Peer review is regarded as an effective collaborative writing strategy that not only improves student writing, but also increases their understanding of the writing process. The Writing strand of Ontario’s Language curriculum has 3 (of 4) overall expectations that focus specifically on the importance of revising and editing for the writing process. For example, students are expected to:
- draft and revise their writing, using a variety of informational, literary, and graphic forms and stylistic elements appropriate for the purpose and audience;
- use editing, proofreading, and publishing skills and strategies, and knowledge of language conventions, to correct errors, refine expression, and present their work effectively;
- reflect on and identify their strengths as writers, areas for improvement, and the strategies they found most helpful at different stages in the writing process.
(Ontario Ministry of Education, 2006)
These overall expectations can be met by using an appropriate peer review process in the classroom, as students learn to edit their own work more effectively and improve their revision process for future writing.
Peer review, or peer editing, can be implemented in many different ways in the classroom. A recent article on Edutopia (2016) described two examples of the peer review process.
- Peer Review Checklist: The first strategy involves the use of a Peer Review Checklist. The students would be paired off and, using the Checklist, would provide feedback to each other about a piece of writing and discuss how the draft can be strengthened through editing.
- Kind, Specific, Helpful: The second strategy would require the teacher to tape numbered student drafts on the walls around the classroom. Students would be given sticky notes and assigned specific numbers corresponding to pieces of writing that they must review by providing one kind, one specific and one helpful piece of feedback on a sticky note. Students would spend no more than 5 minutes reviewing a piece of writing, and then the teacher would signal for a rotation to the next numbered writing piece.
During my practicum, grade 6 students used a peer editing strategy that was part of their Editor’s Checklist (see below). After reviewing and editing their own work using the checklist, students were required to ask two peers to edit their work. Each peer would use a different coloured pen or pencil to make modifications or suggestions on the student’s draft writing. The editors were also required to sign their name in the colour they used so that the teacher was aware of the origin of each edit. Along with the use of success criteria for each style of writing (e.g. persuasive, descriptive), this process of peer editing helped students to recognize common errors and encouraged them to appreciate the value of constructive feedback. It also made it clear for the teacher how well each student was editing and revising his or her own work before asking a classmate for help. In addition, this strategy provided the opportunity for students to move around the classroom as a body break!
Edutopia. (March 30 2016). Peer Review, Common Core, and ELLs.
Ontario Ministry of Education. (2006). The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8- Language.