Today we did peer conferencing in class with the narrative essays the students have been writing. Many times I’ve done peer conferences and realized after the lesson that it had absolutely no value and was a complete waste of time. The students are not teachers. Sometimes they don’t give the best advice. Sometimes they give REALLY bad advice to each other.
For example, after peer conferencing in a lesson last year, a student showed me her paper. She asked me if the word ‘I’m’ needed to be capitalized because her partner had told her that it wasn’t. Every time she had used ‘I’m’, her partner had drawn a big slash through the capital I……head slap.
And then you get the usual useless advice that students give each other like “It was good!” That doesn’t really help anyone.
I’ve been training students to give comments to each other based on the items I’ve taught them and based on the rubric provided for their narrative essays. Using Angela Stockman’s model of ‘Warm and Cool Feedback’ (see more about this here), I framed questions on an anchor chart that students will use to give feedback to each other on their essays. Examples for narrative would be:
I liked how you used ________________________ to hook the reader.
Your dialogue in (this part) of the story was great.
Could you maybe start your story with _____________________ instead?
What did you learn about life from this experience? (prompting students to come up with a theme)
These sentence frames allow students to give specific advice on the items on the rubric. Therefore when students go and make changes, the changes they make will automatically make their essay better ACCORDING to the rubric and the actual graded items.
My narrative common core rubric, as well as others can be found here.
What are your thoughts on peer conferencing? Waste of time, or worth it?