Friday, February 12, 2016

Peer Conferencing Gone Google

Chris Carey's 7th grade language arts students are learning a new way to hold peer conferences and no talking is involved! Peer conferences going on in an almost silent classroom? Yup, that's exactly what I saw in Mr. Carey's classroom. The process goes something like this. The kids write drafts of short stories in Google Docs. They then share their stories with their peers who use the "commenting" feature built into Google Docs to leave feedback on specific parts of the writing. For instance, if the author has written a powerful intro sentence that successfully draws the reading into the story, the person reviewing can highlight the sentence and right in the margin, leave the author some purposeful feedback regarding that sentence. Or they could spot a grammatical mistake and offer suggestions for corrections. This process of reviewing another's work with focus on giving constructive, meaningful feedback is incredibly rich and offers students the opportunity to practice and hone valuable communication and critical thinking skills that will be useful throughout their lives. For the reviewer, they must apply what they've learned about the writing process, think critically about what they are reading and communicate clearly with the author to help him/her reflect upon the writing. For the author, this sort of authentic feedback challenges them to grow their skills, to reflect on their work and to be open to the ideas of others as they relate to their work. It also encourages them to refine their communication skills as they dialogue with their partner. In life, we are all givers and receivers of feedback and Mr. Carey's activity is going to help his students tremendously as they develop their writing and communication skills as well as covering some of the key ISTE Standards for Students.

Mr. Carey's Classroom at Berry Middle School

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