Austin’s Butterfly

Austin’s Butterfly has been on G 1 & 3 ‘s radar ever since the day I showed them this video:

After this video, students had their own experience with giving and receiving feedback from their peers when they did a Peer Critique using their 1st lapbooks. Students rotated around the classroom sharing their lapbooks with friends. They were asked to listen to feedback and also to give feedback as well. It was clear that this activity had a profound impact on their learning and understanding as currently, their 2nd lapbooks took on a completely different appearance. Their 2nd lapbooks became more clear, concise and more content-laden. Furthermore, they too could see for themselves that something was definitely different:

“This lapbook looks better than the first. I think it is because that one was Austin’s first butterfly.”

Importance of Austin’s Butterfly

  1. The nature of effective critique. Most obviously, Ron is showing that critique is kind, helpful and very specific, focused on a well-defined outcome is immensely powerful.  He is also showing that children can learn to do this.  Austin improved his butterfly based on feedback from his peers.
  1. Lesson: It pays to give feedback in this fashion as teacher but also to teach students how to give feedback.  Not only does it help the recipient, it helps them to cement their understanding of what success looks like.
  1. The value of re-drafting.  Imagine if the teacher had just left it at draft one! Or even number three? There was more to come from Austin but he could have been allowed to stop short, to move on to something else before he’d fully explored this particular process. How often do we do that?  I’d suggest that too often we accept work from a student that is mediocre..far short of their best…and don’t enable them or insist that they go further.   Re-drafting or, more generally, improving work is under-rated.  Austin found out that he could draw a superb butterfly; the teacher found out that he could too – because he was given time and space to continually improve.  In fact he went back a bit in order to move forward… that was part of the process.
  1. The growth-mindset aspect. The growth-mindset aspect.  The thing that strikes me most about this video is the contrast between Austin’s first and last drafts and the way that changes your perception of this unknown first-grader.  Presented with the first draft.. you might think that that was what Austin could do. Presented with the final draft, you’d think he was a very talented young boy.  But it is the same boy… the final draft was always in him; it just needed to find a way out – with some help from his friends.

Let’s’ think about the possibility that every student is a possible Austin. Let’s challenge our early impressions of students and give them more time to produce work of the highest quality so they know what it feels like; so they get that sense of achievement and get a taste for more.

  • Planning and Drafting Work
  • Planning and Drafting Work
  • Planning and Drafting Work
  • Planning and Drafting Work
  • Planning and Drafting Work

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