Reading Film Pre-Draft: Peer Response Groups (for longer essays)

            Peer Response Groups [for longer essays/assignments]           

I assume:

  • You have a draft worth spending your time on—a rough outline or messy draft won’t cut it.
  • You want your peers to read and respond to your writing.
  • You want to read and respond to your peers’ writing.
  • You believe that the more feedback you get from people, the better your writing will be.
  • You believe that the more feedback you can give to people, the more they will give to you.
  • You understand your peers are only offering suggestions about your paper, not about you.

This process lasts the whole period, and requires you to think much harder than you might on any other day. PRG is like doing “group work,” but I am going to give you a guide to help you maximize the hour you’re given. I’m NOT going to grade you, give you a hard time, collect anything, or tell you what you to do every 5 minutes. Here’s how it works:

  1. We get in groups of four people—two of whose writing you’ve never read.
  2. You pass your rough draft to the person to your left.
  3. Quickly read through the draft you are given. Do not “do” anything yet; just get a quick idea of what you are dealing with. (about 2 minutes)
  4. Pick up a pencil, and now read through more slowly. This time put a ( √ ) in the margin next to sentences or ideas (or anything else) you like, an ( X ) next to sentences or ideas (or anything else) you didn’t like, and a ( ? ) next to items that don’t make sense, might not make sense to others, or are just plain weird. These are all the markings you will make on the rough draft. To distinguish each individual reviewer’s comments, use a different color pen/pencil, or put your initials next to each mark. (about 7 minutes)
  5. Take out a separate piece of paper, and do each of the following:
    1. First tell very quickly what you found to be the main points, main feelings, or centers of gravity. Just sort of say what comes to mind for fifteen seconds, for example, “Let’s see, very sad; the death seemed to be the main event; um…but the joke she told was very prominent; lots of clothes.”
    2. Then summarize that into a single sentence.
    3. Then choose one word from the writing which best summarizes that.
    4. Then choose a word that is not in the writing which best summarizes that. Do all of this informally. Don’t plan or think too much about it. The point is to show the writer what things he or she made stand out most in your head.
  6. On yet another separate piece of paper, jot down a few comments that you want to make to the author about their paper. Specific = good, …right? (about 5 minutes)
  7. NOTE:  you should spend about 15 minutes per essay (doing steps 3-6). When everyone has finished, you pass the essay, and the piece of paper from #5, to your left. You keep the piece of paper used in #6.
  8. Lather, rinse, and repeat the process above (steps 3-6).
  9. If everything goes well, you should end up with your original essay, that has 3 separate sets of s, Xs, and ?s on it. You should also have one sheet of paper, with three separate “center of gravity” responses (#5) regarding your essay. Finally, you should have a sheet of paper that has three separate sets of notes on your peers’ papers (#6).
  10. Once your essay gets back to you, you should read the notes you have gotten from your peers, and look at the marks on your draft. (5 minutes)
  11. Next, each student should respond orally to each paper. Pick someone’s essay, then go around the circle and have everyone make at least one specific comment about the essay. This is where you use those notes you made for yourself. The original author of the essay should lead this part. Use this time to answer any confusion about the notes, to ask for clarification, or to get opinions about a specific passage. (15-20 minutes)

Instead of making these kinds of comments…

“I liked/did not like this paper.”

“It’s good the way it is.”

“I don’t think you should change anything.”

“I don’t like your topic.”

Make these:

“Your second paragraph was much stronger than your first. Consider switching them around.”

“I think the worst part of the paper is your conclusion. It doesn’t match all the other good parts of your paper.”

“I don’t think the point of your paper is very clear. Maybe you could come up with one or two sentences that say exactly what you mean.”

“I think you should spend more time talking about X and less time talking about Y.

Download: ReadingFilmPredraft_PeerResponseGroups (docx)

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