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A Powerful Lesson: My Students Critique MY Writing

It has been a lifelong dream of mine to publish a book for children.

Hoping to hone my craft of storytelling, I recently signed up for a children's writing class.

My first assignment was to write a 500 - 750 word story based on one of three pictures. I wrote and wrote -- and rewrote and rewrote -- my story.

Finally, I had a finished product that satisfied me, but fell short of thrilling me. I wasn't sure exactly what about the story didn't sit right with me, but I knew there was something.

Lucky for me, I teach a room full of ideal readers (10 year olds) that could help me out by reading my story and giving me their feedback. Problem solved!

In our classroom, we provide writing feedback using the TAG method:

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When a student finishes a piece of writing, they find someone to "TAG" it.

I have seen TAGging work wonders for my student writers. Not only have they learned how to give positive and effective feedback from a reader's perspective (recognizing that "it was good" and "I like it" are not helpful), they have learned how to listen and accept ideas and ask clarifying questions that help with revision. It's a great model for writing feedback.

After finishing my story, I decided to ask my 20 students to TAG my writing, hoping that they could help me figure out what was missing.

It was the best move I could have made.

My students worked in partners to pour over my writing. They knew how important this was to me and asking them to participate in making it a successful experience was a job they took very seriously.