To see this part of the lesson unfold, watch: Classroom Video: Connection to Prior Knowledge
I start by explaining the purpose of the lesson. I say that today, students will be receiving feedback on their narrative drafts from one of their peers. The goal is that everyone will walk away from their peer conference with at least one concrete way to improve their draft, as we move toward the final product.
Then I tell the kids that one piece of important feedback they'll be giving their peers is a compliment, because we want to boost the confidence of all the writers in this classroom. We all have such unique voices and important things to say, so we want to celebrate those voices by giving a specific compliment having to do with our partner's writing.
However, we also want to improve as writers. In order to improve as writers, we must come up with concrete suggestions for improvement. In order to do this in a respectful way so we don't overwhelm the writer, I am going to introduce a few ways in which to give feedback.
1. Adding in information. Is there a section of their narrative that seems to lack description or detail, where the writer is simply glazing over something that seems very important. Do you crave detail and description anywhere? Does the writer need to slow down this moment? Ask them to add in some detail.
2. Taking away information. Is there a section in your partner's narrative that seems to drag? Do you wish they would just cut to the chase? Make a suggestion for them to cut out a few sentences.
3. Clearing up confusion. As your partner was reading to you, were you confused at any point in the narrative? Give a concrete suggestion as how to clarify this section. What confused you? Could the author add a word of phrase to build clarity?
There is of course overlap in these types of feedback, which is to be expected. They are not black and white, there is gray area.
To see this part of the lesson unfold, watch: Classroom Video: Modeling
For this lesson, you will need a working draft of your own narrative writing. This could be a narrative students are familiar with or a new narrative they've never seen before. I've tried this lesson with both and both are effective. Explain that you are going to model a way in which to give effective feedback, but you'll need a volunteer.
Choose someone who you are confident feels comfortable speaking clearly in front of the class. Also, someone who will be able to five effective and constructive feedback on the fly. Let this person know they will be responsible for giving you feedback (one specific compliment and one way to improve).
Then you will read your writing aloud to the class. Have your volunteer come to the front and read along with you as you read aloud. Sometimes I point this out to the class, "I love how _____________________ is reading along with me. We're at the same eye level and she/he is engaged in my writing." It is important that the author reads their piece aloud to the person giving feedback. We want the author's voice behind their own writing.
Then ask for a certain type of feedback. After the student gives the feedback thank them and say you'll keep that in mind. You could also write it down on a peer feedback sheet, depending on your classes attention span.
Here is an idea of what your draft should like like after it has gone through after modeling revision.
To see this part of the lesson unfold, watch: Classroom Video: Trust and Respect
Next, I give the kids their partners and explain they'll be having similar conversations with one another, as well as filling out the Narrative Feedback Form. I strategically pair kids based on how I feel their partner could be most beneficial in helping them rewrite. For example, if one student has a very successful lead, I'll partner them with a student who struggled constructing a lead. Perhaps they have strong dialogue. These two become ideal partners because they can easily give feedback based on their skill set.
As students work, I remind them that they should be having conversations. I often interrupt students writing to ask if they've discussed prior to filling out their paper work. This fosters critical social interaction between peers.
To see this part of the lesson unfold, watch: Classroom Video: Checks for Understanding
After the meetings are complete, notify the kids that they will find one sentence in their partner's work that stood out as particularly descriptive. These sentences should stand alone. Have them write them on sentence strips in marker.
If there is time at the end, I had partners read each others' sentences to the class and give a brief explanation of what drew them to the sentence they decided to "stalk."