Editing Peer Editing

I have always disliked peer editing day, yet I keep trying to get it right.  By peer editing I mean the practice of having students drag in their drafts for each other to critique.  Here are my major beefs: most students don't like having to read each others' work, they are hesitant to offer anything beyond some bland, gormless feedback, and they generally have a hard time staying on task.

I've looked at lots of different rubrics, feedback forms and ways to structure the task, but it never seems to me that it's all that helpful.  Today, unfortunately, is peer editing day.  So of course I am trying still another method for getting students to help each other write better essays.   Here's what I came up with (and props to my excellent colleague in our Center for Teaching Excellence for giving me the gist of this idea):

You will be placed into groups of three.  The goal is to spend 20-25 minutes on each person’s paper.   Two people read the paper at a time.  Then the readers will discuss the paper for approximately 5-10 minutes, and the writer is not allowed to join the conversation (only to listen and take notes on what is said).  Indeed, the writer must sit with his or her back to the conversation. 
Readers should at a minimum discuss these questions:
·         What are your reactions to this paper?
·         What is the writer trying to tell you? What does he or she most want readers to understand?
·         What are this paper's greatest strengths? 
·         Does it have any major weaknesses?  If so, what are they?
·         What 2-3 suggestions do you have for improving this paper?

Once the readers have finished discussing the paper, the writer may ask questions of the readers.  But only ask questions.
Writers: be sure to ask for specific feedback on things or an explanation if a comment made by the readers wasn’t clear.   Be concrete and specific about what you want to know.   Each person should act as a reader twice and the writer once.  Manage your time so everyone gets an equal amount of consideration and feedback!
It's an eighty minute period, so groups of three should get through this with enough time spent on each student's work.  Not sure how this will go.  I like the idea of just having the writer listen while two people discuss his or her paper.  It should give them a real sense of what readers see in the work as opposed to what they think they wrote.
Eh, chances are I will still be unhappy with peer editing day, but you never know.


Anti-Dada said…
It should be interesting watching the writers squirm, dying to speak, while two others talk about their writing.

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