Building Critical Thinking and Writing Skills through Feedback, Revision, & Goal Setting

Prussing Elementary | Chicago Public Schools


Fast Facts

Prussing Elementary is a CPS School of Excellence, consistently earning Level 1 and Level 1+ rankings - some of the city’s highest designations. 70% of the student population qualifies for FRL and over 30% of students are English Language Learners.

Location: Serving the Jefferson Park community on Chicago’s Northwest Side.

Population: 756 students in grades Pre-K through 8.

  • Low Income: 73%

  • Diverse Learners: 13%

  • Limited English: 34%


The Goal

Prussing is a highly-rated CPS school and earned above average marks for student growth, student attainment, and school culture and climate during the 2016-17 school year. While they certainly have a lot to be proud of, Prussing administrators along with the instructional leadership team (ILT) are committed to the school’s continuous improvement. This is a growth mindset in action.

One of Prussing’s key growth goals is further improving student writing across content areas -- especially for their upper grade students (5-8). To achieve this goal, they chose to partner with The Graide Network, an ally in learning, to:

  1. Create fast, effective feedback loops in the classroom

  2. Enhance data-driven instruction and decision-making

  3. Foster student engagement and student-led learning

The Challenge

In the beginning of the 2017 school year, the Prussing ILT was busy evaluating a number of supplemental instructional programs and tools to support their work when they found The Graide Network. They were immediately intrigued. The platform was well-aligned to support what they aimed to accomplish and provided clear wins for their students and teachers. But, they had one overarching question: If someone else is reading and responding to my students’ work, how I will know what to do in class the next day? Isn’t this my job? How will this actually work?

The teachers decided to start with a small pilot. From the very first few assignments (including a 7th grade ELA narrative essay, a 7th grade social studies Continental Congress compare/contrast essay, and an 8th grade science lab report), the teachers were blown away. Rather then feeling removed, they had found a tool that elevated their instructional practice. Teachers loved digging into the detailed class and student data reports. It was an entirely new kind of performance analysis to help drive their lesson planning and instruction. And of course, it didn’t replace their traditional practice of reading and providing feedback themselves. Rather, it allowed them to do more for their students - more writing opportunities, more fast feedback, and more personalized, targeted support. 

We quickly realized The Graide Network gives us a platform to build from, not a crutch to lean on.
— Mr. Kadri, 7th Grade English

Graide Network Implementation

Prussing teachers leverage Graide Network support to achieve strategic goals.

With their initial concern overcome, the Graide Network pilot was rolled into a full partnership for ELA, social studies, and science teachers in grades 5 through 8. Over the past 18 months, Prussing teachers have leveraged Graiders to meaningfully increase writing opportunities for their students across the curriculum and dramatically accelerate the feedback loop. They have been able to accomplish other strategic goals as well, including:


Improve Data-Driven Instruction:

Before, analyzing data meant combing through stacks of essays and creating piles of papers by problem-area. Prussing teachers have reimagined this process. As Mr. Kadri explains:

“Now, The Graide Network creates digital piles for me - I can quickly see how my students are performing across various rubric components. I can see which students are struggling with organizing their writing, who needs help crafting a strong, focused thesis, or which kids are missing topic and transition sentences. I’m able to group students more effectively by areas of need and create targeted, personalized lesson plans and assignments for them.” 

Plus, The Graide Network enables teachers to track and analyze data over the course of the school year through a digital portfolio. As more assignments are completed, teachers can easily measure student and class-wide growth over time. Tracking and analyzing objective, student-focused, classroom-level data has been a big win.

Pro Teacher Tip: Use a consistent rubric combined with a third-party reader across assignments to increase reliability and transparency of what once were highly subjective grades.


Student-Led Learning & Student Conferencing

Students become partners in their own learning when they have a chance to see their own data, identify skills or standards that need development, create plans to address those gaps, and measure the results of their plan. This is the exact feedback loop that The Graide Network supports. After passing back feedback reports to students, Prussing teachers provide time in class for students to read and reflect on their feedback, either on their own or in small groups. They use the reports and pull exemplars to drive class-wide discussions (often student-led!), targeted small group exercises, and individual student reflection and revision.

The reports serve as an effective tool for student conferencing, too. Prussing teachers regularly schedule one-on-one meetings with students to walk through the report, address questions, and set goals that create attainable objectives for students to strive towards.

Personalized, narrative feedback helps even the lowest performing students feel more connected to, motivated by, and engaged with the revision process. The Graide Network provides an easy way to share individualized feedback which organizes the student’s thoughts in an actionable way to drive change.

The feedback model in Mr. Kadri’s classroom is especially thoughtful. Students follow a 3-step process:

    1. Read feedback independently and reflect. Students are encouraged to circle, underline, and highlight feedback that jumps out at them, jot down questions, and take notes.

    2. Set at least 2 quantifiable goals for the next assignment.

    3. Meet with your teacher to engage in a guided reflection of your writing and feedback (including inline comments) and talk about your goals.*

*This last step is a mandated, teacher-guided reflection of their writing and possibly the most important step.

Student-teacher conferencing, aided by detailed Graide Network reports

Student-teacher conferencing, aided by detailed Graide Network reports

Using the Graide Network report has allowed for more clear, direct conversations with my students - plus, they’re more motivated to revise their work. We can create goals and action plans together and be accountable for progress.
— Mr. Kadri
This is a great program. It helps with my writing which will help me get into my dream high school!!
— 6th Grade Student
Using feedback to set writing goals!

Using feedback to set writing goals!



Student Results

The Prussing community has a lot to be proud of, and their hard work is certainly paying off! With an increased focus on writing, analysis, and personalized student engagement, Prussing students in grades 5 through 8 greatly exceeded district and national averages on the NWEA MAP® standardized test in spring 2018.





Student Feedback

We’ve been thrilled to hear positive feedback from Prussing teachers, but we are even more excited to hear what Prussing students have to say! Here are the results of the student survey from spring 2018:

  • 74% of students reported enhanced metacognition -- that is, they better understood their own areas of strength and areas for growth as a result of their feedback

  • 73% of students believe the feedback helped them improve on future assignments

  • 91% of students want to keep working with a Graider in the future!