As your writing workshop develops, don't be surprised to see a community of writers develop.
As a member of this community, students should be encouraged to take on the responsibility of helping each other grow as writers. This is especially important because as the teacher, it is often difficult to get around to every student who needs help at the exact time that they need it. There is only one of you.
It is very empowering for students to be able to help each other. Aside from the good feelings that come from helping, being able to offer feedback helps students establish their own authority in writing. In being helped by a peer, student writers are exposed to ideas they might not have found on their own.
A good way to teach students how to offer specific feedback is to use the TAG Method.
The TAG Method can be either verbal or written feedback (electronic works too) that is designed to help the author see their writing from the reader’s perspective.
To do this activity, two students who are finished with their drafts pair up to TAG each other’s writing. After a thorough reading, the feedback is ready to begin.
There are three components to the TAG feedback:
T = Tell something you like. Sharing your writing is difficult for all of us. It is always a good idea to start with what’s right before moving on to ideas for changes. Encourage your students to make this compliment as specific as possible:
Not helpful = “I like it” or “This is good.”
More helpful = “The details you wrote help me see the characters very clearly” or “The graph you included really helps explain your point."
A = Ask a question. As a reader, what questions pop in your mind as you’re reading? What’s missing that you want to know? What is unclear that you need help understanding?
G = Give a suggestion. This is a chance for the TAG partner to offer an idea the writer may not have considered. This could include:
A suggestion of moving events around to make the piece flow better
A different title
A suggestion of possible dialogue between characters
The addition of a text feature to help clarify ideas
A needed clarification of details
In the end, it is ultimately up to the writer whether or not to incorporate the changes their TAG partner suggested.
When you begin teaching your students how to TAG, it is fun to share a short piece of your own writing. As a class, go through each step and let students offer their feedback to you. You might just be surprised that they see something you didn't and they will love being able to offer their input.
It has been my experience that students who learn how to offer and receive TAG feedback love it and it makes the revision process more meaningful and fun!
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