One of the hardest parts about using the writing process with my 4th grade students has always been the revising and editing stage. Unless structured properly, it can quickly lose its effectiveness. Revision is such a vague term for kids so without a clear, step-by-step strategy for them to follow they tend to flounder and get lost in it all. Yesterday I shared one part of how I have my students complete the revising and editing step with a writer’s check list. Today’s post focuses on another piece of the puzzle – peer review.
Something for the Extroverts
I’m well aware that my classroom is full of unique individuals with a wide-range of personality types. Some of us are introverts. Others of us are extroverts. My approach to revising and editing takes advantage of both types. Yesterday’s strategy for using a writer’s check list is for us introverts who like to quietly work by ourselves. Today’s strategy is for our always friendly extroverts. With peer review, they get a chance to share their work with a friend and receive feedback on their efforts.
Pairing Up for Revision
Students pair up with their rough drafts and a copy of the writer’s check list. Remember, the check list is aligned with the scoring guide so if students follow the criteria on the check list, they will also match how I will score their writing. The check list is just a simplified version of the scoring guide. Seated shoulder to shoulder, one student reads his or her draft aloud to their partner. As you can see in the photo above, the partner is checking the list to make sure the writing matches our expectations.
The writer’s check list is the guide for both praising students’ successes and guiding them for revisions. Any box left unchecked should be a signal to the writer that something needs to be corrected. It’s also an excellent way for students to internalize the writing expectations throughout the entire unit.
Peer Review Suggestions
Be clear about your behavior parameters at the start of this process. Walk around the classroom and pause for a few seconds to “eavesdrop” on student conversations. Praise and prompt as needed.
- As much as possible, keep pairings to 2 students only.
- Students sit shoulder-to-shoulder with one student reading their draft aloud and the other student using the writer’s check list.
- Boxes not checked on the list should be examined by both writers as a source of revision.
- If something doesn’t sound right, pause and fix it – you might want to model this because a lot of students will realize they’ve left words out of their writing in their haste to be finished.
- If available, have students who are reading their drafts aloud use a fluency phone to better hear themselves. Many errors can be caught by students simply by hearing their writing read aloud.
- In the beginning, require students who say they are “done” to show you specifically where in their drafts they made revisions. If they claim that none were needed, press them on the issue by referring to each point on the check list or scoring guide. There’s always something that can be made better!
That’s it for this post. Time for lunch before I finish writing the last few posts in my 20 Days of Opinion Writing series. Oh, and I want to see if the UPS guy has delivered a package – I’m expecting a pretty pink Kate Spade purse that I got for a steal at 75% off! Can’t wait to wear it to church for Easter! Happy teaching! ~Sally