Once again, it is time for peer-critiquing. (If you care to read my thoughts on the matter you may do so in my peer-critiquing lesson from the previous unit, "How to Peer-Critique Properly" for the Memory Narrative.
For this time through in my course, I am taking a "looser" approach, that is I do not have a prescriptive set-up, despite the fact that I build a case for one in the previous unit. I want to see just how informative each "peer" can be to each "writer" with a more "global" approach -- that is an approach to The Editorial as an example of writing first and specific opinionated writing second. (By the way, I am forever trying different amounts of prescriptive instruction just to see how well students can "think for themselves." ... Once these essays are "in the gradebook" I will know more.)
Students may be more able to help one another without an overt structure for doing so. Time will tell ...
I’ve created a Google Doc of questions that each student uses for his/her critique of a fellow student.
First, I make sure students are sitting with a randomly assigned partner (my preferred method for this is playing-card-matches with each student finding his/her partner by matching cards -- 2-2, 5-5, K-K, and so on). Then, I have every student click to my Google Doc of critiquing questions.
With the questions on workstation screens across the classroom/lab, I give these instructions:
A. Read the essay through once and in Google Docs mark anything that makes you pause: poor grammar, misspelled/misused words, poor punctuation, too long or confusing or boring sentences … note anything, anything at all that makes you stop reading -- that’s your test, when you stop reading
B. Now, read the essay a second time and answer these questions as you read. Add comments to your copy as appropriate to assist …
I emphasize that the comments for both A and B (above) belong in the margins of the Google Doc draft from writers; reader-peers are to mark the text electronically for future editing on the part of writer-peers.
I give students several good minutes to complete A. and B.
Depending on how long it takes the class to read (part A, above) and mark (part B, above), you will be able to gauge the length of time for this activity. On the first day, I had 20+ in each section of my three classes finish in about 20 min. I did provide a few “free” minutes on the following day to make certain everyone had completed the question set. It’s important for the final revision that everyone have rich enough feedback from partners!