Critique and Classroom Culture

Typically, the normal response to the word “critique” gives most people the heebie jeebies. No one really likes to be evaluated or told where they aren’t quite measuring up. Our challenge for today is to re-think the whole word! Critique is defined as: a detailed analysis and assessment of something. That’s not quite as scary. Analyzing is actually pretty fun and definitely something we want our students to aspire to…looking at something from a detailed and focused perspective.

“Critique as a matter of culture, not simply an activity

Many teachers employ some form of what they call critique in their classrooms. Many have also run into the same problem over and over of how to get students to make simple changes and not leave their work half done. My research convinced me that in order for collaboration to grow and critique to be most effective in the classroom, it cannot be treated as simply an activity to be done on this or that day of the week. Rather one must approach critique and collaboration as issues of culture.” -Juli Ruff    High Tech High

This excerpt from an Unboxed article details the essential components of critique and is one of the best resources we have today on the topic. Welcome to today’s Fabulous Friday Find! Take a break and read through all Juli has to say…it will be well worth your time on this Friday!

Ron Berger, author of An Ethic of Excellence, details his thoughts about implementing classroom critique in the video below. Be sure to watch part one and two for all of Ron’s thoughts!

You may be thinking, I like the idea of critique and I’d love to start it in my classroom…but where do I begin? Start with an exemplary model of student work and work through a practice critique together. (You can also explore generating rubrics this way before your project begins!) Once your students have seen this in action you can allow them to peer critique. To generate a focus for your students, pick the most important elements of your project and their work and run a few focused critiques in the beginning. For example: if you want the beginning sentence of your student work to be phenomenal, just focus your student critique only on that first sentence. If you’re also concerned about accurate content, run a focused critique on accuracy of facts contained in the work.

One of the beautiful things about the teaching profession is that each and every day we can try something new, even if the day before the lesson really “tanked.” Each and every day, our students have the ability, not only to learn, but to teach us something new as well.

How can you be kind, specific, and helpful in your classroom with your students today?

Help us critique our work as well! Please fill out a survey about our blog. One response will be chosen soon to receive a special thank you gift.


Witness a critique with students in the classroom environment! Watch this additional video and experience how it can transform your student work!


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