Structuring Peer Editing in the Classroom
Jun 20, 2013 Writing 2508 Views
Peer revision is a strategy that writing teachers can use to help students develop strong editing skills. It involves allowing students to edit and suggest revisions to each others' works. It is an excellent time saver for teachers, but it is only effective if students are adequately prepared for editing.
The first prerequisite of peer editing is students are prepared with a general knowledge of grammar and of proofreading marks. Grammar is an element often dropped or pushed to the back of English Language Arts curriculums due to the pressures and demands of standardized testing. Some states do not test grammar skills at all, so those skills are not made a priority in the classroom. The problem with this is students who aren't aware of grammar rules and issues usually make poor writers. Writing is a skill that is still tested and even more so now with so many states adopting the Common Core. It is very difficult to find time to teach grammar rules in a one hour class. In elementary schools, many teachers are covering all core classes (Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies). If a teacher doesn't like grammar, they won't cover it. This means a large percentage of students coming into the middle school grades, where formal writing techniques are taught, are missing a key element needed to become a proficient writer.
Students should know parts of speech, comma rules, subject/verb agreement, modifiers, and sentence variation (simple, compound, and complex structures) by the time they reach middle school, but this is almost never the case. So, in order for peer editing to be truly effective, these are grammar and structure elements that students need to at least be familiar.
Once a general understanding of grammar is established, peer editing becomes a suitable and productive option for teachers to use in the classroom. Peer editing should be very structured. If a teacher just tells students to "edit someone else's paper", there will be a wide-range of feedback for students from students. Some will mark nothing. Some will make a paper "bleed" with red ink, mimicking what they may have seen a teacher do to their own papers. In order to have productive and constructive feedback, peer editing should be structured with concrete rules and possibly editing forms depending on the age group the teacher is working with on the writing assignment. Don't forget to show students what editing marks you would like them to use as well. There are several posters of editing marks for the classroom out there that you can purchase and hang in your room, or you may choose to have a mini-lesson on the proofreading marks.
Here are some general options to consider when structuring peer editing for the classroom.
• Use the 3-3-1 method for content. This is where students list three things that were wrong with the essay, three things that were good, and one suggestion for improvement.
• Have students mark grammatical errors in green ink (or any other color) and questions regarding content in a different color.
• Have students use a checklist to peer edit. Checklist should list particular elements that the teacher wants to see in the assignment. This can be anything from sentence variation to no misspelled words. It can include various elements that the teacher may have given as a special part of the assignment like including certain vocabulary words.
• Peers should be held accountable for the editing process. Teachers may choose to give a grade for the peer edit checklists or for the edits on the paper. Some teachers may choose for this to be a grade based on completion; others may choose to grade it for accuracy.
Peer editing can be beneficial for students because it helps to instill the importance of proofreading and offers an excellent venue for practicing the skills of editing. When you decide on what structure you want to use, you should model it for the students using a sample student paper on the overhead or in a digital presentation. Talk them through it as you make your marks and write comments. This will help set expectations for the quality of peer editing you want to see.