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    1. Allena I too really love the idea of the rubric for the students to use as a check list to know what their project may be missing. In alternative education I feel my students are just rushing through to just be done and not always embracing the journey. I feel this would be my challenge to help them take more time to truly revise.

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  33. As a kindergarten teacher, this part of the process is uncomfortable for me and maybe most often skipped. Changing the wording to improve instead of "fixing" will be key because they are so eager to please and to "get it right." It is very difficult for them to look at work critically and especially to see what needs to be improve in their own work. I think that lots of teacher modeling of this part of the process is key. Maybe taking a product from a student outside the classroom and practicing "Improvement" highlighting before trying it on our own projects might be a good way to ease into this stage. I also think that adding picture cues to the rubrics and checklist will help them navigate it more independently.

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  34. The emphasis on improving the original product resonates with me. As a teacher of writing,I always try to emphasize that writing/creating is never finished. That everything can always be improved is so hard to get across in a meaningful way to many students. They often have that "one and done" mentality, so getting them to make meaningful changes can be difficult. For me, peer feedback is critical, although educating students to give meaningful critique is very time consuming.

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  35. Like others have said I really love the terminology of improving rather than fixing. I think that this is a super important element of students creating and performances based activities because it allows for students to be the force behind finding new ways to do things instead of teachers telling them how to do it. I think that the reflection piece is important for students on many levels, one namely being that they will always be performing that task when they are adults in the "real world." I think giving them that exposure early is important.

    I really like a good peer review along with personal assessment. I've found that it's necessary, unfortunately, that the guidelines must be very specific and laid out just right for most students or they will always respond with "great" or "I liked it." I wish they'd be able to be more personal and think more out of the box, but I think that would come with age.

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    1. I like when you say that its the students who are the force behind finding new ways to do things instead of teachers. that is so true, and we have to give students more opportunities to be the FORCE!

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  36. This chapter made me reflect on how I personally view revisions. Like the authors said, I have seen revising things as improving them to meet expectations and fixing the mistakes. I think the authors gave some great advice for me to use in the classroom. Something as simple as using "improve" instead of "fix," could change the way students perceive revising their work.

    I was amazed by the Mount Vernon story! Students noticing the lack of recycling in their school turned into a valuable experience for the students, school, and environment. I am going to research the school more to learn about their journey to get where they are educationally today.

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  37. What stands out to me:
    “Embrace the journey!” “Regardless of the outcome, the journey offers you and your students the chance to grow…”
    I have a necklace with a ship at sea, and to me it represents that we’re all on a journey. As a student of Spanish it has been a long and crazy ride to get me where I am today. I often share anecdotes to my students in my Spanish classes about my journey, and phrase it in such a way to make them understand that we are all on this journey and I have just been travelling longer. For example, I empathize with difficulties as a Gringa trying to roll my Rs. It took me 6 years of practice to finally make that sound! (Many are relieved to hear this.) Because I’m farther along in the journey, I can offer them advice of how to learn this language, what worked better for me when I was starting, what I did (and do) to practice and continue to improve.
    I want my classroom to be a safe place to fail spectacularly and then revise. I accept revisions always! And when a student is doing something out loud and makes a mistake, I praise them when they do a “take 2” and revise what was said. When they catch themselves, I say, “Nice catch!” I agree that “When you create a safe place for your students to face their fears, you’re allowing them the opportunity to develop something much more valuable and lasting than a simple product: character.”

    The Power of Pivoting - Pixar’s model of doing whatever it takes, which often requires more time and freedom. I like the idea of being able to work on something and having the freedom to change it and work with it and do whatever it takes in order to make something good, even if what it takes is more time. I dream of a world where education has the time to do whatever it takes, and not be encumbered by rigid ideas and deadlines. It seems that the environment Pixar created lends itself to making something and working with it and revising until making it great.

