by John Larmer
Editor in Chief
One of the Eight Essential Elements of Project Based Learning is Revision and Reflection. This important element enables learners to improve their work through the use of feedback from multiple sources – peers, teacher, and expert.
However, giving and receiving feedback from others can be tricky. It can take time, and the giver might not know how to frame his or her feedback, both in terms of content and tone. The receiver might take critical feedback personally, or be misled by feedback that is off-target in some way.
One way to avoid potential pitfalls and help ensure feedback is “kind, specific, and helpful” (to quote Ron Berger) is to use a protocol. One of our favorite feedback protocols is the Gallery Walk. The basic idea is to post pieces of work on a wall – as in an art gallery – so people can move around and look at it. In BIE’s “PBL 101” workshops, teachers use this protocol to give and collect feedback on their initial ideas for a project they’re designing. (Note: Gallery Walks are also sometimes used as a teaching tool in non-PBL contexts, to “jigsaw” the sharing of knowledge by students after they’ve read something or done research, or as a way for students to share ideas and generate discussion on a topic.)
Our version of a Gallery Walk protocol doesn't take much time; it provides a structure for critique; and it levels the playing field, since participants are both givers and receivers of feedback. To prepare for the Gallery Walk, participants create posters with these seven parts:
Below is the slide we use to give directions.
We’ve found that giving participants a specific focus (Significant Content, Driving Question, In-Depth Inquiry, or Public Audience) and some criteria on which to base their feedback (the Project Design Rubric) helps generate higher-quality feedback. In earlier versions, when we just asked people to “give feedback” many of the comments tended to be superficial (“good DQ!”) and some of the seven parts of the poster may not have been addressed.
As you can see in the directions, participants leave feedback on post-it notes, or they may write in a shared, designated area for each work display. The activity is done silently, to allow for quiet reflection time. When writing feedback, we ask people to write comments as an “I like…” statement or an “I wonder…” question. For example:
Hangout with BIE: An Introduction to the Gallery Walk
Charity Allen and John Larmer take us through the main components of a Gallery Walk. Learn about how you can use this tool within your school.