Getting Feedback Using Writers Circles

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SWBAT revise their debate notes by participating in a writers circle.

Big Idea

Don't put your writing in a box, come to the circle!

Lesson Opener

5 minutes

In my lesson openers I always have a "connect" in which I connect students' thinking about yesterday's lesson to today's lesson. I then have a "teach" in which I model for students the lesson of the day and also have them try it out. When I think about my modeling, I use three categories; skill, strategy, and process. I model by stating the skill to the students, then giving them a strategy in which to use the skill, followed by the process to try out the strategy.

Connect:  I will say, “Yesterday we focused on great introductions and conclusions. Today we are going to share the draft of our debate notes so far and get feedback from our peers.”  

Teach: I will say, “In order get feedback from my peers, I am going to practice the skill of listening to my peers for examples, sharing my own examples and reflecting how I can change my notes. I am going to use the strategy of participating in a Writers Circle. The process I will use is as follows:

1) Share my example when it is my turn

2) Listen to feedback from my peers

3) Jot notes in order to reflect

I will show the students of a model how the Writers Circle will work. I will tell them the Writers Circle Guidelines. I will show them with either other adults that are in the room, or video tape an example before class which I can show to the students or with three other students. I will read my introduction, then the other people in my group will give me feedback. We will use the protocol of “wows” and “wonders.” 

Active Engagement

5 minutes

Active Engagement: I will read them my first main point note card, then will say, “Turn and tell the person next to you a “wow” or “wonder” you could give me for feedback. I will ask at least three levels of learners. (at least 3 students-one who is at standard, one is approaching standard, and one who is above standard).

Closing of Active Engagement: I will say, “Remember in order to get feedback their peers and to reflect on their own notes, great debaters listen to their peers for examples, sharing their own examples and reflecting they can revise or edit their notes. They use the strategy of participating in a Writers Circle by sharing their examples, listen to feedback from peer and jot notes in order to reflect.

Group Work

30 minutes

Group Work: The student groups will be pre-planned. I will project the student groups on the screen and my direction to students will sound something like this, “You have 30 seconds to get into your groups and start, decide who will be the first one to share their introduction. Problem solve how to get this done.”

I will guide them through the first round as a group. I will say, “The person who has an introduction how has one minute to share (I will give them 30 seconds). Now each person in the group gives either a "wow" or a "wonder." It should sound something like, "Wow, I liked how you....or I wonder if you could...(I will give them about 5 minutes for this as I help monitor the groups. Now everyone is going to revise their introductions (I will give them about 5 minutes for this).” As they are working independently and quietly, I will confer with them about their writing.

Here is further explanation of how I conducted the circles.


5 minutes

believe that the end of the lesson should be an assessment of the days’ learning; therefore it should be independent work. I always end class with an “exit ticket” in which students write down the response to a question.

Closing: I will ask, “What is one piece of helpful feedback you received from the Writers Circle today? What changes did you make on your debate notes?”