Reflection: Trust and Respect Write Like London: Peer Editing Workshop - Section 2: Peer Editing I: Bring out the Highlighters!


Every English teacher I know hates/struggles with/avoids peer editing.  I mean, really. A lot.  We all read Nancie Atwell when we are in teacher training, and we envision this reflective, dynamic writing workshop wherein kids write and critique and grow, grow, grow.  Then, reality happens.

You develop what you think is a great prompt or assignment.  Your kids write.  Then, you ask them to share what they have read with a partner.  You ask the partner to give some feedback and she writes, in all seriousness... "It was good." (Wah-wah-wahhhhhh.)  And you wonder why you ever thought this was a good idea.

But it's hard to get students to give meaningful feedback.  And it's even harder to orchestrate a relationship between two 13-year olds wherein criticism (constructive or not) might be involved.  So what have I learned over the years? 

It's a bit of work to construct a "safe space" wherein kids can work together.  Give a lot of directions, so everyone feels like editing is a job.  Set up a lot of parameters and give time limits (Ten minutes to come up with three comments!)  Coach students using phrases like, "Respect the writer."  Question their choices (What do you think it needs here?  And how would you do that, if it were your paper?") and remind them that a peer editor's job is to make suggestions. The writer does not have to take them (but if the editor is a good speller or has a better vocabulary than you do, just be grateful.)

So maybe my classroom will never look like Nancie Atwell's.  But today's peer editing session felt good and productive, which is definite improvement.


  Peer Editing? Gross!
  Trust and Respect: Peer Editing? Gross!
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Write Like London: Peer Editing Workshop

Unit 4: Nature, Naturalism, and The Call of the Wild
Lesson 5 of 14

Objective: SWBAT demonstrate an understanding of the roles that characterization, conflict, setting and mood play in the development of a story.

Big Idea: Writing and editing provide avenues into the reading and analysis of literature.

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