Math Wheels for Note-taking?

Distance Learning and Student Feedback: Three Types of Self-Correcting Activities for Middle School Math


Providing student feedback is an important part of learning. But it isn't always easy.  This blog post details the benefits of using self-checking activities.

You walk around the classroom, looking at students’ math work, listening to students’ conversations, chatting with students about their math work, correcting possible misunderstandings, and reinforcing correct thinking. You are there watching and listening and providing student feedback as needed. You can provide feedback in a timely manner to help students move forward in the learning process.  But what happens when you aren’t there? What happens when can’t provide immediate student feedback?  Keep reading to find out!

Today, there are many reasons why you might not be available to provide immediate feedback. This might include teaching in a non-traditional setting like an online school. Or, you might be teaching in an unprecedented time like the spring of 2020.  Whatever it is – providing student feedback while distance learning is not impossible.

Providing student feedback in distance learning

Student feedback is so important. When a student completes a task – a practice problem, responding to a reading passage, reading aloud, writing an essay – whatever they’re learning – they need to know if they did it right or they need to know what to do differently. Then they can repeat and practice correctly.

When you’re with your students, giving feedback is relatively easy. You can nod, give a thumbs up, give verbal feedback, etc.

But when the learning is virtual, or you need to social distance, it’s not so easy! You can’t walk among the students, look at their work, and take the quick moment to correct a little misunderstanding. So providing feedback becomes even more critical with distance learning…when you can’t see students’ body language, facial expressions, etc, that indicate they don’t fully understand the concept. Even on a Zoom call or Google hangout, it’s tough to just see everyone, let alone notice everyone’s cues!

How can you provide feedback to students in this type of situation? Or in a situation where you’re in the classroom, but can’t be close enough to students to check their math work in the same way? Self-correcting digital activities are one great way to provide that feedback.

Benefits of Self-Checking Digital Resources

How are self-checking resources beneficial for providing student feedback? Obviously, they aren’t the same as being next to your students, checking their work yourself, and giving them verbal feedback. But, they’re so much more beneficial than assigning an activity that gives students no indication of whether they ‘get it’ or not.

  • The self-checking element is a step toward avoiding a lot of incorrect practice.

1) Self-checking resources provide immediate feedback 
One benefit of self-checking math activities is that they provide immediate feedback – research has shown that feedback is most effective when it’s given immediately. While you may not be able to give very detailed feedback all the time in a distance learning situation, it’s helpful for students to at least know if they’re correct or incorrect when they’re practicing math concepts.

2) Self-checking activities give students more independence
Self-checking, digital math activities, especially non-graded activities, allow students to feel independent and more responsible for their work. The benefits here are that students may take more time to retry a question they answered incorrectly, or retry the entire activity because they aren’t being monitored. Since they aren’t being watched as they’re practicing, they can try again without feeling self-conscious about it.

I remember doing math homework back in high school and loving when the answers were in the back of the math book – not because I wanted to cheat, but because i wanted to check myself! If my answer was wrong, I’d redo the problem until I got it right.

Three types of self-checking digital activities

So far, I’ve created three types of self-checking activities.
1) My favorite are the Truth or Dare games🙂
These are in Google Slides (and on my digital math activities site) and do require a good amount of navigation. This is a quick overview of the steps (video demo below).

  • choose a question from a grid
  • click to go to the answer sheet to record the answer and the # of points attempted
  • click to the answer to see if correct/incorrect
  • click back to the answer sheet to record points (or record zero points)
  • click back to the grid to select a new question
  • repeat!

These are my favorite because many of the answer cards show work or explain why the answer is correct/incorrect, helping lead to greater understanding for the students.

2) The next favorite are the self-checking task cards in Google slides. These are multiple choice questions. Selecting an answer takes students to a ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ answer slide. If the answer was incorrect, there’s a Back button they can select so they can try again.

3) I also love the pixel art color by answer activities in Google Sheets. These offer more ‘fun’ feedback because students see the colors appear if they get the answer correct. They can try again on these as well, by deleting the incorrect answer and entering a new one.

What other ways do you use to provide student feedback during distance learning or social distancing?


Welcome to Cognitive Cardio Math! I’m Ellie, a wife, mom, grandma, and dog ‘mom,’ and I’ve spent just about my whole life in school! With nearly 30 years in education, I’ve taught:

  • All subject areas in 4th and 5th grades
  • Math, ELA, and science in 6th grade (middle school)

I’ve been creating resources for teachers since 2012 and have worked in the elearning industry for about five years as well!

If you’re looking for ideas and resources to help you teach math (and a little ELA), I can help you out!



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