    Checklist of features or list of criteria
    I think it would be fantastic to have students make their own feedback by using a checklist. I like the idea of students using this feedback to make their own improvements, and avoiding the “dreaded red pen” syndrome.
    I like that the Peer-Feedback Phases chart has the process very spelled out. Students will need this sort of structure to get started in the process, and I think there would be less “uh.. So what do we do?”

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  38. I really liked this chapter. I think revision is the hardest part for my students....maybe for everyone. No one likes to think about the downfalls of something they have put work into, right? Looking at highlighting and improving is so much better than fixing! I love the notion of the short peer feedback phases. It is very well planned out and will help our students' to listen and discuss for years ahead. What an important skill in all aspects of life!

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  39. I like that the chapter focuses on the positive aspects of revising to improve the product. My favorite part of the chapter is when it talks about understanding that each mistake is a chance to figure out what works and what doesn't. It reminds me of how Thomas Edison stated that he had not failed 99 times to make the light bulb, but that he figured out 99 way how not to make a light bulb. Thomas Edison understood the revising process! Its wonderful that the students have the permission to make mistakes and the freedom to figure out how to make the product work on their own. The book talks about how great products don't just happen on the first try. even a genius has to try more than once to make a perfect product.
    The book talks about embracing the journey. I find this difficult at times. I often focus more on hurrying up and getting to the destination. I think I would have difficulties the first few go- arounds of the process before I started to enjoy the journey more. Enjoying the journey takes practice.

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    1. I also appreciate the positive methods suggested for revising the products. Recently, my students did their first video project in my health class. We are working on our second project, so I am allowing more time for feedback, and I intend to have them make revisions so that the final product is better than their first attempt.

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  40. I like the chapter and how the focus is on improving! The 20 minute peer feedback keeps things moving along and also gives a fresh perspective that might be needed. I think I can put this to use for projects in my classes. I love the Mt. Vernon approach and think they can be inspirational for other schools to make this their mission statement. I am not sure how you get everyone on board but this chapter has helped me think about how I can begin the process in my classroom. I liked the quote "If school is meant to prepare people for real life, than why doesn't school look like real life?" I teach life skills and I want my classroom to look like real life and that will involve trying the launch cycle and be supportive for my students as they explore, create, improve and then help them as they get ready to launch. This is what learning is and what life is about.

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  41. This was another great chapter. I have found this book to be very incouraging! I like feel some of the things I do as a teacher that I typically overlook because I have always done them keep coming up. I also love the positive ways this book brings things up. Improve vs fix was another great example of this. I can't wait for the last chapter!

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    1. So totally agree. It has been very encouraging and a very positive book. Shows that as teachers we can always learn new things.

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  42. The part that stood out to me about the Highlighting and Improving was the simple use of terminology that makes all the difference to the student.For example, going through the mini-cycle of highlighting the strengths and weaknesses by using "improve" verses "fix". Just using that one word makes such a profound difference to what a child is hearing us say to them. I agree with the part that when our students have given so much time and effort to a project that they have an emotional charge from the end result. I really liked the info on P.179-180 about using a checklist for student awareness to what may be some troubled areas. I also thought the idea of entrepreneurship with the Mount Vernon Presbyterian School madea perfect sense. The students appling the findings for every day life and putting them to work in their school, and why not.

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  43. There is a lot of truth in this statement from the author, "In reality, we stumble our way into greatness." It reminds me of the saying, Practice makes perfect. Making many mistakes can lead to fear of failure.
    I hope I am creating a safe place in my classroom to allow my students to face their fears. I often say, "Try your best and if you still don't succeed try, try, try again." I tell my students if they still don't get it right, at least they tried and that's what matters to me, but eventually you will succeed. For instance, tying our shoes is something we work on a lot in Kindergarten and experience a lot of mistakes.

    I liked the 20-minute peer feedback process. It is very structured and allows students to get constructive feedback in a non-threatening way. I like how during the second round only questions and answers are aloud, no feedback. This will allow for clarification that might have been an issue during the 'elevator pitch.'

