Teaching Students to Master Peer Editing in Writing

Blog post with lessons and activities for teaching students peer editing

Peer editing is an incredibly important part of the writing process. And, although it seems simple, peer editing is a skill that takes practice. Fortunately, this will improve the writing of both the writer and the editor. Today, I am going to talk about teaching students to peer edit. So, stick around for some tips and tricks!

First, let’s take a look at the standards. Each grade K-4 includes an element of peer editing in their writing standards. The main focus will be for students to respond to questions and suggestions from peers and adults in order to improve their writing. Let’s find out how!

  • W.K.5- With guidance and support from adults, respond to questions and suggestions from peers and add details to strengthen writing as needed.
  • W.1.5- With guidance and support from adults, focus on a topic, respond to questions and suggestions from peers, and add details to strengthen writing as needed.
  • W.2.5- With guidance and support from adults and peers, focus on a topic and strengthen writing as needed by revising and editing.
  • W.3.5- With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.
  • W.4.5- With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.

Introduce What Peer Editing Is First

Student Peer editing printable checklists

Initially, you will want to introduce peer editing with examples of respectful conversation. Display an anchor chart that has peer editing rules and examples of respectful comments. This is when we try to steer our students away from “Good Job!,” “Awesome!” and “Great Writing!” You will want students to gain an understanding of constructive commentary, meaning the comments they make need to be purposeful and related to the writer’s work.

Examples are going to be a major part of teaching students to peer edit. One way students will learn this is through your editing marks. As they see the parts of writing that need commentary from you, they will begin to look for similar things in other writing. In early grades, this can be as simple as asking a question or giving a compliment to the writer. As students get older and improve, the questions and comments will become more direct and focused.

Start with Positive Compliments First

Peer Editing Practice with teaching lessons and activities

After introducing peer editing rules and examples, I recommend starting with positive compliments. Students can practice giving positive feedback to their peers with short writing activities. Like the activity in the photo, students can respond to a writing prompt and exchange it with a partner. Then, each student will provide positive feedback on a sticky note. Here, students will focus on finding elements of their peer’s writing that they enjoy, or that the writer has done well. Not only will this help them as they are learning to master peer editing skills, but it will also help them in their own writing. They will remember the things that they liked about their peers’ work, and naturally, begin to include them in their own writing.

Practice Positive Suggestions

Student Peer Editing Practice

We want students to keep the positive element when making suggestions, as well. So, as you introduce this next element of peer editing, be sure to provide plenty of examples and practice activities. Consider creating a fold-and-snip booklet like the one above. If they have examples to reference, it will help them build experience and skills. In a booklet or notebook, they can record the compliments and suggestion examples that you provide, the ones they use, and the ones that are used in their work.

You can also keep a master list of writing commentary on an anchor chart or in a digital document for students to access. Be specific. Remind students of things that good writers use in their writing. Lists can include comments like: Your descriptions are clear. I love your use of sensory details. Excellent dialogue. I was hooked by your introduction. Keep in mind, that the more specific examples they have, the more they will improve.

Provide a Checklist to Students to Guide Them

Printable Student Peer Editing Checklist

Teaching students to peer edit will not stop with commentary. Additionally, students will be looking for writing errors and corrections while peer editing. This element of editing is easier for students to grasp. However, I always suggest providing a checklist or anchor chart to guide students. As we teach this form of editing, I like to practice constantly. For example, after introducing and displaying the editing symbols, try to include “editable” errors in all parts of your day. Have a math anchor chart with missing punctuation or capital letters. Include a spelling error in your social studies poster or worksheet. Look for ways to practice this skill thoroughly!

Allow Them To Practice in Many Ways

As I mentioned, peer editing is a skill that needs practice. As students build experience with editing and positive compliments and suggestions, they will become better writers. This practice can be done formally with structured activities or informally with day-to-day writing. Let them practice with short, quick assignments and full writing pieces!

Resources You May Need

If you’re looking for ready-made activities for peer editing, these CCSS units have everything you need. The examples in today’s post are all from the 2nd-grade unit! However, there are full units available for K-4, complete with lesson plans, hands-on practice activities, writing pages, and more!

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