Peer conferencing, also known as peer review or peer response, is the process of students reading and responding to the writing of their classmates. The primary goal is for students to work collaboratively to improve their writing.
Peer conferences can be used at any stage of writing but are most commonly associated with revising and editing, as these processes benefit from systematic feedback from others, including peers. When students confer, their writing becomes more “reader based” because they take into consideration the needs of the reader as they review and respond to one another’s writing.
For students to effectively confer and work together to improve their writing, teachers need to provide explicit instruction in peer conferencing procedures and reviewer etiquette. This does not just involve placing students into groups and telling them to read and respond to one another's writing. Instead, teachers model and explain how the peer conferencing process works and how to respond appropriately (provide constructive feedback). Then, teachers provide ongoing monitoring and coaching as students begin to work with their peers.
Locate and read the General Guidelines for Teaching Peer Conferencing handout.
The basic response or feedback protocol on page 2 of the handout helps students share meaningful feedback during peer conferences. To be able to provide these three types of feedback, students have to first carefully read and review their peers' writing—noticing strengths and areas in need of improvement.
When you are ready, click play on the video below.
Locate Handout 29: Peer Conferencing Tool for Expository Essays and Handout 17: The Whole Family Under One Roof?
Select and carefully read one of the expository essays on Handout 17. Then, complete the peer conferencing tool on Handout 29 for that essay.
When you finish, return to the General Guidelines for Teaching Peer Conferencing handout and review the sample basic response or feedback protocol—praise, question, and polish—on page 2.
Then, use your peer conferencing tool to locate one part of the essay to address for each of the three steps in the strategy. Label each part: Praise, Question, and Polish.
Next, write a single sentence stem in the margin. This will model for students how to give each type of feedback.
We also have provided two other peer conferencing tools for you to use with your students, Handout 41: Peer Conferencing Tool for Personal Narratives and the Peer Conferencing Tool for Persuasive Writing handout. Locate and review those now.
Using a set of critiquing guidelines like the peer conferencing tools as students read and review writing scaffolds the process and helps students focus on specific aspects as they prepare for a peer conference.