To prepare for our threaded revision, I ask students to write 3 questions on the top of their essays. These questions should be related to standards they are concerned about in their current work. For example, students might write:
This activity requires students to give feedback to multiple papers, resulting in essays with advice from a variety of perspectives and writing abilities. It works best when well organized, including room set-up and clear rules.
I ask students to arrange the room in a large circle so that we may easily pass papers from person to person. Sometimes I also ask students to arrange themselves so that any students who are missing their papers are seated next to students who do have their papers; this prevents large gaps of inactivity as students wait for papers to arrive at their desk for revision. Today, though, I ask students who are not prepared (there are quite a few due to absences) to sit at the back of the room to silently finish their essays while the rest of the class revises.
Students must write at least one critical comment on each essay they read; they may address 1 of the questions at the top of the essay or any other standard we have studied in the unit. If they have time to write more comments, they should, and they should also correct any grammatical errors they notice.
To hold students accountable for their comments, I ask them to initial their critiques. This allows me to assess how well students can evaluate the writing of others and prevents any off-task or inappropriate comments.
While we work, students should remain silent so that everyone can focus and leave the best quality feedback possible.
Students pass their papers one person to the right. I give students 4 to 5 minutes (watch the class to see how long they need) to read the essay and write at least 1 comment. When time is "up," I instruct students to pass the essay to the right again. We go through 6-7 rounds during the class, which gives students plenty of feedback to use when they revise during our next class.
When we near the end of the hour, I ask students to pass essays back to their owner, giving them enough time to read their feedback and ask clarifying questions of me and of their peers.
One student asks, "my comments are all about adding more transitions, but I'm not sure where. Can you help?" I quickly skim the essay and comments and then remind the student that transitions should be both within (which he has) and between (which he doesn't have) paragraphs. He identifies the problem/solution on his own.
Another student wants verification that a comment about his introduction not connecting well to his conclusion makes sense (it does). I ask him how he can recycle words and ideas to make them more cohesive, and he picks up on a key word to reuse.
In a rare move, I ask students to polish their essays for homework. With multiple snow days impacting instruction time, the class is behind where I would like them as we approach standardized testing season. Small homework assignments can help us work with skills I know students will most use before it's too late.