Creative Writing Workshop, Teaching

Creative Writing Workshop Week 5/6: Peer Reviews

English teachers ’round the world almost always incorporate some kind of peer review in their curriculum when they assign a major assignment. In theory, peer review is an easy, effective way for students to get a lot of feedback on their work and make changes before writing their final draft.

The drawback to peer reviews, however, is that they can be fairly useless if done inefficiently.  My first year teaching I had students pass rough drafts to the person next to them, take out a colored writing utensil, and go to town.  In my mind, this would result in a paper covered in colorful corrections and suggestions.  In reality, most kids read the work and wrote something like, “It’s good” at the end.  Hardly useful.

My wonderful teaching mentor would use the “Two Stars and a Wish” strategy, and over the years I have adopted the same idea.  Each assignment was different, but I would usually have students focus on “one” thing (mechanics, sentence structure, etc.) for their review, and write two things the author did well and one thing they need to work on.

For my creative writers, peer review gets the same treatment.  The nice thing, though, is that these young kids are so focused and mature, and each of them fell right into the “workshop” aspect of our group.  Each student got a page full of great comments and suggestions!

two stars and a wish

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