Non Face-2-Face Verbal Feedback with the iPad #ipadchat

When it comes to learning, feedback is critical.  So when it comes to one’s writing, the principle is no different.

I have been teaching English for only six years but have struggled with this feedback process time and time again.  I realize it is the most important part, and yet to do it effectively, I must commit literally hours to making sure I do it right.  It’s the proverbial thorn in my side.

The Old Way

To give the right feedback I’ve tried…

  1. Writing as clearly as possible in the margins.  Double-spaced, of course, gives me more room.  Students then can’t read the notes, and it takes me even longer to write it all.
  2. Using shorthand notes and asking my students to decipher them.  They never get the full message.
  3. Shorthand notes followed by face-to-face conference.  VERY in-class time consuming.
  4. I’ve limited the length of the writing, but then I’m just limiting the student’s ability to express and synthesize their thoughts.
I’ve battled with this process every single time I assign writing.

Notability to the Rescue

Then when we went 1:1 with iPads in December of 2011, we discovered Notabilty.  I played around with it and at first was impressed.  I thought it to be a very versatile note-taking app.  Then I discovered that it also has the ability to record audio along with the notes.  And THAT’S when the lightbulb exploded.

The New, Improved, Time-Saving Process

Now that my students and I both have Notability, the process looks like this.
  1. Students type their writing in any word processing app of their choice (this could include Notability).
  2. Email the document to me as a PDF.
  3. I then take those and put them in a folder in my Notability app.  I also have the ability to attach the rubric to each writing.
  4. I read and only circle, highlight, star, or emoticon, their writing.  Nothing else.
  5. Once finished, fill out the rubric.
  6. Then, I hit the record button, and start giving my verbal comments starting at the very top.  I discuss why each marking exists and the reasoning for the scoring.
  7. Email back to students as a Notability file.
Minimal markings and recording button.
Students then can listen to my comments on their own time and follow along with the markings.
I have noticed HUGE improvements with grammar and mechanics.
I have even had students do this with one another when doing peer review.  But really, this can be done in any class for any assignment that may require some feedback, but can’t afford to take the time in class.
Below is a tutorial from YouTube…
What do you use to give that crucial verbal feedback?
Mr. Bormann
English Rocks!
P.S. CLICK HERE for an app review written by me for

11 responses to “Non Face-2-Face Verbal Feedback with the iPad #ipadchat

  1. Good question, Sally.
    When I'm done giving written and verbal feedback, I can export a number of different ways. Exporting as a Notability file puts the written and audio notes together as one and can only be opened in Notability. However, if I wish to email it back to a student that just has a laptop or computer, I can export it as a PDF. It sends a PDF and audio file as a single attached .zip file. They just have to unzip the file and listen to the audio in one program while the view the PDF in another. Make sense?


  2. Students can export their notes in Notability to a PDF. But it's only the written portion. If you wish to export the audio, it can do that, but it takes the written notes and audio and puts it in a zip file. Unless both students have Notability, then it can be emailed simply as a Notability file.
    Hope this helps.


  3. How would you have a record of the student response to your feedback? We are working on being able to show Ofsted that learning conversatins are taking place, but struggling to evidence them?


  4. Great question! I guess I haven't taken it that far. More than one recording can be saved to the same Notability file. So students can actually record their response back in that same document and send it back to you. Then you have your feedback AND their response both in the same document. Don't forget, Notability can also sync to Dropbox or Google Drive, so they are saved for future documenting.
    Another idea, and I'm just brainstorming here from our position as 1:1 with iPads, students could send back to me a video clip of their response. Then it feels more face-to-face. These video clips can be sent to me directly or uploaded to a class YouTube account that I create. They can be uploaded as private videos, so only I can view them. I write about this process in an earlier blog post of mine.
    What do you think? Do either of these sound like possibilities for what you're looking for?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s