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Partner power

From frequent writing and peer feedback, a new perspective of audience emerged.

I try very hard to convey that we are not beating ourselves up over what’s hard. We’re just trying to find how to break through our stuck-points.

Sharing with a partner

In an effort to build writing fluency, I asked my students to write 10 minutes or more every evening at home in addition to the time they wrote in school. To honor their efforts, I provided 5-7 minutes to talk with two partners at the beginning of writing workshop – partners they selected and kept all year – to share what they wrote in their daybook the night before.

From the frequent writing and feedback, a new perspective of audience emerged. The students started writing for their buddies. They saw them in their heads as they wrote. They began to write to amuse and explain to their partners knowing now that if they didn’t, their writing friends would ask them to. In addition, the students stopped asking me to read everything. Sharing took some of the pressure off of me.

Partner-share time was assessment time for me. I walked around and checked daybooks without “taking them up.” I read over their shoulders and listened in. I offered guidance when needed; conferences happened. I observed students offering writing tips to one another and invited them to share with everyone. We highlighted sharing tips as well: summarizing the writing, reading just the first line, analyzing the effect of the quotations or dialogue, finding lapses, and the list goes on. In other words, during partner share, the students didn’t have to read the whole paper to one another. I could focus the sharing time or they could from a list we compiled and posted in the room.

  • ASSESSMENT: A list of who did homework and who did not, a sense of what each person wrote independently without collecting daybooks, new ideas for writing and sharing, and even some conference notes.

NEXT: Exit cards

ASSESSMENT

Copyright 2016 by Karen Haag

A resource for people passionate about helping students write well, compiled by Karen Haag

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