Peer Conferencing

Use the steps below for effective peer conferencing during the writing process.

  1. Do a self-assessment of your draft. What do you think you have you done well in this draft? What do you think needs more work? Create a plus/delta chart to keep track of this information.
  2. Write 2-3 questions that you would like your peers to answer after they read your draft. You may want to choose from the following list (borrowed from Ms. Miller's peer conferencing page for The Forum):
    • Do you see a clear purpose for what I have written? What is it?
    • Have I chosen a topic that is too large to cover in a piece like this? If so, how should I narrow it?
    • Are there places where you wish I had included more detail or imagery? If so, where?
    • Are there parts that could be left out? If so, what are they?
    • Are there places where I could have used more exact or appropriate words? If so, where and what words do you suggest as replacements?
    • Does the opening line 'grab' you? Does it begin energetically, with plenty of active verbs? How else could it be improved?
    • State the topic of this draft. Does it interest you? Why or why not?
    • Do I vividly and clearly describe the situation in the piece, making it come alive for the reader? Explain.
    • Does the end provide closure and offer an interesting final insight that helps you to understand the significance of the experience? How could the writer make it more effective?
    • Shut your eyes and think about the piece. What did you get out of it?
    • Identify and describe in detail what you find to be the main problems with the piece. What do I need to do to revise this piece successfully in relation to the problems that you find?
    • What is the piece’s weakest aspects?
    • Is the focus clear? Do all the paragraphs (or, for poetry, stanzas) stay on target with the topic?
    • If I used abstract or general terms, suggest ways to make them more concrete.
    • Is the title appealing? Suggest an alternate that would make someone want to read this piece.
    • To the best of your ability, check for and point out mechanical errors, wordiness, and incorrect spelling.
  3. Give your draft to someone else so that they can read it and give detailed responses to your questions.
  4. While you're waiting for feedback on your draft, give feedback to someone else -- preferably the person reading your draft. (During peer conferencing time in class, everyone at your table should rotate their drafts and questions clockwise.) Consider using the following sentence starters to provide detailed, constructive feedback (again borrowed from Ms. Miller's peer conferencing page for The Forum):
    • I wonder what would happen if…
    • What did you mean by…
    • When I begin reading your draft, I am immediately interested because...
    • I am not particularly interested at the beginning of the draft because…
    • I think a real strength of this draft is…
    • I think this draft could improve if...