Archive for the 'Peer Feedback' Category


Thinking About Peer Feedback

I haven’t gotten too far past researching and thinking in terms of my inquiry project.  This is my response to Jillian on the discussion page for our group.  I think it’s an important foundation for where I will be going with this project:

I think in terms of determining what your goal is (and I’m saying this for my benefit), it is important to think about what you consider effective peer feedback to be?  Personally, I think it has to do with equipping our students with the language and strategies of critical writers and then showing them how they can use this to give each other peer feedback.  Ultimately, though, why is peer feedback important? What do we want our students to glean from such feedback?  I guess in my mind, I see peer feedback as a way to ensure that our students have a real audience as well as the chance to think critically about writing outside of their own–and ultimately we want them to be able to transfer this critical eye to their own writing.  I feel like this is a chicken and the egg question.  Do students need to become critical of their own writing before they can be critical of others–or vice versa?  I suppose the two things are…reciprocal.

Some of the strategies I have tried previously have included peer feedback circles where I provided a guide for them to follow as they read each others’ drafts, using blogs and comments as a way to encourage more holistic responses, and workshopping on peer feedback after finding that there was a deficit in students responses.  Looking back on these things, I think what I lacked was a focus on revision and how to use feedback to revise as well as showing students how peer feedback can help them to think critically about their own writing.  I also think that I need to equip my students with the right language to use as well as to provide additional models of what being critical of writing looks like.  Some of the things I’m thinking about include using outside model essays to analyze for strengths and weaknesses and to give feedback as a group–and then to revise together, possibly showing one of those Annenberg (sp?) videos of educators and students in action, one-on-one conferencing as well as group conferencing (where I’m involved–providing feedback in one-on-one and then facilitating in groups), and modeling how to use feedback to revise writing (which I think I would try to intertwine into my one-on-one conferences as well as model in a mini-lesson using a model essay I wrote for the assignment).  I think these practices will be shaky during this essay writing sequence since it will be the first time using them, but am hoping to build off of for our upcoming research paper at the end of March/beginning of April.

In terms of my writing sequence, I am thinking that I will moving through the following steps:

Day 1:   Essay intro; brainstorming ideas; reading essays as arguments and dissecting for process; discussing elements and applying to collaborative essay; thesis and graphic organizer for individual essay due next class

Day 2:  Thesis workshop; library day to draft; one-on-one conferencing to review game plans; begin drafting for next class

Day 3:  Library day to draft and continue one-on-one conferences; continue drafting for next class

Day 4:  Group conferencing to review drafts and continue drafting

Day 5: Peer feedback mini-lesson; fishbowl for peer feedback; peer feedback circles

Day 6: Revising workshop; library time to revise and edit; optional conferences

Day 7: Publication day–post to blog and receive audience responses (two stars and a wish?)


Ch. 1: Conferences Are Conversations (How’s It Going by Carl Anderson)

Ch. 1: Conferences Are Conversations

  • “I see conferences as a means to get to know students and as a powerful way of teaching them to be better writers” (6).
  • “I’ve held onto the word conversations because the word suggests so many things about the way I believe we should talk with students about their writing…it’s intimate, personal, shared” (6-7).
  • “I also use the word conversation because event though in a conference we are teachers talking with students, we are also writers talking to writers” (7).
  • According to Don Murray, “[Conferences] are not mini-lectures but the working talk of fellow writers sharing their experience with the writing process.  At times, of course, they will be teacher and student, master and apprentice, if you want, but most of the time they will be remarkably close to peers, because each writer, no matter how experiences, begins again with each draft” (qtd. in Anderson 7).
  • Conferences have a point to them:
    • According to Calkins, “We are teaching the writer and not the writing.  Our decisions must be guided by ;what might help this writer” rather than “what might help this writing.”  If the piece of writing gets better but the writer has learned nothing that will help him or her another day on another piece, then the conference was a waste of everyone’s time.  It may even have done more harm than good, for such conferences teach students not to trust their own reactions” (qtd. in Andersen 8).
    • Do’s
      • Teach strategies and techniques we use
      • Teach students to teach themselves
      • Teach students to be reflective
      • Be able to name what it is we did to help student become better writer
    • Don’t’s
      • Don’t get preoccupied with the topic
      • Don’t overcorrect
      • Don’t turn into therapy session
      • Don’t make it yours
  • Conferences have a predictable structure
    • Just as conversations have a predictable structure, so should writing conferences; this leads to efficient use of time.
      • Part 1: Conversation about the work the child is doing as a writer.
      • Part 2: Conversation about how the child can become a better writer.
  • In conferences, we pursue lines of thinking with students.
    • Develop thinking about specific subject; may be grounded in first part of conversation; should be an area for potential growth.
      • Multiple possibilities; may come from previous knowledge of student, whole-class teaching, etc.
  • Roles
    • Student begins in lead role, setting agenda
      Teacher assumes lead–asking about pla, giving feedback, teaching strategy/technique
  • Show care
    • interested in subject–but more so, student
    • It’s not just about meeting standards and test scores
    • Listen
    • Affirm