Well. It's Friday. Thank the lord. It has been a looooong week. Today I came home to a blanket chewed to shreds by my dog. First time she has ever chewed anything. So that was fun. And with the nice warmer weather comes people outside, walking dogs and working in yards, which brings me lots of barks from my little girl. Good thing I love her so much ;)
But I wanted to talk a little about something I tried today with my College English students. Every paper they write, we do peer editing/reviewing in class. I think this is so important because, for one, it teaches them to think of an audience besides just the teacher. They should realize other people will read their writing and try to write for a broader audience.
They also have to understand that just because something makes sense in their own heads, doesn't mean it makes sense to other people. We also have a tendency to think what we are doing is right and not realize what other things we may be missing or did not think of. I try to get at least 3 peer editors to read each paper, depending on time.
Over the course of this year, I have tried many different methods of peer response. It can become tedious for them and I know it's not their favorite thing to do, so I try to change it up. Today I decided to have them sit in a circle (I only have 9 in this class) and get out their essays and a sheet of paper. On the top of their own paper, they wrote "author: their name." Then they passed their essay and that sheet of paper to the right.
I made up 8 rounds of peer editing (I typed up a handout for them explaining each round). In essence, they would focus on something different for each round. So in round one, they simply read for the thesis. They highlighted it when they found it, and on the author's paper under Round 1, answered some questions I gave them about the thesis. After round 1 is complete, we passed the papers again. Now each student is looking at a different essay for round 2, where they focus only on topic sentences.
In total we had 8 rounds so that each student's essay made it all the way around the circle (well it should have. We had some absences today, but it still worked fine because even if they saw an essay twice, they were doing different things each time).
By the end of it, each author got a paper back with 8 different rounds and 8 different focuses, ranging from thesis to support to organization to mechanics and style. They also had a bunch of different students read their essays instead of just one or two, which is why I like this method.
We started this yesterday halfway through class and it also took all of today's class. Next time I think I will budget three days for this method and try to get each paper around the circle twice (so there would be two Round 1's, but two different people completing round 1) for even more feedback. Hopefully they got some useful revisions.
Over the weekend, they are filling out a conference preparation sheet in preparation for our conferences Mon-Tues. I ask them to do a variety of things to evaluate their own essay, I have them mark different things in the essay as proof to show me, and then I have them grade themselves using the rubric and explain the grade to me. I spend about 10-15 min with each student. I don't know how I will do this if I get bigger sections next year, but we'll cross that bridge later. I love doing them because it gives me a chance to touch base before I see final essays and lets them ask one-on-one questions. I do not read the entire essay and tell them what to fix; instead, it is student-led and they come to ME with specific questions and point out only specific sections for me to read and answer questions on. I like having it more focused this way.
Have a great weekend, everyone! My principal told me today that I will soon be receiving a SMARTBoard, so that was the highlight of my Friday :)