I begin today with a checking for and collection of my students' essay rough drafts, which were begun in the previous lesson and completed for homework. My students had the option of completing their essay on the template we worked from yesterday, or, if preferred, of rewriting their draft on a separate sheet of paper (page one, page two). My students were also told that they would not be eligible for a peer response group if their drafts were not the minimum required five paragraphs.
The bulk of the period today is devoted to peer response of my students' rough drafts of their theme essays. I distribute a peer response form to each student and review the expectations of the form with them:
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I remind them that while they are responsible for addressing each question on the form, they should also make any mechanical or grammatical corrections on the peer drafts themselves, should they spot any errors that they are confident about fixing. These types of corrections are never a requirement on my peer response forms, as explained in this lesson, but always allow students to edit and correct directly on their peers' drafts, if they feel so inclined. If this sparks any confusion, then my students know to consult me during their workshop, which often happens.
Having collected their drafts, I arrange them in sets of three, strategically grouping my stronger writers with writers who tend to struggle. As I call out the groupings, I hand the set of three papers to one group member, and when all groups have been assigned, I give my students one minute to assemble in their groups and to get started.
As the student groups get under way, I then address any students who are without rough drafts to workshop, whether they need help or simply a fire lit under them to get it done. I always make it clear to my students that my first priority is to address those who are ready to workshop, and that those who are without drafts to workshop must patiently wait for my attention, should that be what they are seeking. I have made this a rule, based on those certain students who always want to monopolize my attention for help on workshop days, and usually (though not always) because they have not been productive up to this point.
Once I have each student sufficiently working, I am able to circulate and check in with the peer response groups, addressing any questions or concerns. My students know that I will be on my feet, moving from group to group, which helps them stay on task.
Most of the time when my students perform peer response in class, they are unable to complete the process in one class session. Thus, within the final five-ten minutes left of class, I check in with each group, to determine where they are in the process. If most need more time to finish, then I will find a window somewhere within the next two class sessions for them to complete the work.
I do not mind when this happens, for it generally means that my students have been engaged and hopefully effective in reviewing and responding to the work of their peers.