peer feedback strategies for your classroom (1)

5 Fantastic Peer Feedback Strategies for Your Classroom

Today, Starr Sackstein @mssackstein shares 5 feedback strategies to supercharge your writing instruction and classroom culture.  We are also hosting a giveaway contest with her book on assessment.

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In today's show, Starr Sackstein discusses 5 peer review strategies for the classroom including:

  • Having a class culture for positive peer feedback
  • Setting expectations
  • Feedback protocols
  • How to help kids practice and give recognition for feedback
  • How to empower kids to be experts

I hope you enjoy this episode with Starr Sackstein!

Want to hear another episode on peer feedback? Listen to Jennifer Burin talk about secrets for teaching great writing in the classroom by using peer feedback.

Selected Links from this Episode

The Giveaway Contest for Starr's Book Peer Feedback in the Classroom: Empowering Students to be the Experts

Peer Feedback in the Classroom Book Giveaway

Some of the links are affiliate links.

Full Bio As Submitted

Starr SacksteinStarr Sackstein

Over 16 years ago, Starr Sackstein started her teaching career in Far Rockaway High School, eager to make a difference. Quickly learning to connect with students and develop rapport, she was able to recognize the most important part of teaching, relationships. Fostering relationships with students and peers, to encourage community growth and a deeper understanding of personal contribution through reflection, Sackstein has continued to elevate her students by putting them at the center of the learning.

Starr Sackstein currently works at Long Island City High School as a Teacher Center Teacher and ELA teacher. She spent nine years at World Journalism Preparatory School in Flushing, NY as a high school English and Journalism teacher where her students run a multi-media news outlet at In 2011, the Dow Jones News Fund honored Sackstein as a Special Recognition Adviser and 2012 Education Updated recognized her as an outstanding educator.

Currently Sackstein has thrown out grades, teaching students that learning isn’t about numbers, but about the development of skills and ability to articulate that growth.

In 2012, Sackstein tackled National Board Certification in an effort to reflect on her practice and grow as an educational English facilitator. After a year of closely looking at the her work with students, she achieved the honor. She is also a certified Master Journalism Educator through the Journalism Education Association (JEA). Sackstein also serves at the New York State Director to JEA to help serve advisers in New York better grow journalism programs.

Books Starr has authored:

She blogs on Education Week Teacher at “Work in Progress” where she discusses all aspects of being a teacher and education reform. Sackstein co-moderates #sunchat as well as contributes to #NYedChat. She has made the Bammy Awards finals for Secondary High School Educator in 2014 and for blogging in 2015. In speaking engagements, Sackstein speaks about blogging, journalism education, throwing out grades and BYOD, helping people see technology doesn’t have to be feared. Most recently, Sackstein was named one of ASCD’s Emerging leaders class of 2016, in addition to presenting a TedxTalk about throwing out grades.

Balancing a busy career of writing and teaching with being the mom to 10 year old Logan is a challenging adventure. Seeing the world through his eyes reminds her why education needs to change for every child.

Transcript for this episode

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Show Notes:

[Recording starts 0:00:00]

Hello remarkable teachers, I’ll let you know at the end of the show how you can get my list of my 200-plus favorite Ed tech tools and sign up for my bi-weekly newsletter.

Today we’re talking about five fantastic peer feedback strategies for your classroom. This is episode 85.

The Ten-minute Teacher podcast with Vicki Davis. Every week day you’ll learn powerful practical ways to be a more remarkable teacher today.

VICKI:   Today we’re talking with Starr Sackstein @mssackstein

about five fantastic ways to build peer feedback into your classroom. So Starr, how do we get started?

STARR:        Well, peer feedback really does take a whole cultural approach. Kids need to feel like they’re in a trusting environment. So the first really important thing if you want peer feedback to work in your classroom is developing a classroom culture of trust and of student participation where student voice really matters.

VICKI:          But that sounds so hard.

STARR:        I think that if we build relationships with students and foster relationships between peer while we’re doing it, it’s not as hard as it might sound.

VICKI:          And I know in my experience we have to extra vigilant at the beginning when we kick off peer feedback, don’t we? Because [that’s when we set the ground rules].

STARR:        100%. And I think it really does matter when we model expectations, which is the second really important thing, making sure that we are setting up protocols and we’re modeling the actual expectations that we have on a regular basis. And then also being really explicit about what we’re modeling so that kids don’t have to guess.


                    So if we’re teaching a class and we’re using a feedback technique that we may want them to use later, actually calling their attention to what you’re doing so that they could see you doing it and start to connect the behavior with what they’ll be doing later. So, it’s a great way to start bringing it into the classroom before we allow kids to do it with each other.

VICKI:          Can you give me an example? I know in my classroom I have the complement sandwich and it’s so funny when they use that and it’s like, “Oh yeah, you learned something about how I want you to treat one another.” Could you give me an example of yours?

STARR:        Sure, absolutely. So, as a writing teacher, when I want kids to give positive feedback to grow on what’s going I always tell them that you can’t just say good job. What I really want them to do is draw on the language of the standards, what about it made it a good job. So, I would model – like, I think you gave a really great answer when we were talking about Pride and Prejudice because you were able to use evidence from the text and also added some of your own thoughts. So really being explicit with what skill we’re working on and then explaining why.

