Peer Editing the Rhetorical Analysis Essay

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SWBAT evaluate peer essays in terms of effective organization of building of a topic, use of relevant evidence and logic, and strong command of objective language.

Big Idea

Writing doesn't have to be lonely; feedback from peers is an important part of the process.


Peer Edit Introduction

20 minutes

Last class we spent a good deal of time discussing the introduction, and I taught students to look for reference to all parts of the rhetorical situation (SOAPStone) as well as “how” the writer gets her main topic across to the readers.  Today students will begin by peer editing each other’s introduction, annotating for all the specific elements and the “how.”  I don’t think the introduction can be under-emphasized, not only from the point of view of influencing the audience, but also for the writing process.  If students spend a lot of time thinking about the introduction and what goes into it, they can’t help but also think about the piece as a whole, and by doing that deepen their thinking regarding how they will build their topic.  It essentially provides a road map for the rest of the piece.

The instructions they will be given are as follows:

1.  Read your partner’s introduction and identify (highlight, underline, annotate) where the writer references all elements of the rhetorical situation (SOAPStone) and HOW the writer appeals to the audience about the topic.

2.  Explain your analysis of each element and “how” to the writer, including where there are gaps.  Be specific!

I may show them the sample analysis I did yesterday as a model if they have a lot of questions, although I am presuming they will not, since we spent a good deal of time on it last class and I got the sense from working with them individually during the workshop portion that they had a handle on it.

Two Stars and a Wish: Peer Editing the Essay

55 minutes

While I think peer editing is important, I don’t know that it is that productive without a structured process—without providing some guidance, the feedback inevitably becomes “this was good.”  Students simply don’t have the experience to determine what to provide feedback about, and they are a little uncomfortable giving it anyway.  So this kind of structured peer-editing model gives students some tools to work with to really help their peers, and also to learn about their own writing, since part of the reason to do peer editing is for students to learn from each other as they read.


The “Two Stars and a Wish” model is adapted from a wonderful book on teaching poetry by Baron Wormser called A Surge of Language:  Teaching Poetry Day by Day The activity, and in fact the title itself, emphasized the positive and makes critical feedback seem, well, less critical.

Here are the instructions students will receive (I will write these on the board and model as I go through them):


1.  Read your partner's rough draft carefully TWICE (this continues to emphasize that close reading usually requires a second read to be done effectively).

            -while reading, pay particular attention to the following:

  • evidence--use of relevant, specific evidence to support main idea in a logical manner.
  • syntax--use of sentence structures to develop objective, fluid prose.
  • organization--how the main idea builds throughout the essay.

2.  For EACH of the above areas, identify two passages that you would give a "star" to and one passage where you "wish" something had been written differently, added, subtracted, had different word choices, etc.

3.  Share your thoughts with your partner.  Be sure to point to SPECIFIC passages as part of your explanation. (I will give them the option to do one complete paper at a time or bounce back and forth).


As students do this, I will listen in on conversations and interject if I want to clarify something, second the “star,” and I will also take questions.  Additionally, I can get a good sense of who put a lot of time into the draft, and who is a bit behind—the ones who go through this rapidly generally didn’t do as much, and therefore have little to talk about.  So this also gives me a chance to talk to them individually.


Next steps—students will write a second draft based on the peer review.  I will also give some general feedback—to focus on specific evidence and logical progression, as well as transitions and general clarity.  Students will hand this draft in to me tomorrow (at the beginning of class I will schedule each student with a time to meet with me later this week to go over their paper one-on-one before they complete a final draft).