    I love the question asked by the students at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School,
    'If school is meant to prepare people for real life, then why doesn't school look like real life?' This makes a lot of sense. Wow...this even prompted the creation of a new diploma at Sandy Springs school. I would be really interested in seeing these students, the students who earned this diploma, in action today to see if they are succeeding in real life.

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  44. Wow! Comparing this stuff to Pixar and Disney was powerful to me! Who isn't more creative than that??? I love the philosophy of "Embracing mistakes"! When children learn to embace their mistkes they are so less risk adverse!!! I love the part about not worrrying about fixing your mistakes but it is about making it better! It sadi this is crucial and critical!! My biggest concern is always time! There is never enough time in the school day to allow for ths free thinking. It frustrates me so much! As a 5th grade teacher, we switch periods every 15 minutes and I cannot follow through with what I want. This is where I need help an guidance. Ont he ideas of Mt. Vernon....Yes to Inquiry, Impact, Innovation!! But again.....how do I do thi sin 50 minute periods? I really miss the old days of elementary age kids being with the same teacher all day every day! We have gone away from theat and it is so hard for me to make the needed connectins in their learning.

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  45. I appreciate the "TIME" to make mistakes. Making mistakes is time consuming however. It is often easier to take short cuts to reach an end. Short cuts aren't always as rewarding. We may miss some wonderful and helpful changes by putting more effort into it. Deadlines often creatively destructive a masterpiece. I think of some of the paintings I have seen where artists have taken 20 years to complete. How thorough and detailed the painting are! If there is some way to allow enough time to make the mistakes and learn from them and still complete the curriculum necessary- this would be an awesome world.

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  46. The revision phase of any project is not always fun, and kids can really get bogged down in it. I liked the examples on pages 179-180, especially the idea of comparing and contrasting using kid-friendly charts and checklists. This seems like a more productive and engaging way to get through the “improvement” process.
    I am skeptical about the success of the 20-minute peer feedback process. Maybe it’s because of the level of students I am used to working with, but I don’t think it’s that simple to have kids answer/ask “clarifying” questions, “paraphrase” what they have heard, take notes, AND provide feedback in 20 minutes!?
    Inquiry, Impact, Innovation---powerful words indeed. And though I applaud the success/effort that the Mount Vernon School has achieved, and agree with Bo Adams statement, I can't help but wonder how we can fit in more “real life” projects in a public school classroom while still meeting the demands of teaching standards/core subjects.

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    1. I agree with you. I would really like my classroom to be like the real world, but there are so many constraints on public schools that make this very challenging. I feel like I would need extra time to successfully carry out LAUNCH projects, and I am not sure where to get that time from.

      I am hoping that maybe the work would be so exciting that it would make my students more productive in class to where I could fit my 5 days of lessons into 4, so I would have 20% time or Genius hour each week. I am overwhelmed with trying to figure out the logistics.

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  47. You need to improve rather than fix your work. This really stuck out to me in this chapter. As I read about it I thought about times I have written something and the feedback was a bunch of marks on the page. I felt horrible about my writing and work. This is a great idea to get children to feel better about improving their work. I think I would have liked being taught this way myself, I would have felt better about my work and just didn't think it was a bunch of mistakes. I definitely want this for my students. I want them to be part of the revision process and understand that they are improving their work to make it better. I love the work happening at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School. They let their students work on a project to answer their own question about recycling. I think students would take better ownership of a problem they are concerned about. Letting the children answer their own questions and things that are important to them is more like real life. I think doing projects like this will help children learn the way to think and handle real life situations. They will know how to answer questions and to improve things going on in their life. I do like the different rubrics and checklists to help with the highlighting process. I think that would help children learn how to highlight and what to look for by giving them a list or rubric to go by. Eventually they could probably do the highlighting without a list after doing different projects and practicing the Launch steps.

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  48. I am a person who wants feedback on my work. I want to know how I can improve it. When I think of my own work I tend to think in terms of improving it, but when it comes to students work the word "fix" comes to mind. If you think about the two terms, fixing something means there is something wrong with it and improving something means making it better. One is negative and the other positive.

