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When students receive a variety of responses and reac- tions on a piece of writing, they need to make decisions about how to interpret, use, and reconcile all the feedback they receive. Despite the benefits and the importance of using peer work- shops in the classroom, however, they can be a struggle — a struggle to make productive and worthwhile for writers and responders alike. When it comes to peer responding, I have two objectives. First, I want the students to respond in a supportive and encour- aging manner so that as writers they feel comfortable enough to take risks and chances in their work, to explore different forms, and to experiment with different rhetorical strategies. Writers grow and develop by expanding and pushing the boundaries of their writing, and they need a space that provides them the free- dom to take risks and to fail. Second, I want peer responses to be effective in terms of revision by providing comments that do not correct but rather offer descriptive reactions to the text, ques- tions that enable the writer to think about the piece in a new way, and options for revision. Part of the struggle with peer workshops is that students come into the writing class having had limited experience with revision and feedback. Many students tend to consider their drafts as fin- ished and have difficulty seeing revision as anything beyond edit- ing for surface errors (Spear 24). Students also have limited experience as responders.
They tend to see feedback as criticism or evaluation and their job as a responder as one of fixing and correcting the text (Spear 131). Students also tend to want to preserve the harmony in their group essay editing service online essay editing service online and in their class (Spear 25) and are hesitant to judge, feeling they do not have the authority to do so (Elbow and Belanoff 5 07). The intersection of all these factors results in student responses in peer workshops that alter- nate between two types. Spear, Elbow and Belanoff, and Bishop, as well as others, offer a variety of ways to establish and enact peer responding in the classroom. The particular exercise I describe here is meant to be used in conjunction with these and other methods of teaching peer response. This exercise enables students to recognize the im- portance of being specific as well as the importance of focusing on the text rather than making judgments about the writer. I have also found this exercise helpful in enabling students to work through texts of published writers. Students tend to read and respond to published texts and student texts differently.
I have found that students tend to be less generous with published texts, quick to harshly criticize a published essay editing service online writer they do not understand or agree withTTheir harsh criticism and attacks on the writer prevent them from moving forward into understand- ing the text.
When this happens, I have found it helpful to refer back to this exercise, to remind students not only to separate the writer from the text, but also to respond to the published writer as they would to one of their peers. If I ask them to respond to the published writer in the same way they have been working through their peer groups — by separating the writer from the text, by describing what they see in the text, and by asking ques- tions — they have a way into the text, a way to begin to under- stand what the writer is saying.
Description of Activity I have used this exercise in all kinds of undergraduate writing courses, including lower- and upper-division composition and creative writing. I have also found this exercise useful in courses and workshops that prepare new teachers for the writing class- room. I do the following exercise early in the semester, before we begin any kind of peer workshopping. Generally, the exercise and the discussion it leads into take an entire class period.
First I take the students through the following steps: 1. These may or may not be comments you have ever actually received. And again, these may or may not be comments you have actually received. Each of these steps raises different issues concerning the kinds -of responses that can be given on a piece of writing. Beginning with the first step, I ask each student to read one comment from his or her list out loud. Students usually list responses they have received in the past but where to buy college papers are never quite sure what they mean exactly. As many students point out, if they had known the sentence was awkward sounding, they would not have written it that way. As the discussion progresses, the students begin to see the need to be specific in their own comments and responses.
Students also see that these comments are hurtful and highlight what is wrong with the writer rather than essay editing service online discussing what is going on in the text. This leads to a discussion on the importance of separating the writer from the text and staying focused on the piece itself. The students also begin to see that these comments are meant to be hurtful rather than encourage any type of revision.
Although these comments tend to be full of praise (e. Students begin to understand that these are dead- end comments, comments that do not help or enable revision. The students acknowledge that they like to hear these kinds of comments and that there are points during the drafting process when they need to be encouraged in order to continue to write.
They also acknowledge, however, that these types of responses do not provide them with any information or a sense of direction to help them revise their piece. This generally leads us academic custom essays into a discussion of the last step of the exercise. Students acknowledge that they want to be encouraged to keep writing, but they also need direction and guidance to help them revise.
Generally, the discussion focuses on the value of descriptive and specific responses. Responses that describe what is happening in a piece, that raise questions about the issues or - 191 - 219 SUPPORTING PRACTICES points in the piece, that explain how something is or is not work- ing, and that suggest ways the piece could be developed are essay editing service online all effective comments because they give writers information about their writing.