At this time in the school year, I find that my students and I need to regroup and discuss the role of a peer editor in writing workshop. My students have made a lot of progress with peer editing, however, we need to regroup and talk about what is going well and what can be improved. This helps recharge and refresh everyone’s understanding of peer editing.
I started this conversation with this simple chart. I asked my students: “What’s helpful?” and “What’s not helpful?”
My students wrote their thoughts on sticky notes, and we reviewed the ideas together. As you can see in the sample sticky note, my students were eager to get some constructive criticism that would help move their writing forward. They were growing tired of receiving too many compliments and not enough feedback.
We had an open conversation about what was going well with peer editing and what needed improvement. My students acknowledged that it was hard to tell their peers the honest truth about their writing. I was proud of my students. They showed great empathy for their peers’ feelings. I knew we had to talk about ways we could make everyone feel secure about their writing, while also being helpful.
My students and I agreed that it was best to offer a “Feedback Sandwich” when doing peer edits. A Feedback Sandwich is: Compliment, Constructive Criticism, Suggestion. The “Sandwich” allows peer editors to sandwich their constructive criticism between two positive comments.
An example is: 1) Compliment- “You have a good start to your story! I like how it draws me in and I want to keep reading.”
2) Constructive Criticism- “Parts of the story move slowly and I am confused about who the characters are.”
3) Suggestions- “Perhaps you could add some dialogue and action to make it move faster? That would also make it clearer who the characters are.”
What I like about the “Feedback Sandwich” is that my students must read with a critical lens in order to find what is working, what is not, and what steps are needed. This helps them read their own writing with this same critical lens.
Hopefully this will help move my students forward with peer editing. I look forward to seeing how it goes!
Please leave me your thoughts. Is there a better way to give peer feedback?
Dana Johansen spends her time teaching fifth grade in rainy Connecticut, taking long walks in the woods with her yellow lab, and reading the False Prince series by Jennifer Nielsen. Dana was very excited to find out what was at the bottom of 10x on the show, The Curse of Oak Island, this week. She has taught elementary and middle school for fourteen years. Dana is a doctoral student at Teachers College, Columbia University where she studies blended learning in reading and writing workshop. She is the co-author of Teaching Interpretation: Using Text-Based Evidence to Construct Meaning and Flip Your Writing Workshop.