    "If the school is suppose to prepare you for real life, then why doesn't school look like real life?" This question makes perfect sense. We want our students to learn so that they can function in the real world, but we don't do worksheets and lecture in most real world scenarios. I want to figure out how to make my classroom more like the real world.

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    1. I completely agree on making our classrooms look more like the real-world! I currently teach kindergarten and improving social skills is a bit part of this primary grade. I encourage free play, sharing, and interacting with one another. I suppose this is preparing my students for the real world. Students need to figure out how to work with different personalities because they will encounter different personalities all through out their lives.

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  49. Using rubrics is something that stood out to me. Students need to know what criteria their project should meet if they are to make improvements. I also agree that changing up the grouping can be very important. Students like to share with the people they are comfortable with, but new eyes may bring up ideas that they haven't thought of. When I assign projects, I do a lot of coaching to try to get students to reflect and come up with ways to improve their projects.

    I loved Bo Adam's perspective on making school look more like real life. In my second year of teaching I saw my first "Did you know?" video on YouTube and it blew me away. The point is-- We are preparing kids for jobs that do not yet exist! It got me thinking-- Are we effectively preparing kids? I think if you follow the LAUNCH process regularly, you would be preparing students. I think Mount Vernon is doing a great job of preparing students for real-life problems.

    https://teachingandlearninginhighered.org/2013/07/15/preparing-students-for-what-we-cant-prepare-them-for/

    I

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  50. As I continue to read each chapter I realize more and more I am doing many of these things in my classroom but not to the level I could or should be doing. The way I communicate can be much better and making some activities that students find "boring" much more engaging for the students. I like the section on the peer feedback process because it will engage all the students with different peers which I believe the students will start to feel more comfortable in class. In the section titled "Making Revisions Engaging" the first few sentences that struck me was "In other words, students only see it as something that is broken-as a sort of debt they have to pay to get the work up to par. A student turns in an assignment and a teacher tears it apart with the dreaded red pen." When I have kids revise I have them use different colors for different mistakes and I have stopped using a red pen as much too. I have made a note on the different ways to engage them in revisions. 1.Change up grouping 2.Help students become better critics 3.Emphasize all great products went through many changes 4. Break it up 5.) Create the right atmosphere (I like to take the students to our library because they can spread out and sit in different areas) 6. Devote more time to revisions 7. Use student Conferencing (I need to get back to doing this more) I have left many of these things out because I get to caught up in what all I need to get through in a year and for testing. I teach sixth grade language arts and only get my students for 50 minutes a day and teach Writing, reading, grammar, and spelling. After reading this book, If I change a few things and make different activities more engaging the students will "get it" and I can get through much more.

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  51. This chapter reminded me of one of my favorite quotes about writing: “I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter” (James Michener). I always share this with my students during the writing process. Without fail, whenever students come in with a rough draft for peer editing, they always feel the need to tell everyone how terrible they think their writing is because they are afraid of the feedback they are going to get.

    I do feel like I do a pretty good job with teacher and peer feedback for the writing process with modeling both writing ‘strengths’ and ‘areas for improvement.’ However, I absolutely LOVE how specific their 20 minute feedback process is. It’s an informal and less intimidating way for students to express their ideas and elaborate and explore them first without getting frustrated at critical feedback. I feel like it would inevitably lead to less fear in sharing their ideas and more freedom in their creativity.

    But my absolutely favorite part of this chapter was the story about the school in Mount Vernon: “If school is meant to prepare people for real life, then why doesn’t school look like real life?” How true this is! Taking what we do in the school and making it actually applicable to real life, seeing real results, and it all being student centered?! What an inspiring story! I love the idea of changing our thought process from ‘teachers teaching’ to the focus of true LEARNING.

