Streamline Student Feedback with a Simple Spreadsheet Tool

'I Like How You… Next Time You Might…'

In a previous post, I discussed how you could begin to create a comment database for streamlining feedback. As teachers, we save, refine, and perfect our lessons, but we forget to streamline, refine, and perfect our feedback. We tend to start from scratch with feedback.

Read How Apple Makes Feedback Easy: Debunking A Myth About Teacher Feedback!

Good news: this post includes a handy downloadable. You will see how the &””& formula brings feedback together and it hopefully will inspire you to explore other ways to enhance your spreadsheets and student learning with this powerful tool. One simple way I use Numbers and spreadsheets to create student feedback is with an “I like how you… Next time you might…” formula, which utilizes a little-known spreadsheet formula, &””&, to bring your comments together.

I Like How You... Next Time You Might...

When giving students constructive criticism, it is important to create a balance. In my classroom, you cannot tell a student what he or she can improve on unless you first point out something to celebrate. This can be a helpful feedback formula for any assignment, but it can be especially helpful for smaller assignments and class presentations that still need feedback. It can also be a great model for students, who can learn to balance constructive criticism with celebrations.

For example, let’s imagine that Bobby is creating a visual for Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s "The Little Prince."


An illustration of "The Little Prince": a blonde figure in a red coat on a sandy hill, with a pastel sky, stars, and writing.
After seeing his image, you might say, “I like how you incorporated actual pages and certain imagery from the book in your creation, such as stars and the desert. Next time, you might omit certain items that are never mentioned in the book, such as a hot air balloon or a flag.”

This approach can also be a great way to model feedback for our students, no matter their age.

Numbers, Spreadsheets, and our Formulas

One way that I streamline this feedback process is with a spreadsheet or table and the formula &””&. Look at the example below. At the end of this post, this example can also be downloaded and modified. With our “I Like How You… Next Time You Might…” formula, you can create, copy, refine, tweak, and rework each comment. This allows you to create new comments from scratch or rework, copy, paste and reuse comments for students who would receive similar celebrations and feedback. 

A feedback table for students with columns for names, positive comments, suggestions for improvement, and optional commentary
"I Like How You... Next Time You Might..." Feedback Table

As each comment is added to a column, they are brought together in the final column using our &""& formula. Just like 2 numbers that are added together by a +, this sheet is using the &””& to bring the contents of each column together to form a paragraph.


A table with feedback for a student named Emma. It praises her illustration for capturing the story's whimsical essence.
Emma's Example

In the example above, with our first student Emma, you will see that as you add to the "I Like How You..." column, the formula (&""&) then combines your feedback with the "Next Time You Might..." column to produce the final comment. This makes feedback easy to share, also allowing me to reuse the individual comments for other students.


A laptop screen displays a grading rubric for a visual art assignment, highlighting feedback and on a student's work.
&""& Formula, Bringing Content Together

Additionally, your comments can now be saved for future classes and assignments, adding to your larger database and making them available for additional classes or future years. They can also be easily shared.

Copy and Paste

When sharing your comments, the final comments can easily be copied and pasted into your preferred Learning Management System or online grade book. They can also be easily emailed to your students and parents. However, when copying and pasting from a spreadsheet, you must be careful. In Numbers and Pages, after copying, make sure to select “Paste Formula Results” in the “Edit” menu.

A Numbers spreadsheet's Edit menu shows various options, highlighting "Paste Formula Results" in blue, ready to be selected.
Copy and "Paste Formula Results"


While the “I Like How You… Next Time You Might…” formula is an absolute star for feedback, our true star in the spreadsheet is &””&. As you can see, on our spreadsheet, the content is brought together in the final column by &””&. Like the + in a math-based spreadsheet that creates a sum, the &””& formula brings all the selected content together in the same cell. As educators, you might consider how you can leverage the &””& formula to create new experiences for you or your students.


An iPad screen shows a story-writing template with prompts: "Once upon a time," Etc... Each prompt has a student answer.
Original Story Spine Assignment using &""&
For example, with our &””& formula, I can create work experiences for my students that ask them to focus on individual tasks while our formula brings the content together. Look at this example of how I use my lesson on story spine and the &””& formula to create a unique experience for my students. Still, that is most likely a topic for another post.


Bold black text saying, "I like how you will use this resource! Next time you might experiment with &””&!"

In Conclusion…

The “I Like How You… Next Time You Might…” formula is a game-changer in providing balanced and constructive feedback. By highlighting something positive before suggesting an area for improvement, you create an encouraging environment that motivates students to grow. Incorporating this method into your feedback process not only helps streamline your comments but also models an effective way for students to critique their own and others’ work.

Utilizing the &””& formula in a spreadsheet allows you to seamlessly combine and customize these comments, making the process more efficient and impactful. This approach saves time and helps build a robust feedback database that you can use for future assignments and classes. As you implement this formula, you’ll find new ways to enhance your teaching and create a more supportive and productive learning experience for your students. Embrace the “I Like How You… Next Time You Might…” method and see the positive impact it can have on your classroom dynamics.

Try the template below, and next time you might just find it easier than ever to share feedback.


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