Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Peer Review Stations + My New Name

Ahh, peer review day--the part of the writing process where students reluctantly exchange papers, pretend they are reading a peer's essay, then show off their vocabulary range by writing "good job!" on the essay they didn't read. 😉

After many failed attempts at making traditional peer review effective, I decided to try peer review in the form of stations. I now do these peer review stations with every single essay and can tell you that they work SO much better!

But before I get into explaining the stations, let me explain the new look you see on my blog. My blog, social media, and TpT names have changed from B's Book Love to Building Book LoveWhen I started my blog and store three years ago, I didn’t have a vision. Now I do. Back then, I naturally thought my content was all about me, so I put in a nod to my last name (Bible) without confusing the whole separation of church and state thing (B’s). As I have grown to realize, what I do isn’t about me—it’s about YOU. My goal is to inspire secondary English teachers who want to build a love of reading and writing within their classrooms. Elementary teachers spend their entire careers building a love for reading amongst their students, but as secondary teachers, we run the risk of tearing down this foundation with rigidity flaunted as rigor. I believe that secondary English classes can be both rigorous and fun, and I want to help teachers achieve this type of learning environment!

Now back to peer review stations. From the first time I posted this picture, I've gotten hundreds of questions about how I do peer review stations. Most of these questions are because my handwriting is so bad that no one could read what the signs said. Ha!! I finally got around to typing these peer review stations out and wanted to share them with you! 

Be sure to find your free download at the end of this post!
Peer Review Stations: 

1. Self-grade with a Rubric- I personally always use the state test writing rubric to grade essays because I think it's important that students get used to the criteria and wording before taking the writing tests. I have my students self-grade using the exact rubric I will use and write notes on why they chose each score on the rubric.

2. Three Stars and a Wish- I picked this up at a workshop and love how catchy it is. Three stars are for three parts of the peer-reviewed essay that deserve a "star sticker" and the wish is for adding one thing they wish was better. This gives students an easy way to word their peer review.

3. Read Aloud- It's amazing how reading your own writing aloud can help with revising for flow and finding errors! Students can also listen to each other's essay being read aloud to find even more parts to revise.

4. Use Tech to Check- I'm a big fan of the free version of Grammarly and The Hemmingway App (website) to help students find and correct grammar mistakes. If you only have time for one, Grammarly is best. The Hemmingway App is more about style issues.

5. Word Choice Work- This station is to help students improve their word choice. With help of partners, they make their word choice more varied and clear.

6. Teacher Conference- This is possibly the most important station because it gives me a chance to speak directly with students and catch any glaring problems I see with their writing. Since I teach high schoolers, I can easily have my own station while they work independently through the other stations. However, it might be best to try to schedule an assistant to help you keep order if you are worried that your students won't do well without your guidance in the other stations. Another option is to completely cut this station out so that you can walk around and guide students through the other stations. You can have a separate day for conferencing (possibly the very next day while students are working on revisions).

7. Specific Skill Showoff- I believe the key to improving writing is to build on skills. To do this, think about focusing on one new skill with each essay. As students do peer review and revision, have them show their learning by highlighting mastery of that specific skill. For example, maybe you are working on embedding evidence. Have students highlight their embedding skills in this station. This will help them to self-grade while helping you with formative assessment.

Tips for Successful Peer Review Stations:

1. Use a timer. You can see behind me in this picture that I have a timer going on my computer screen. These stations take around 10 minutes each. I always start out with a full ten minutes on the timer then adjust from there. 

2. Pair students strategically. My VP has done lots of research on student grouping and learned at the ILA conference that the most effective way of grouping writers is to list your writers from most skilled to struggling then fold that paper in half. The top half (strong writers) should be paired up (top with top) and the bottom half should be paired up. This makes sense to me because very strong writers will not grow unless they are pushed by other strong writers. Likewise, struggling writers might be so intimidated by strong writers that they will be embarrassed or will think writing like that is unattainable. It's important to note that you should not group by grade, but by skill. You will most certainly have a few strong writers who love to write and are good at it, but don't necessarily have a high grade in your class.

3.  Have a consequence for those who aren't ready for their peer review day. It really irks me when students aren't prepared for peer review day. This is a day that I have allocated to directly help students improve their writing, but I can't teach is they aren't prepared. This is why I try my very best work with students during their entire writing process to ensure they will have something to give on peer review day. However, this doesn't always work, so I attach a grade to peer review and send unprepared students to the library to work on their essays alone.

4. Mark the areas in your room very clearly. I have designed these peer review stations with large numbers and clear signage so that students will know exactly where to go next. This cuts down on transition time. I even made a blank template for you so that you can make changes while keeping the look the same.
You can download these for free here: Building Book Love Peer Review Stations