Using Feedly and RSS to Examine Student Work

You cannot support deep learning without evidence of knowledge growth. I am glad the Deep Learning MOOC uses this as a cornerstone belief. I am a writing teacher, but I am also a teacher of writing teachers. Therefore modeling how to examine student work is a critical component to my class.

I not only want to improve writers, I want to create a community of writers and teachers ready to cretae their own community of writers.

To accomplish this I use blogs an RSS Feed. Specifically I use and happliy endorse Feedly. This allows me to create a rol of my student blogs, displays new posts in a beautiful UI, and helps me track the feedback to students.

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By using an RSS reader I can look across student work and identify patterns. I can also leave students feedback on how to improve their writing by visiting their website and leaving comments.

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I try to couch my feedback within the social practices of effective blogging. Like all writing there are no steadfast rules but there are some general patterns to the text structure. For example, I noticed (this was our first two posts) that many bloggers just wrote one long paragraph.

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I also use the blogs and the feedback to students to set individual writing goals for my bloggers. I am not a fan of writing rubrics, well at least for formative assessment. Giving students a rubric with seven criterionand four scales of quality does not do much to improve writing. Students can’t make sense of 28 squares of feedback. Teachers can not use the data. his results in good writers scoring well and developing writers turn into struggling frustrated writers.

Instead I would rather look across a students feed, by using FEEDLY, to identify the specific criterion in a summative rubric that will help that student as a writer.

One area I need to improve upon with my bloggers is peer feedback. I do not require (yet… and not sure if I should) students to comment, let alone offer feedback, on each others post.

Overall I find classroom blogs a great way to examine student work.Cafeteria staff can rest easy.  Feedly and blogsvehas ended my era of milk crate grading. No longer do I need to lug home crates full of journals.

I also find Feedly to be a great tool. There pro features improve everyday and new features will roll out soon that educators will love. I had the pleasure of chatting with Arthur Bodolec @abrodo Feedly’s co-founder about new features. I am not sure if I can share so I will just say the enhanced features coming out will be a great addition for educators.

I know I am looking forward to future use with Feedly to help me and my writers examine student work.

Greg McVerry

Greg McVerry is a teacher, researcher and scholar at Southern Connecticut State University.

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