Using Writing Groups in First-Year Composition

Fostering trust in peer-to-peer learning

by Lisa Blankenship

I started using writing groups in my classes in graduate school over ten years ago, at first for peer review, and then beyond just peer review to include almost every aspect of the class. Writing groups form such an important part of my teaching that I can’t imagine not using them now. They represent in tangible form, for me, a student-centered pedagogy, and one that brings me not only a lot of (frankly) joy in teaching, but that also saves me a great deal of time! Putting the onus on students for their own learning helps students learn more and takes the focus off of me, so for me this approach is a win-win on many levels.

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The Labor of Commenting

Purposeful and time-conscious feedback methods

by Daniel Libertz

Here are three things that can help to save time when commenting, to have a bit more work/life balance:

  1. Reading with Purpose: having one or two things on your mind as you read that relate to what your goals are for the unit you are currently teaching as well as course goals for the course.
  2. Limiting Comments: only commenting once or twice per page (e.g., about 4-6 comments on a 4 page double-spaced paper).
  3. Using the Clock: setting a timer as you read.
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