Tuesday Teaching: Editing Essays

As I grade the final essays for my Spanish 2 class this evening, I am remembering how awful assigning peer-edited essays used to be. It seemed I had only two options:

  1. Have students “peer edit” each other’s essays and get a messy jumble since the kids really didn’t know what they were doing right or wrong…. or…
  2. I could pre-edit the essays, underlining errors, and then have the “peer edit” session be one where two kids would sit down together and try to figure out what was wrong with the things I had underlined.

The third way!
Controlled peer edits.

Any experienced teacher sees the flaw in method #2: I was grading everything twice! It took WAY too long. Then, just two weeks ago I discovered a third way. Big thanks are due to Daniela DeSousa for the idea that, though peers are useless in lower level Spanish for real edits, they are well capable of simple ones.

This led me to develop a quick-check peer editing worksheet. In it, students look at their peer’s essay one sentence at a time and search for two (and only two things). Does the verb match the person? And do the descriptions match the nouns? All they had to do was check off little boxes and voilá! I received second-draft essays that were mostly free of errors in subject-verb agreement and gender/number agreement. The kids received all the benefit of a peer edit process and I only had to grade them all once the most glaring errors had already been fixed. Truly a winning worksheet.

About Tara Sullivan

Author of GOLDEN BOY (2013), THE BITTER SIDE OF SWEET (2016), and TREASURE OF THE WORLD (2021). Published by Penguin Books for Young Readers Find out more at www.TaraSullivanBooks.com Or, follow me on Twitter: @SullivanStories
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3 Responses to Tuesday Teaching: Editing Essays

  1. Great idea! I just made a similar one for my (middle school) Spanish students.

  2. I find that it helps simplify the activity for them. They’re willing to do it, but often don’t know where to start.

  3. Karisa says:

    Thank you so much for this! I have been wondering for a long time how to create a peer review rubric and this is exactly what I need!

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