Peer Conferencing 101
Students will be able to use the peer conference format to provide feedback to a peer.
Introduction (5 minutes)
- Gather your students together for the start of the lesson.
- Explain that today they are going to practice giving and receiving feedback about their writing from a peer.
- Ask your students if they know what feedback means. Allow time for 1-2 responses. After some discussion, define feedback as the process we use to get information about something to make it better. In this case, your students' classmates will offer suggestions and ideas to help make their writing better.
- Call on student volunteers to help you define the following words: editor, edit, and revision. After hearing some of their answers, define editor as someone who checks writing for mistakes and makes edits, which means they show how to correct mistakes. Define revision as making changes.
- Explain that today, your class will be working in pairs to give each other feedback. They will do this in a peer conference.
- Take a moment and provide a definition for what a peer conference is. For example, a peer conference is when two peers (classmates or friends) come together and look carefully each person's writing and give each other feedback to make it better.
Explicit Instruction/Teacher Modeling (10 minutes)
- Explain that you will now give a "fishbowl" demonstration of a peer conference using a pre-written writing sample.
- Project the Peer Conference Checklist on the board.
- Review each step of the worksheet, asking questions and offering explanations for each section, to ensure students understand. Explain that it's important to start with compliments because it can be hard to hear suggestions to make our writing better. Starting with something positive helps us hear the suggestions as well.
- Brainstorm sentence frames that can be used to give constructive compliments, and write them on the whiteboard or on a piece of chart paper. Ideas can include: I enjoyed the part when..., You used a great word (here)..., What an interesting beginning/middle/ending, This part reminded me of... etc.
- Ask the class what kinds of suggestions might be useful to hear. Create a list of sentence frames using chart paper. Ideas might include: I wonder if you could add more details in this part..., What else could you say here?, Is there a different word you might use?, Can you add more to the beginning/middle/ending?, Tell me more about..., etc.
- Go over each editing mark and show the students how you use them by writing an example sentence with mistakes in it on the board and correcting it. Suggest that students use a pencil to make editing marks, so that they can be corrected easily and erased.
- Show the class a short pre-written piece of writing, either written on chart paper, a whiteboard or displayed on an interactive whiteboard. You can use this example or an example of your own: One there was a horse. He was a nise horse. One day the horse, Monty woke up and noticed sumone new in his field. He crept close and saw with surprise that it was a unicorn Wow, Monty thought I wonder why there is a unicorn here? He asked the unicorn, "excuse me, what is your nam?" The unicorn said, "My name is Sam and I am from never never land."
- Explain to your students that you started a story and you want some feedback.
Guided Practice/Interactive Modeling (15 minutes)
- Read the story aloud while your class reads along with you, using the same story either written on the board/chart paper or projected.
- Use the projected Peer Conference Checklist as your example.
- Fill in the beginning of the worksheet quickly with your name and the editor’s name (class) while telling the class what you're doing.
- Model step one and ask your students what compliments they have for you. Listen to a few responses and record them on your sheet.
- Move on to step two and ask your students for suggestions. Encourage your students to be specific. Record them on your sheet. You can also write suggestions on sticky notes and put directly on your story. Explain how the sticky notes can help you focus your feedback.
- During step three, ask for volunteers to come up and write the editing marks directly on your piece.
- Explain that you just received some useful feedback for your writing and can now make revisions based on the feedback.
- Go back over your writing and demonstrate how you would incorporate some of the feedback into your piece.
Independent Working Time (20 minutes)
- Project the Peer Conference Checklist that you filled out in the previous section. Pass out a worksheet and a sticky notepad to each student for them to use to give feedback to a classmate on their writing.
- Ask your students what they need to think about when participating in a peer conference. Answers might include: be specific about where the feedback goes using the sticky notes, follow the directions on the worksheet, be honest with your feedback and consider your classmate's feelings when giving them feedback.
- Pair students up randomly and ask them to trade a piece of writing (from a previous lesson) with one another.
- Explain that when they are finished, they can read through the feedback and begin to make changes in their writing, as time allows.
- Circulate around the room offering support to pairs as needed.
- Provide students who complete the worksheet and incorporate feedback into their writing with the Revision Reflection worksheet to complete.
- Advanced students can also be invited to circulate around the room and offer support to another student pair.
- For students who need additional support while working in pairs during the independent portion of the lesson, create a strategic pair and/or put three students together so that two students are completing the worksheet together.
Assessment (5 minutes)
- Collect the Peer Conference worksheets and accompanying piece of writing and assess whether students were able to provide appropriate feedback using the worksheet steps.
Review and Closing (5 minutes)
- After the independent work time has concluded, ask students to return to the rug and place their finished worksheet and piece of writing in front of them.
- Ask for a few volunteers to share out a piece of feedback they received that was helpful. Note what students did well.
- Highlight each step of the worksheet as students share to review with the whole class.
- Discuss student questions as needed.