When students view writing as a mode of communicating with their peers in an environment free from negative judgment, they can make real strides toward measurable academic goals. Making my classroom a safe space in which to talk about our writing, using clear protocols to guide student discussions, and modeling these protocols myself in diagnostic feedback and conferencing, I have been able to help students become better resources for one another and, ultimately, develop their abilities to reflect and self-assess. Rather than directing students to act as teachers, I have steered students away from traditional proofreading and asked them to focus their attention on ensuring clarity of purpose: students read each others’ work looking for main ideas, evidence, and progress toward student-created specific goals. This allows all types of writers to be able to provide valuable feedback to their peers. My students have learned to look forward to the opportunity to give and receive timely, in depth, and qualitative critique that they can apply to their work immediately. In this session, I will share protocols I have created, and my successes and failures along the way to cultivating a safe classroom space in which peer-to-peer conferencing is both meaningful and useful. I’ll also show participants how I have adjusted my grading process to foster student interdependence and reward them for thoughtfully engaging with one another and reflecting on their own learning processes.
There are so many ways to provide feedback, conduct meaningful conferences, and provide students the opportunity to assess their own work as well as the work of their peers. In this conversation we will all share our current practices/problems around delivering written feedback. I will then describe my practice, share various artifacts, answer questions, and help teachers plan how they might use this or similar protocols in their own classrooms. Workshop participants will leave with meaningful tools and resources to implement successful peer conferences in their own classrooms.