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Lesson Plan Title: Peer Review Conference

Grade Level: 9-12

Duration: One class period

Description: Peer conferencing can be one of the most rewarding parts of a class. Students learn the most about writing by having to analyze and say something meaningful about others' work. Most students will not be used to substantial peer review and it might take a lot of effort to create a conducive environment. This lesson should come after you have discussed constructive criticism and set guidelines for giving positive and productive feedback. It will also come after you have modeled good feedback yourself through your written and oral comments. During this lesson, students exchange poems and analyze their peers' poems for both meaning and sound. They come together in pairs for conferences on their poems.

Student Objectives: Students will reinforce their knowledge of poetic devices through critiquing peers' poems. They will also practice techniques for giving and receiving productive feedback.

List Materials (PDF):

  1. Review Sheets
  2. Writer's Conference Instructions
  3. Colored pencils for marking poems

Set Up and Prepare: Plan a peer review for a couple of days after an assigned poem is due, unless you have a class that turns in everything on time. Go through the poems without marking on them and decide how you want to pair your students for peer review. If you do multiple peer review sessions in your class, vary your grouping; sometimes pair students with like motivation and skill and other times do the opposite. Make photocopies of the Writer's Conference Sheets. Arrange the furniture for pair work and have the two student poems and colored pencils ready for each pair. Do not hand out the Writer's Conference Sheets right away.


PART I: Review (During the review, students work independently)

Step 1: Instruct students to read their partner's poem through two or three times.

Step 2: Instruct students that their first task is to think about sound. Have them mark the poems for cool sound devices (rhyme, alliteration, assonance).

Step 3: When students are ready, give them their next task. They need to circle a couple of words that they feel do not work in the poem. For example, they circle words that do not seem to go with the flow of the poem or seem extraneous.

Step 4: Now, hand out the Writer's Conference Sheets and give them time to work on them. Circulate and give students help, but allow them to come up with their own critiques of the poems.

PART II: The Conference (During the conference, students come back together)

Step 1: When you notice that a group is finished reviewing the poems, get them started on the conference. Give them a copy of the conference instructions and let them know that they should discuss the first poem.

Step 2: Once everyone is conferencing, talk to quiet groups or groups that finish early. Give them questions to allow them to delve more deeply into the poems.

Assess Students: In this lesson, you will be able to informally assess your students' skill levels in a number of areas. First, do your students understand different poetic devices well enough to be able to assess a peer's poem? Are they able to offer constructive criticism? How do they take constructive criticism?

Lesson Extension: Some teachers work with personality assessments such as Myers Briggs to frame group work and cooperative classroom environments. If you use the "True Colors" personality assessments, http://www.truecolors.org/ , here is an analysis of how different personalities tend to give and accept criticism. You can give these out and discuss them to help students be aware of themselves and their peers.

Evaluate Lesson: Did students exhibit confidence in their ability to analyze and discuss poetry? Did they take their discussions seriously and go into detail about the poems? Were they able to accept feedback from their peers? When students revise their poems after these review sessions, do they make changes according to their peers' suggestions?

Assignments: For students' final portfolios, you could require that they include two or three peer review sheets with their work. That way, they will know that they are responsible for discussing more of their work with peers. You could make class time for this or assign it for on-going homework.