Class Critiques

Presenting work for discussion & analysis

Image from Ferris Bueller's Day Off

A class critique of students work as the culmination to a project gives students a chance to present their work for discussion and is an important part of the creative process. Critique sessions provide students an authentic audience, a chance to think critically as a designer, artist, videographer, etc. A chance to critique other’s work not only helps each student improve their work, but helps them learn to think critically.

One of the issues with critiquing that I have encountered at the middle and high school level is that students are often shy to offer their opinions on a public forum, a few students might dominate the conversations, students might not know how to engage the work, or they have a hard time becoming engaged in the process.

To solve this quandary I use Critique Guidelines with an emphasis on positive constructive feedback and utilize games, activities, and methods that I have developed to engage the whole class in the feedback process. Take a look below for the critique guidelines and examples of a few of the activities I have developed for use during critique sessions.

Critique Guidelines

Projects are coupled with a class screening or viewing of the work and a group critique. Each student will be asked to give feedback to their fellow designer, photographer, artist or videographer. Students are expected to follow the guidelines of a critique using warm and cool feedback.

Warm Feedback:

  • Provides specific feedback to the creator

  • NOT general statements of approval. Avoid statements such as: “I liked it.”, “This is good.”, “Great job!”, “Well done.”

  • Highlights and recognizes the strengths of the video (“names what is effective”). “Your use of color prompts a few questions in my mind. I’m already wondering what will come next.” “The flow of your video makes sense to me. I can see how one scene leads to another.”

Cool Feedback:

  • Wonderings, questions, and dilemmas viewers find in the content

  • NOT criticism. Cool feedback poses ideas that prompt the presenter to think about the work from a different perspective. “I” statements and the use of “might” rather than “should” promote an environment of respect and leave the creative control in the hands of the presenter.

Crit Cards

These cards are designed to aid in students in the critique sessions. The cards are a way to give prompting and guide students to give valuable feedback. Each students receives two cards of different colors. After a student has presented their work to the class, a student from the audience is randomly picked using a random name picker app. The student decides which card they will use in order to give feedback.Each card can only be used once.

There are three different kinds of cards:

Question What You See (Orange)

Using state words, the student asks the presenter a question about their work.

Question the Process (Purple)

The student asks a question about the work to the presenter.

Give Feedback (Aqua)

Thinking about style, design, construction, intentions, and project constraints, a student gives feedback based of the question(s).

Stars & Wishes

Two Stars and a Wish is a visible thinking technique for formative assessment that can help elicit evidence of student learning and engagement. This feedback strategy is designed to provide students with feedback via peer and self-assessment. I have taken this strategy and transformed it to work for critiquing student work post-viewing.

Each student is given a Stars & Wishes document for each project that is being shown. Students must carefully view the work thinking about creativity, construction, technique, storytelling, and editing. On the document there is space for the student to give two stars where they provide feedback thinking about what this person or group did well and what they liked about their work. They also mush provide one wish which is one think the person or group have done to improve their project.