Ladder of Feedback

PDF Download: Ladder of Feedback – Please use with your students. Respond in the comments with what worked and what you would change. 

Ladder of Feedback

I am working with MYP students on a Design unit at the moment in which they are designing a solution under the umbrella topic of “Improving Lives”. Everyone is at the stage of needing feedback on ideas in order to help inform their decision of which idea to pursue in more detail. To guide this process, I went in search of a thinking routine or protocol that might provide some structure to this feedback. This was prompted after discussing the idea of feedback (specifically the feedback I was giving students) with our Head of Upper School and me realizing that I needed to be more intentional in the way I gave feedback. This document from the Oregon Department of Education: Six Insights on Feedback, was a particularly useful refresher on all things Feedback related. I also found this post: Five Evidence Gathering Routines to be another useful one for future reference.

From there, I  was inspired by a Mind/Shift post on Developing Students’ Ability to Give and Take Effective Feedback.  It detailed a High School idea of using DeBono’s thinking hats to guide feedback and a modified ‘warm/cool’ feedback protocol for primary students. While these ideas got me thinking, I was looking for something a little more in depth than the warm/cool and a little more structured – or more specifically, something with a more defined structure already in place.

I came across some work on Student-Centered Peer Assessment that was really helpful. It outlined what peer assessment was, what it was not, and how to use it with students. It also outlined the use of the Ladder of Feedback. A little more investigating led me to this document on the Ladder of Feedback that went into further detail about the origin and the stages in the ladder.

Note: The first document led me to a website that was new to me: Students At The Centre Hub. I haven’t had a chance to fully check this out, but it looks pretty good. 

I found another resource which led me to add the final stage – giving thanks. I can’t remember where I saw this, but I liked the addition (and will try and find where I found this to link back to here).


I used it with my 9th graders and it was pretty successful. It definitely scaffolded the conversations and encouraged participation. Student ideas were validated by their peers and opportunities arose for students to hear concerns and questions. Overall, the students said the protocol was useful and was something they saw as effective in getting information about their ideas. There were some groups who wanted to jump right up to the suggestions but had to slow down and start at the bottom. Some kids found giving thanks quite challenging so we talked about offering thanks for simply sharing your ideas.

I will use this again. I want to listen to what is being said by students and what I am saying as a sentence starter when kids get ‘stuck’ and see if the text on the sheet doesn’t need modifying to make it more effective.

How do you create opportunities for Peer Feedback in your classroom?

Edited to add: A friend (and member of my Mastermind Group) sent me the link to a PDF Download from IDEO called The Feedback Tango.  It goes into the nuances between those giving and receiving the feedback and with older students could be analysed as is. Younger students might need help with having it translated into more ‘kid speak’.  Both groups would “enjoy” doing a little Tango in the classroom 🙂

9 thoughts on “Ladder of Feedback”

  1. Reblogged this on i-Biology and commented:
    I use the Ladder of Feedback from Project Zero a lot with students and in workshops/ proijects, but I really like this version adapted by Sonya Terborg, adding “Thanks” at the end. Give it a go!

  2. I have a section near the beginning of my MS DT classes in which students have the option to step to the front, explain their project for 1 minute, ask a question of the other designers in class (with thinking time after the question is posed, up to the second 1 minute mark) and 3 minutes of feedback. Occasionally I don’t have any volunteers, but usually at least 1 and up to 3 students are eager to get some feedback. I’m going to start using this to help scaffold comments, in addition to using it in peer review sessions. Thanks!

      1. Sonya, still love this protocol and would like to include a version of it in a book that I am co-authoring. Can I have your email address to connect? You can DM on Twitter if you prefer. Thanks!

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