Peer editing is a useful tool, but sometimes it doesn't seem to work as well as it should. Students get together to edit each other's rough drafts, and in two minutes, they tell you they are finished. We need to provide instruction on peer editing and supervised practice.
The editing part of the writing process can often be tedious for students, especially those who have trouble spelling or remembering grammar and capitalization rules. It is difficult for teachers to edit every rough draft in a timely manner before it is published, so we often use peer editing as an alternative. How can we teach students to be better at peer editing rough drafts?
Here is a lesson plan on peer editing:
- With an overhead projector or Smart board, display a piece of writing with mistakes. Make some mistakes obvious for your grade level and make some more difficult to find.
If you use a peer editing checklist with your students during the writing process, then pass out a copy to each student.
- As a whole class, they will peer edit the displayed writing. You are providing guidance. As students find a mistake, they will come up to the front of the room and fix the mistake, using editing symbols. They will also explain why they think it is a mistake and how they fixed it.
- The next day, display a different rough draft that is ready for the editing stage in the writing process. Pass out the peer editing checklists. Pair students, ask them to find mistakes together, and discuss how to fix the mistakes. Call on volunteers to come up and fix mistakes as you did in the previous day's lesson plan.
- On the third day, pass out a sample rough draft with mistakes to each pair of students. Ask students to peer edit the rough draft together and use editing marks to fix mistakes.
Supervised Peer Editing
Peer editing is a difficult skill for students to learn. As adults, it is difficult for us to edit ourselves and our peers, so imagine how difficult it is for children. Keep this in mind when teaching your students peer editing skills.
After you have provided instruction in peer editing, you will want to supervise students in action. This is sometimes difficult to do during writers' workshop since most students are working at a different pace or on a different step in the writing process than others. When students are learning the skills, you can collect rough drafts, ready for peer editing, for a few days, so you have a group of students peer editing at the same time. Put these students into pairs.
Observe each pair closely as they edit each other's work. Remind students of the lesson plan where you instructed them on peer editing if you see any pairs having trouble following the checklist, finding mistakes, or correcting errors. You can gently guide students into being good peer editors if you watch a small group closely and provide instruction as they are in the process of helping each other with their rough drafts.