Today's lesson takes time. In order to speed up our process and allow for more revision, I ask students to gather needed materials and set up the room as a Do Now today.
Students first gather their essay rough drafts and a writing utensil. I ask them to clear everything else away from desks to avoid clutter and distraction.
Next, students rearrange the room so that our desks form a large circle. Even students who are not fully prepared join the circle:
Teachers often complain that peer revision is just not effective--students either don't take the activity seriously or don't have the skills necessary to offer actionable feedback for their peers.
Determined to bust these myths, my early attempts at peer revision in my classroom were very structured. Students received detailed packets with questions which asked them identify the claim, evidence, and details in their partner's essay and evaluate the elements for specific criteria. I even required students to get two of these packets completed for their essay in an attempt to gather more effective feedback. While these packets did, to some extent, get actionable feedback for student use, students HATED completing them because of the extensive time they took. They also "overlooked" some of the advice, perhaps by choice, perhaps because it wasn't written directly on the draft. I had not yet arrived at a viable solution to the problem.
Then came the threaded revision. Inspired by a threaded discussion of a text I watched on the Teaching Channel, I created an approach to revision which garnered feedback from multiple students in the classroom.
With my students sitting in a large circle, rough drafts and writing utensils at hand, I first ask them to write 3 specific questions for their reviewers. What 3 elements of their essay are they most concerned about? Students write a variety of questions:
After students write their questions, I explain how our threaded revision will work. Students will pass their essays to the right when I ask them to. When a new essay arrives in front of them, they will read the essay and the questions and then offer feedback. I encourage students to answer the questions on the essay, but I also give them a chart (included in resources) with other elements to evaluate. They must give at least one tip to each author, more as time allows. They may also correct any grammatical errors they see.
With directions given, we begin. I give students 4 to 5 minutes per essay, tending toward 5 as more students comment (later reviewers need to check comments already made to avoid repetition).
In 40 minutes, we are able to get in 6 to 7 reviews. Students' essays are covered with feedback.