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  52. You fix things that are broken. What a great idea to have students improve their ideas/work. Like the book said, it is a subtle difference but a powerful one. I will begin to use this terminology in my class and see what type of difference it will make. I bet it will be impressive. Another statement that struck me was "Critical feedback becomes just that: critical. And critical isn't bad. It's crucial. It's vital." Students have to realize that it's okay to make mistakes, and it's up to us as teachers to create that environment in our classrooms. Students have to believe that their mistakes are a part of the process. They need to understand that we learn so much from making mistakes. Hopefully, by the end of the project, students will have grown into what the book calls "courageous heroes." I am excited to use many of these ideas from the book in my classroom. Unfortunately, it won't be until next year as we are wrapping up this year's classes soon. That does give me more time to plan and execute for next year. One of my questions/concerns is about the time factor. It was interesting to read about Pixar and their process of making many small incremental iterations and that there are no real deadlines with their projects/movies. I'm still trying to work that piece out in my head. In a school setting, how do we not give students deadlines? What they have done at Mt. Vernon seems incredible and very valuable to students' growth as people. I wonder if they are able to follow state standards at the same time they are involved in student-centered real-life learning.

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  53. Highlighting and improving is a difficult process. This is the scariest part of the launch cycle to me. I really liked the peer feedback phase on page 182. This is definitely something I would use when going through the launch cycle the first time.

    I love what they are doing at the Mount Vernon school. I agree that many times we limited our students because of our own personal views. I have always found that when you let kids struggle a little bit and solve a problem it turns out way better than I could have ever imagined.

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  54. In this chapter, I loved the peer feedback process. I love changing up groups when it is time to evaluate also. I have done this several times with my ASL classes. The students will sign their stories or song, or what ever is assigned, and their peers will evaluate. Letting them know what they need to improve on. Most of the time it is expression and body language, but sometimes they go into depth of what better words can be used.
    I have not tried this with the writing of their papers, but hope to incorporate this next year when they do several research papers.
    This chapter was a very good chapter for me, because I do have students who want feedback immediately on their papers, projects, etc, and I think using peer evaluations will help with that.

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  56. There were so many important points and great ideas in this chapter. The thing that most stood out for me was the quote, "If school is meant to prepare people for real life, then why doesn't a school look like real life." I don't see any of this going on in my or my son's school. However, I do know of a few schools that are beginning to implement classes that teach "everyday/life" skills, so I do have hope about this expanding to reach more schools. I also know of a few schools implementing career classes as part of the curriculum, which I think is a wonderful idea.

    I also loved the idea that there should be a continuous process of learning, even after the test. The "red pen" approach is so disheartening to most kids, does nothing for their self-esteem, and doesn't help the students to continue learning. I really liked the ideas of making revisions engaging. I think the students would continue to learn by implementing these ideas into the classroom.

    Lastly, I've always favored the term improve, rather than fix. Kids have such wonderful ideas, and then I see other teachers/parents/etc swoop in to "fix" something to make it better. I think it's so much more positive for the kids if they are included on "improving" their idea/project.

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  57. Elizabeth Stracener
    I appreciated the authors comments regarding that fact that this improving the product takes courage. Students become discouraged when their projects or products are being critiqued. I like the process of allowing students to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their product. The 20-minute peer feedback is a useful method of allowing the students to improve their product. Another statement that I think would be helpful to share with students is "It's a myth that great products are created by geniuses who get it right the first time." The "failures" during this process will allow the students to build resiliency if they are given useful feedback.

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  58. I think this chapter was filled with great insight and suggestions on how to keep students going in their projects. I usually conference with students as they work and when they have a completed project (noting the strengths and areas for improvement), but I like how this chapter helped put the ownness on the students. I use rubrics to grade projects, but after reading this chapter, I should really be emphasizing students use the rubric to check their progression. I also liked the suggestion to have examples for students to look at. I usually do this; however, I have had students in the past get so wrapped up in the examples, that they just end up copying them and not creating their own work. So for this, I was thinking of possibly showing them a variety of project examples (not specifically their own project) to show them the caliber of not just what I want but what is possible to create. I think this might get them thinking of what high-quality work can look like, and they can take that and create their own project.

