As I guide my reluctant students through the process of writing their first expository essay on To Kill a Mockingbird, I am focusing on ways I can further scaffold my instruction. I realized that students need feedback throughout the writing process if they are going to be successful. However, with six classes and a total of 164 students it is physically impossible for me to edit each stage of the writing process. This has left me feeling frustrated in the past because peer editing never seems to yield quality results.
This year I decided to try something new – Peer Editing Online.
Instead of using class time to peer edit, I used my online discussion platform to facilitate peer editing. After providing notes on how to write an introduction paragraph complete with hook strategy and thesis statement, I asked students to write their introduction and post them online for peer review. After posting their own introduction paragraphs, students were required to provide feedback to at least three peers. I encouraged them to highlight strengths, provide suggestions for improvement, identify unclear or awkward wording, highlight missing elements, etc.
Finally, a peer editing assignment that produced some quality feedback! Students received multiple comments from a variety of peers about their introductions. Sophomores, who were in my class the previous year, were able to spot formatting errors and missing information in thesis statements. The majority of responses were specific and helpful. Students both complimented and critiqued each others’ writing.
After allowing students to provide peer feedback, I read the posted rough draft introduction paragraphs (which took much less time than going through their papers and individually editing since many of the necessary corrections had already been made). I was able to focus on correcting errors that had not been identified yet. Students also benefited from seeing my feedback to their classmates since several of them made the same errors.
I was impressed by the variety of hook strategies employed; I realized that by posting their introductions online that they were able to see other hook strategies written well. Students who used the quote strategy were able to read introductions that began with questions or a personal story.
I am hopeful that this will aid them in writing future introduction paragraphs.