Two stars and a wish is a popular method of feedback in my school, It has the advantage that everyone understands the system and it’s rightly weighted towards positive comments. But I have recently just listened to an episode of freakonomics radio, this got me thinking about whether I need to differentiate the amount of positive and negative comments that I give out. I’ve often thought that with some children I need to be frank, when their work just isn’t up to scratch and this is especially true of the more motivated children in my class. What this episode gave me was a scientific structure for thinking about when this is appropriate. When a child is not committed to a task they need to hear more positive comments than negative. I’ve often heard that 10 -1 is a good starting point. But if someone is already committed to a task, it pays off to give them greater negative feedback, this will have the greatest effect on getting them to improve. I think children always need to hear plenty of positives, but maybe I shouldn’t always flatly give out two stars and a wish. For a child unmotivated by writing maybe 3 stars would be more appropriate and for the child who loves writing, but is not producing quality maybe the ratio should be one star and two wishes. The episode that inspired this post can be found here.


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