January 2022

Do my students need to peer review?

Do my students need to peer review?

 

In short, yes. And the answer to your next question can be found in the rest of this all-too-brief, digestible, 5-minute-read blog. 

Why should your students participate in peer review? Why is it important? 

Research shows that peer-reviewing helps students become better writers. The skills that it builds in them can significantly improve their writing and reading. But it does take prep work, time, and lots of practice before they really start reaping the benefits. 

First things first. Students need to understand what revision is, what the purpose is, and what effective revision looks like. Many times, they don't really know what it means to revise so they settle with simply editing. But revision is one of the most important parts of the writing process and helps authors effectively communicate with their readers. Even if they do know that revision is bigger than surface-level edits, they may not know how to read their writing to evaluate it and point out any problems.  So start with the old "I do, we do, you do" approach and walk your students through how to critically read an essay. 

We have a great resource on how to effectively model reading for review here. Students need clear expectations and lots of practice to learn how to conduct useful peer reviews. The better they are with reviewing the writing of others, the more prepared they'll be to revise their own work. 

One of the most impactful benefits of peer review is learning how to address the audience. As a reviewer, student writers become the reader. They are better able to understand the perspective and needs of the reader, developing a sense of audience, and gain experience detecting and diagnosing problems that they may not be able to do in their own writing yet. Something that many young writers have difficulty with while reading their own work is reading what they meant to write, whereas when they are reading essays written by others will help them learn how to read what the text says and not an inferred meaning. Becoming the audience gives students an "in their shoes" experience that they can then take into account when they write their next piece. 

After reading an essay written by a peer, students will give the authors feedback. But to go beyond the basic and superficial "It was good" or "I don't like this" comments that students tend to stick to will take practice and support from you. Knowing exactly what to look for and having explicit guidelines will give students direction. The act of leaving constructive and helpful feedback can be beneficial for both the receiver of feedback and the one who left the comments. At this point, the reviewer has read, evaluated, and left helpful feedback on someone else's writing. These ideas are now something they can then take to improve their own writing. 

Once they have been the audience, student writers have a better understanding of how to read their own work as a reader instead of the author. They have an idea of what the audience needs, and have received comments and suggestions to help them clarify, expand upon, and streamline their ideas. This is when true revision will happen. But this isn't the end. To allow maximum room for growth and understanding, open some time and space for whole-class or small-group discussions where students can reflect on the process of evaluation and revision, the challenges they face, and possible solutions to the challenges. 

So yes. Your students do need peer review. Peer review done right takes time and practice. Peer review done well provides so much support and so many benefits for your students. If you need any help with how to get started in your class, let us know! MI Write makes it easy for you while challenging and supporting your students. 

 

Sources: 
Philippakos, Z. A. (2017). Giving Feedback: Preparing Students for Peer Review and Self-Evaluation. The Reading Teacher, 71(1), 13-22. 
Cho, K., & MacArthur, C. (2011). Learning by Reviewing. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103(1), 73-84 

5 Things You Should Do to Kick 2022 Off Right

5 Things You Should Do to Kick 2022 Off Right


We're not denying the value of reflection. As educators, we understand how important it is to think back and see what worked and where we need to pivot. However, you can't move forward if you're not at least looking in that direction! So yes, take a glance over the last year, but don't forget to turn back around. Think about driving your car. Sometimes it's necessary to reverse (back out of your driveway or a parking spot), but it's much quicker to get where you're going if you drive forward. 

So how do you look forward into 2022 as a Year-in-Preview? 

  • Set goals! To clarify, goals are not resolutions. We don't do "New Year's Resolutions" because everyone knows that they never last! Work goals, fitness/health goals, reading goals, personal goals, basketball goals (maybe not that last one, unless that's your thing. In which case, GO FOR IT)! Make small goals. Make big LOFTY goals for the year. They don't all have to be SMART goals. You have our permission to dream BIG. Some of these bigger goals may come with smaller steps you have to take before getting there. Include those benchmarks too in your plans for 2022.
     Calendar with goals

  • Plan vacations - big, family trips or a weekend with your friends... or spa days, golf days, pool days, whatever you need to rest and recharge. Put it on the calendar! Make time for yourself this year. 

  • Professional development – continue to learn and build your craft. Add to your toolbox. Learn a new skill. Develop a new activity, lesson, unit. 

  • Any big life changes on the horizon? Getting married? Having a baby? Adopting a pet? Moving across town, across the state, the country, or the world? Renovating your home? These are all exciting things to look forward to. 
    Big changes this year

  • Make a vision board (or five)! Make your goals and plans visual and hang it up somewhere you will see it every day. Where do you see yourself going professionally? Personally? In your family and friend relationships? If you don't have a vision, you won't have a direction or a purpose in the big picture of life.  

What if you can't reach that goal by December 31st?  Some things just take a little longer, and that's okay. That's why this isn't about New Year's Resolutions. This is a jumping-off point from where you are right now to get you where you want to go, or at least pointed in the right direction. Start with this year and see where you end up. Then, when you're sitting down at the end of December, thinking about your year-in-review, compare notes. How many goals did you crush? How much closer are you to this dream or that idea? We bet you'll feel a great sense of accomplishment, and who doesn't want that?