Annotated expert work samples

Why we do this

Expert work samples are one of the coolest ways partners can support Sidekick's kids. This is one of the few times students (and teachers!) get to peek behind the curtain of your industry and see how the work gets done by the experts: you. Expert work samples engage students by showing them how what they're learning gets used in the real world while giving them a north star for their own work.

How to create an expert work sample

Expected time commitment: 20 minutes

Our current process allows you to create an expert work sample using all the same tools you're familiar with in a few simple steps. We going to use Google Drive's built-in file viewing and commenting features to annotate your work sample. As long as you know how to leave comments on G Suite and Microsoft Office documents, you can comment on student work.

Find a past sample of your work that is the same or similar to the chosen work product.

Your human Sidekick will provide you with:

  1. 2-3 skills the students are building.

  2. 1 or more work products students are current working on.

Reflect on how you use the skills students are learning in your own work. Identify a same or similar work product from your past where those same skills made a big, noticeable difference in what you produced.

Now go find it! Go on, I'll be here when you get back 👋. Your work product can be a document, a spreadsheet, a presentation, a drawing, an image, a video, a website, and anything else you could upload. If you don't have an example you can share because it's confidential, feel free to find one shared online to use a proxy.

As an example...

Let's say students are putting together a social media video and they're learning how to think from an audience's perspective. You might be an advertiser who creates product demo videos.

Has your demo video ever made it onto social media? Maybe, maybe not. But you recognize that even though they aren't the exact same product, you are often thinking from an audience's perspective when creating them, and you realize they probably share a lot of the same attributes as social media videos.

You rummage through your project archives to find a WEBM video recording sitting in a file folder.

Upload your work sample to the provided folder.

Your human Sidekick will provide you with a private link to a folder that we'll share with the teachers and students. That link will look something like Note:

  • Only you will be able to access the link at the email you provided us.

  • That email must be connected to a Google or G Suite account.

  • Google Drive does not yet support viewing and commenting for every file type.

Go to this folder. Then, drag and drop the file for your expert work sample into the folder.

Check to see that your file correctly processed in the viewer (for some large files like videos, this can take a few minutes). Here's an example of a video that's been correctly processed:

Leave comments pointing out where the skills students are learning make the biggest, most noticeable difference in the work product.

Start with one skill the students are building. Pick one of the potential work products students are working on. Compare the quality of various "features" and "attributes" of the work product made by people in your field who differ in skill level of the skill you picked. Here's a way to think about it:

Define quality

How is "quality" defined in your field? A creative agency may highly value novelty or sensibility. Actuaries may rather prefer an estimate be accurate and precise.

Find where the skill makes the biggest difference.

For the skill you picked, which feature does the quality between a low-skilled professional and a high-skilled professional differ the most? That's the place it makes the biggest difference.

If it's hard to know who is skilled in your field, compare an entry-level intern on their first day to a master of your field.

Find where the skill makes the most noticeable difference.

Every so often, the quality of a feature is really hard to see. This can be the case if the ultimate outcome from the work product is pretty far removed from the original output of the work product. In that case, look for features you can easily see differ between low-skilled and high-skilled professionals. That's the place it makes the most noticeable difference.

Leave your comment (template provided)

In your comment, mention which skill helped you (or the creator) produce the feature, which skill level is reflected in that feature, and how that skill level made a difference in that feature. Feel free to answer any or all of the following guiding questions:

  • What was your skill level at the time you created the work product?

  • How did that affect the decisions you made, process you used, or technical delivery?

  • Was there anyone else in your field you wished you had the skill of?

  • How would that have changed the quality of the feature?

To make things quick and easy, feel free to copy and paste the provided template. Replace any ALL_UPPERCASE_AND_UNDERSCORE words with your own input.

Skill: SKILL


Because of my skill level at the time, HOW_THE_FEATURE_CHANGED_DUE_TO_YOUR_SKILL_LEVEL.


Select the copy icon in the upper-right to copy the text. It looks like this:

⚠️ Avoid focusing on product features that only a skilled professional could produce. You're looking for features with variance in quality across skill levels rather than features that you "unlock" after reaching a certain skill level threshold. Chances are, those thresholds are so high for our students they'll feel out of reach and they'll check out.

⚠️ Google Drive does not support high-fidelity comments for some file types like videos and audio. For example, video comments aren't "anchored" to a certain frame, point in the timeline, or visible area on the video.

We're working on a better way to leave comments on these files. In the meantime, we recommend you manually include timestamps in your comments. For example, "[1:32 - upper left corner area] The rest of my comment goes here..."

(If you're tech-savvy, you could use a third-party tool such as Timelinely or record a screencast and create your own annotations using tools like Loom.)


What if Google Drive doesn't support viewing and commenting for my file type?

Sorry about that! We're still figuring out how to handle every file type. If Google Drive can't support your file type, we'd ask you to upload a "working product" that Google Drive does support. A working product is something you create along the way to your final product. Products like idea sketches, notes from meeting, mockups, back-of-the-napkin calculations, etc. Somewhere throughout your process you likely created something Google Drive supports. Seeing these working products are often just as valuable as seeing the end product, if not more so.

You can't see skills like collaboration, empathy, communication, etc...

First of all, we love you. We think you're great for offering your time to these students. And on this you're wrong. 😘

Stay tuned for a longer explanation. In the meantime, why not take another shot at finding where those skills ended up showing up?

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