    I love the 20-minute peer feedback process! We do an Industrial Revolution Newspaper project, which consists of a feedback and edit portion with various small groups of students. Usually it goes well, but there are always some students that either don't give the best feedback or who simply don't take the constructive criticism. I think using the 20 minute peer feedback process with all of its specificity will be great for our next project! I've been trying to implement more reflection in my classroom, not just for content, but for creation, process and work ethic, and I think this process would be a great way to continue that trend. This was my favorite chapter so far!

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  59. Using the word improve rather than fix sends a strong message to the students. We want to keep the student motivated and the idea of improving lets them know that the project is acceptable. When we ask them to fix the project it infer res that something is wrong. Improving allows room for creativity.

    Using a checklist is intriguing. In the Past I have used a rubric and can see now how that leads the students to complete the project all the same much the same as a cookie cutter. By using a checklist the students can make choices and this allows the project to be their own.

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    1. I've never though of using a checklist in my classroom before. I agree that rubrics can lead to every students' project looking the same. It does not encourage creativity or individuality in the classroom. It completely narrows down what the teacher wants and how the teacher wants it. A checklist is a great alternative.

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  60. What stuck out most for me in this chapter was the use of the words "improve" and "fix". I've never really thought of those words as having a positive or a negative impact on a student before. However, how many time have we criticized a student's work and given it back to them full of red marks insisting they need to "fix" it. That would surely discourage me and make me less likely to put my best effort into what I am doing. However, if we give back an assignment using constructive criticism, start by explaining what we liked the student did, and then encourage them to "improve" their assignment, the student walks away with a completely different attitude. They would be more likely to work harder and improve their assignment. I am going to make more of a conscious effort to use the word "improve" in my classroom.
    I am concerned how to use the 20 minute feedback process in my classroom. I currently teach kindergarten. My students do not sit in their seats for long before they start to get antsy. My students also do not take well to criticism. How can I promote constructive criticism in my classroom without my students feeling offended? I know it will take a lot of modeling and group work to succeed. I would love to hear how other kindergarten teachers are planning to use this model in their classroom!
    I love that the Mount Vernon Presbyterian School encourages real world learning with their students. We as educators are expected to prepare students for the real world; however, how can we do that if schools do not look or act like the real world at times? We should be promoting creativity, free thinking, and encouraging students to debate real world issues. I love that the school is very student led. I think students learn more through their own experiences versus someone lecturing.

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  61. In this chapter, I found that the highlighting idea really struck home to me! As a 3rd grade teacher, I feel as though I am continuously teaching/drilling my students to use their highlighters to FIND the evidence to the answer of questions. However, I worry that perhaps I push this too much? I don't want to steer students in not showing them multiple other ways to use a highlighter as a great tool. I do know the value in being able to see both the strengths and weaknesses in a product and believe that it does so with every day life. I try my best to prepare my students not only for the present, but also their future. I love the idea of the peer editing as I sometimes feel as though there just isn't enough time; if I emphasis it, I could see it truly being beneficial to each and every student.

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  62. I echo the comments and thoughts of many others - using the word "improve" instead of "fix" could make a big difference in the classroom. It is important for teachers (myself included!) to realize how a small change in language could have a powerful impact on students.

    The Mount Vernon Presbyterian School example of connecting school with real-life opportunities was Amazing! The statement from Bo Adams - "if school is meant to prepare people for real life, then why doesn't school look like real life" - was very thought-provoking. I did wonder, however, how the school is able to spend time on the activities that were mentioned and still fit in all of the required standards. Making school relevant to students should be a top priority. I worked in the insurance industry before transitioning into teaching high school math. I would love to create real-life applications in my math classes but struggle with time constraints.

