Teaching peer review of writing

Written project:

Peer-reviewing (also called peer-editing) means people getting together to read, comment on, and recommend improvements on each other’s work. Peer-reviewing is a good way to become a better writer because it provides experience in looking critically at writing. (online technical writing). Students find peer review valuable, but good peer review, however, does not happen automatically. You can help your students become good peer reviewers by drawing on your own experiences, teaching them what to look for, and creating peer review opportunities in your classrooms. One particularly effective way to guide them is by developing and using feedback forms. (the university of Hawaii)

Pre- review activity:

When you prepare you document to be reviewed it is a good idea to have some questions you want answered.

  • If there are areas where you are struggling, explain what is difficult for you and where you might need some help. Ask for advice concerning specific areas of the paper
  • Share your paper on a Google doc and send the link with permission to edit to a student in class and your teacher

Review activity:

  1. Identify values in the paper – give positive feedback
  2. Describe the paper – explain the main ideas of the paper and how it is organized
  3. Ask questions about the paper – be explicit about what you see as problems, use sentences like: why did you write this…..
  4. Suggest points to revise – give suggestions for improving the paper.
  5. Write your response on the Google document.

Written or spoken response?

Writing it down gives reader the time to reflect on the paper and give an appropriate response. Verbal feedback gives more room for new ideas and flexibility. Remember these points to comment on:

  • Interest level, adaptation to audience
  • Persuasiveness, purpose
  • Content, organization
  • Clarity of discussion
  • Coherence, use transition
  • Title, introduction, and conclusion.
  • Sentence style and clarity
  • Handling of graphics

Peer review activity

  1. Allow some time for the writer to read the review before taking time to talk and explain.
  2. Discuss your findings in relation to this Rubric written project
  3. You might take time to practice with your students too before the next peer review activity.

Teaching Students How to Respond

Even with a criterie grid or a Sample 2 open ended feedback form in hand, students will not necessarily know how to respond to peer drafts. Most students need to be taught how to give constructive, useful feedback. One approach:

  1. Hand out copies of a sample completed assignment (perhaps written by a student in the previous semester).
  2. Discuss the criteria on the feedback form so that the language becomes meaningful to everyone.
  3. Show how you would apply the criteria by “thinking out loud” as you read the first paragraph of the paper.
  4. Ask students to read the paper and complete the feedback form (alternatively, they can complete the form out of class).
  5. Discuss the responses as a class.

Source: Richard M. Chisholm.

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  1. Great topic. My 5th graders spent a great deal of time doing this last week. Most of their bigger pieces go through three reviews:

    1. Google doc comments by me and their writing buddy. This first set of comments is about what we like and what we wonder.
    2. A meeting with their book club (literature circle). Writers come with at least one question – just like you suggested. In the context of realistic fiction stories, I asked the members of the group to discuss what they thought was the message behind the story. “Your story is about a girl who… But I think the story is _really_ about friendship/loss/family…” Then, the writer could decide whether or not his/her true message was being communicated effectively.
    3. At least two students work with the writer to edit for punctuation, sentence structure, and such.

    The thing I like most about the Google doc comments is that I learn as much about the commenter as I learn about the author.

    Janet | expateducator.com

    1. Thanks for the comment Janet! We actually ended the this with them sending a twitter message to their writing buddy with a complement, including my twitter name. That way I got to read all of it. We didn’t use the Google docs, they just exchanged pcs. I think Google docs is a better idea!

      1. Google docs are great. The list of shared docs can be a bit overwhelming – and filing the docs is still a bit of a “clunky” process.

        The biggest advantage to 5th grade google docs is the automatic “save” feature.

        I’ve wanted to work with Twitter – I’m just a bit worries about using it with 10-year-olds. Perhaps I’m waiting for someone to make a kid-friendly twitter-like platform :).

        Janet | expateducator.com

  2. hello
    I am an MA student of TEFL.nowadays I am working on the challenges that EFL/ ESL teachers faced with when they use blog in their classes, esp writing class.for doing this research I need to interview with teachers who use blog.
    can you please mention some of the challenges that you face with when you use blog in your classes? or mention disadvantages of using blog in EFL/ ESL writing’s class or any other class.

    please send your response to my email address:

    with the best regard

I would love to hear from you