Last week my mom and I exchanged our current manuscripts. The intent? To garner feedback which will ultimately improve our work. When we allow someone to read our work in progress, their fresh eyes notice different things and come to the writing with a different perspective.
To emulate this experience in my classroom, I establish writing groups with my students. What are they? Very simply, small groups of students (ideally four per group) who share their writing and provide feedback to each other. Students as young as grade one learn to comment on the craft of their fellow writers!
Although this concept of sharing effective feedback is difficult for students at first, once they learn how to provide (and receive) feedback, the literate conversations that occur can be somewhat surprising to teachers who have not witnessed them before.
How do we teach our students to give feedback? The mini-lessons we teach on specific skills become the basis for the conversations within the writing groups. It doesn’t matter if the mini-lesson is on word choice, dialogue, or a particular plot pattern, whatever it is, we teach our students to notice and comment on this skill or strategy within the writing.
Still skeptical? Watch this video of Austin’s Butterfly to witness the power of student feedback. The video may be about a scientific drawing, but the same premise applies!