Friday, September 21, 2007

College Essays On Google Groups

Michele, Lauren and Anne each teach a senior level English Literature class. As part of that class, students work on their college essays. But this year that looked a little different:

We wanted them to connect with one another and see what their peers were saying. Last year, Michele had used Google Groups with her seniors to submit their essays online so that their classmates would be able to provide valuable feedback to the posted work. After discussing how to do this, we came up with the following criteria so that our combined 5 sections of seniors could upload, comment, and read their peers' work. We had some basic criteria in completing this assignment:

Post one final essay

Students can choose to post anonymously. We actually came up with a coding system of the teacher’s last name followed by a number (Smith 4).

Students could choose to use their names to post, but no last names. (Anne S)

All students needed to post their essay by the same date.

Students need to give constructive criticism and valuable feedback to at least 5 other essays. (These essays need to be students in other classes)

Constructive criticism needs to be memorable and helpful. Try not to comment on essays that have already received feedback. If an essay has received 3 comments, move on to another essay.

While it certainly didn’t go perfectly, all three teachers felt like it went pretty well and they learned a lot about what they would like to do differently next time.

From Anne:

Some suggestions that we need to think about next time we do this: What does constructive criticism look like? Some kids received valuable feedback while others had no comments. Clearer identification of who is in what class. Do we want to open up the essays to a larger audience?
From Michele:

I would like to have 3-4 things for the students to critique in particular: voice, narrative, word choice, and getting to know the student. Students, for the most part, were specific with their comments, but I think it could be more focused.
From Lauren:
For next year, I will have students comment on three essays instead of five so the feedback is more authentic; several students felt like five comments were too many and that peer readers started getting lazy with their feedback. In addition, I would spend a class period talking about how to give good, specific constructive criticism based on the final rubric on which their essays were graded. Another student suggested that teachers comment on the essays of students who are not in their classes so writers not only receive feedback of students outside of their class, but also receive the opinion of another teacher.
Feel free to check out their essays and leave your own constructive comments, or leave comments and suggestions on the blog post.

1 comment:

  1. An impressive project. I am impressed with your willingness to use technology together. Like Davis and Kleeman, I want to try googlegroups with thesis statements. Could it work? Suuggestsions?