VICKI:          So your first is building a classroom culture, second is modeling the feedback expectations and third is teaching students appropriate feedback protocols. So are expectations and protocols kind of intertwined in some way?

STARR:        Yes and no. I think the expectations on some level is just what it’s going to look like and the protocol is maybe how they’re going to do it. So maybe with kids you start with certain stem depending on how old your students are. Make sure that they really understand the skills that they’re giving feedbacks on and start small. You can’t give them a whole piece and say, “Give your peer feedback on this.” Really focus on very small pieces at first.


                    So if we’re looking at introductory paragraphs, for example, and we want students to really zero in on the effectiveness of a thesis section, let’s say. And we’ve done a whole lesson on what a thesis section can look and what strong ones look like and what weaker ones look like and how to improve those. One protocol might be making sure that they have a strong stem in place where they could talk about the effectiveness of the thesis wand just being really clear about what the expectation is around it. So they’re using the protocol to meet the expectation.

VICKI:          Love that. What’s our fourth?

STARR:        The fourth one is allow students to practice giving feedback and then give them feedback on the feedback that they’re giving so that they know if they’re doing a good job in providing it. Because a lot of times when you’re doing peer feedback in the classroom you’ll notice that two or three kids end up becoming really good at it and then a lot of kids get lazy – at least that’s my experience at the high school level.

So it’s really important that kids know that you’re looking at the feedback that they’re providing and that you’re giving them feedback on that feedback. Because it’s really a learned skill, I don’t think that we’re necessarily great at giving feedback just naturally, I think our inclination is to say it’s good or it’s bad but not really know how to put that action.

VICKI:          That is so true. And I know when I have my students do peer feedback I don’t let them just check on the rubric, you know, perfect at everything. And I’m like, okay, who’s perfect? If you’re self-evaluating or if you’re evaluating somebody else you just can’t just turn in a sheet that says everything was perfect because in that sense there’s no room for growth.

STARR:        Right. Exactly. So even I there was – if say once in a blue moon you do get a kid who’s really done an exceptional job, there’s still a level of feedback that you could comment on that’s very specific, not just from the rubric, it’s identifying pieces in the writing so the feedback giver has a special task of having to be able to identify those specific areas and highlight them and talk about what makes them effective.


                    And that’s also a good way to help other kids see what effective looks like.

VICKI:          And I love telling kids, okay, this is excellent, let’s take it to epic. Like, are there some ways to make this epic? There’s always conversations that you can have with those kids who need a way to make more than a 100. And sometimes the teacher’s attention gives them that. What’s our 5th?

STARR:        Our 5th and final is empowering students to be the experts. So once they have the protocols and once they’ve practiced, we really need to give them the opportunity to take the lead. I’ve had expert groups in my class where they work on skills in small groups and then before the student could come to me for feedback I expect them to go to their peers.

When you have a classroom of 24 kids and people always ask how could you effectively give feedback to all your students all the time. You can’t.  But if you have students who are trained to give really good feedback and we allow them the space to do so and we trust them to do so. It takes some of the onus off of us in those really tough times when more kids than we could help at any given time need the feedback.

VICKI:          And that makes is so important because I don’t know any teacher that doesn’t sometimes end up with more kids than they think they can handle. But we still want to be excellent, we still want to give back feedback. So teachers, you have some remarkable ideas for building a classroom where peer feedback really helps students thrive. Starr, do you want to tell us real quickly about what we’re going to be giving away for our giveaway contest for this show?

STARR:        So I have a copy of my latest book with ASCD, Peer Feedback in the Classroom: Empowering Students to be the Experts.  And I hope that if you guys follow me on Twitter you could get a copy of this book.  Have on to give away.


VICKI:          Cool. So check the show notes and use our giveaway widget to enter the contest and follow Starr. Thanks for listening.

Hello remarkable teachers, I have a bi-weekly newsletter just for you. You’ll get lesson plans, ideas and lots of freebies I don’t share anywhere else. You can sign up by text message if you’re here in the United States by texting COOLCAT to 444999 and you’ll be put on my email list. Now, if you’re not in the U.S., you can go to Now, when you sign up I have a super hand out of my 200-plus favorite Ed tech tools that you can download and start exploring.

Thank you for listening to the Ten-minute Teacher Podcast. You can download the show notes and see the archive at Never stop learning.

[End of Audio 0:09:06]


[Transcription created by Some additional editing has been done to add grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. Every attempt has been made to correct spelling. For permissions, please email]


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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Clint Heitz May 26, 2017 - 8:20 am

Good morning, Ladies! Thanks for the opportunity to learn together!

Tara Brown May 26, 2017 - 9:26 am

Awesome topic…great show! Thank you! Yes! It is so important to tell kids what they did “good” rather than just saying “good job!” I really appreciate all the helpful info from both of you….from your blogs to Twitter feeds…thank you for all your hard work!!

Vicki Davis June 1, 2017 - 7:29 am

Great point! Specific feedback is so important!

Kara Guiff June 1, 2017 - 10:33 am

Great ideas! Looking forward to implementing them and, hopefully, more I learn in the book (I hope to win)!

Michael June 1, 2017 - 11:58 am

I’m a Newhouse alum with a degree in newspaper journalism, and started my teaching career in Coney Island. Very much enjoy and appreciate Starr’s contributions to our profession.


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