Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Secondary/College Topic: Guidelines for Writing Groups

10-second review: Author developed a set of guidelines for participation in small-group (four or five students) discussion of student papers.

Title: “Improving Students’ Responses to Their Peers’ Essays.” N. Grimm. College Composition and Communication (February 1986), 91-94. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary. Guidelines for Writing Groups:

Always begin by having the writer read his or her piece aloud while you follow along on your copy, marking places you want to discuss.

Allow for silence after the oral reading. Give people time to formulate their response.

Begin discussion by encouraging the writer to ask questions about what he or she wants responses to—what she is not satisfied with or where he had difficulty.

Ask the writer questions. These questions may be to elicit more detail, to see why the author made certain choices, to clarify the writer’s intention.

Elaborate on one another’s responses.

Point to specific parts that seemed strong to you.

Guidelines for writers: Take notes on peers’ responses. Decide what changes you want to make. Restrict your defense. Listen to your readers and ask them questions.

Comment: So many times I observed peer response groups that had no such guidelines. The result was usually a waste of time. These guidelines are likely to be productive for the student writer. RayS.

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