Increasing the reach of your comments on student work

Feedback is important – there are some ways we can allow feedback to reach more that one student. This also allows the comments to become a more “renewable” use of teacher time.

An open and collaborative classroom culture and skilful use of ICT can mean you get more “bang for bucks” for your investment of time in writing comments on student work. Lemov’s “Show Call” technique increases the reach of individual feedback to the whole class. While “Show Call” is usually used in class, it can be extended using technology.

Organise your students to submit work in Google docs. Comment on the work online. Share your comments with the whole class. This way more than one student benefits from your hard work.

Saving a good example of student work with your annotations for use in subsequent years makes a non renewable resource that would benefit one student into something that could benefit many students for many years.


This document was shared with the whole class so all students could benefit from the feedback given.

Non Renewable Teacher Energy

Sometimes you hear an explanation of something that reinforces what you have tacitly been doing.

In this debate Joe Kirby from Michaela talks about writing comments on student work. He talks about this practice as being a non renewable use of teacher time.

A teacher has a finite amount of time to invest during the week. They can invest time in any number of activities. These include preparing lessons, correcting work, writing comments on work, professional reading, attending professional learning, counselling students, contacting parents. There is never enough time in a teacher’s day to do all these things. A teacher’s life is a series of time based compromises. What will I invest the next 30 minutes of my time doing? There is always a choice and always more to be done than time available to do it. 

Writing comments on student work is a non renewable use of teacher time. It benefits one student probably once. Investing time in preparing lessons on the other hand is a renewable use of teacher time. Whatever you prepare will benefit many students and can be reused in subsequent years.

What will I spend time on now, preparation or correction?

Err on the side of preparation, especially if it is something that can be used many times over.

Preparing great learning activities is even better if your preparation can be used by others