I recently asked a class of students to write a short paragraph and then email me the finished work. The only catch was that they had to receive feedback from 3 people in their class before sending it to me. The hope was that this would lead to a more polished piece of work before it reached me. Needless to say, this somewhat lazy, unstructured approach to peer correction didn't really work out. There were glaringly obvious problems that I knew other students would have spotted, yet they were still there. With many students, I think, there is a certain discomfort (whether personal, cultural or social) with giving opinions on the work of their peers.
I was reading around on peer correction recently. The British Council give a short little piece on peer correction and manage to point out a way of doing it, the benefits and possible problems, all in a very short piece. If you haven't come across it, the BALEAP website is quite good. They are especially generous in putting up slides and notes from conferences for free. I found this one (by Mary Martala-Lockett & Claire Weetman) and this one (by Jane Sjoberg)which deal specifically with peer correction and make some very good points.
I also found this lesson plan (by Ania Rolinska) which talks about peer correction using Wikis. She uses a really clever colour coding system (highlight green for grammar, yellow for vocabulary, etc.) which is ideal for students working with computers, either inside or outside the class.
For those who are working in an IELTS preparation class, I have put together this peer correction lesson. The idea is to ask students to peer correct with very specific goals. It is based on a part 1, graph writing task that I took from Writefix and uses the Public IELTS Writing Band Descriptors.
Click here for a PDF of the Lesson
A follow up could be to ask students to rewrite the task, bearing in mind peer feedback, and submit to teacher.
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