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  63. I think the comment they made about being sure to use the word "improve," rather than "fix" is important. That whole mindset is important for our students. As teachers, it is important to work on keeping our students laboring without thinking about they have "screwed up."
    I particularly like the story John told at the beginning of the chapter about his son wanting to create the Rube Goldberg machine. They are right about school not resembling the real world in many ways. Though real jobs will give us deadlines, and you will be judged on how well you do, our employers don't treat us the way school does. It is important to structure our work in a way that keeps this in mind.
    To keep this in mind, I think I am going to incorporate a project where students are given a problem that real historical figures had to face. Students will then be tasked with developing their own solution to the same problem. During this project, I think will be a good time to implement that 20-minute feedback task they suggested. I really like that idea for avoiding tunnel vision. All too often, I fail to get my students thinking outside the box and improving beyond the bare minimum. I believe this particular form of feedback may be just the activity that will help them see things from a fresh perspective!

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  64. I like the suggestions in this chapter about having a more positive approach to the revision process. I think kids are definitely more willing to take risks and be more creative when they know they'll get more constructive and positive suggestions from others on their work. I like what they said on p.175, "When kids have permission to make mistakes, they define success as growth and learning.... They're more willing to try new things." So true! I also like the detailed suggestions with peer feedback. I like the breakdown of details and time in the chart for guidance as well. When I used peer conferencing during Writer's Workshop with my 4th/5th graders in years past, I felt like it was valuable, but could use more guidance and specifics. These suggestions would make that time more productive.
    I was impressed also by the activities that the students from the Presbyterian school did. Clearly, their values and mission come from the top. Their overall view was certainly key to how they approach learning as well. They made some great points on p.187 and 188 when they said school is meant to prepare students for real life, so it should include more opportunities to bridge real-life and school issues. This is so important in our schools today!
    I liked this chapter overall, and though it would be difficult to use it currently with my preschoolers, I can definitely create a more positive approach to having them make changes or improving work even at this young age.

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  65. Highlighting seems like such a second nature thing to adults that you wouldn't think about the kids not knowing how to do it. Also, reading from a computer screen or tablet makes it difficult to highlight main points and ideas. I like the ideas in the book about how to remedy this issue so that the kids can pull important information from the material and save it to short term or long term memory by using visual cues such as highlighting. I have also found that having kids up out of their chairs acting things out in skits or making models helps them to remember and refine information. Pneumonic devices have been of great help with "boring" material that must be stored this year. The peer review is a great idea to refine however, I have found this to contain a bit too much negative feedback for my kids that do not know how to process constructive criticism at the middle school level.

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  66. I loved the comments throughout chapter 9: Courage is a stepping sones of an epic journey. Creativity allows yourself to make mistakes. These are powerful sentences. I think it's important that the students know that it is ok to make mistakes. I mistakes. I will announce to my classroom that I have made a mistake. It may take me a day to fix, but when I do, I will be ready to share it with you. Sometimes the kids look at me with shock across their faces. Yes, I too make mistakes, and it is ok. I liked the motto for Mt. Vernon's school. Asking questions to gain more information to create a better, fine-tuned project is a great way to get the kids talking and completing awesome work. Questions can open a whole other side that was never thought of. Kids think of everything. They are so open and ready to share ideas with their peers. This brings me to the 20 minute group feedback. I love the idea. I love questions!

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  67. I really like the suggestion in this chapter to use the term improve instead of fix. I think it will help build students self-confidence by letting them know their idea or project is good enough it just needs tweeted here and there.
    I use peer review quit often in my classroom. I think students can really learn from each other. I like the highlight approach and will plan on incorporating it into our peer reviews.
    Hats off to Mt. Vernon!! What an inspiration!! It is a relief to see a school finally grabbing student-centered learning & making it happen.

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  68. I loved the section that gave specifics on how to improve the peer feedback process. As a former writing teacher, I felt as though I never found the perfect way to accomplish quality peer feedback as part of a writing seminar process. I was always trying something new to help support the students in giving thoughtful feedback. I also like that Spencer points out that this feedback process should be seen more often in all content areas.

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