Writing – Reflection, Responses and Grades

Computers - TwoStudent Feedback 

You’ll hear lots of great ideas from colleagues near and far. Here are some to add to those you may want to consider. Creating and including a rubric with the assignment help a great deal. Below are three different formats I’ve used with students in grades 7 through adults in grad school for in-class  peer commenting. Incorporating these strategies into my instruction reduced the turn around time between students writing drafts and getting useful feedback to use during revising. It also improved the quality of final drafts, thus reducing the turn around time between my collecting and returning graded papers. Well-written papers are easier to grade and significantly more pleasurable to read.

#1 Before

students turn in a writing assignment, I ask them to “check” their own papers using a customized rubric. Then, arrange peer editing of the drafts in one of two ways. Both assignments can be completed in a 50 class period and are so useful for both students and teacher.

#2 -Using computers

When enough computers are available, we do the peer responses on line. Each person reads and responds to three peer papers using the Insert Comment function in MS Word. Before class meeting, students upload a revised version of their paper. Have a list of students where all can see them. Each person finds his/her own name, then responds to the drafts of the next three students on the list.

During class: Students download and save drafts of assigned peers, using last name, A, B, and C. Then upload papers on which they’ve commented.

  • For student A: Read and comment on CONTENT
  • For student B: Read and comment on ORGANIZATION
  • For student C: Read and comment on use of LANGUAGE, citations, quality of resources (or whatever other element you’ve included in the assignment.
  • Include one commendation and one recommendation for each classmate.

At end of period, each student downloads and saves the three sets of comments from peers. I often invite students include on their draft one specific feature on which they’d like readers to pay close attention or give comment.

Students then can use what they learned from reading other papers AND the comments received on their own papers to guide the revision of their own papers. I do read the electronic drafts and comments, and design the next class meeting to address the general issues observed from my reading.

#3 Read Around Groups or RAGS

  1. 1. Students bring word-processed version of paper to class.
  2. 2. Students sit in circles of 4-5. A, B,C, D, etc.
  3. 3. Teacher collects the drafts from each group and redistributes them. A to B, B to C, C to D, etc.
  4. 4. Teacher sets kitchen timer for 2-3 minutes (depending on length of draft)
  5. 5. Students read paper 1 until buzzer. Pass paper to right. Read paper #2, etc. until only one paper is left to be read.
  6. 6. Teacher distributes copies of the rubric, one per student.
  7. 7. Students read and comment on the rubric about last paper. Attach the rubric to that paper.
  8. 8. Teacher collects papers and redistributes papers to writers.
  9. 9. Teacher conducts general assignment inviting students to comment only on what worked well. (They know what didn’t and mentioning it aloud could be more harmful than helpful.)
  10. 10. Teacher pays close attention to what is NOT said, then designs the next lesson to help students improve their papers before teacher collects and grades final drafts.

Asides

While I will answer questions during the drafting and revising process, I usually refer students to their peers, saving my extended comments for final drafts.  I seldom permit complete rewrites for a change in grade.  Instead students are encouraged to apply to their next assignment what they learned writing this one.

To reduce angst about grades, I generally begin a course with low point assignments and increase the value of the assignments as the course proceeds.  The standards for the assignments remain high, but the students are less likely to challenge grades if it is not likely to have significant negative impact on the final grade for the course.

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Teaching English Language Arts