YWP surveys and national studies show that:
- Students want and appreciate feedback from their classmates;
- Students want substantive feedback, meaning they do not want comments like, "this is great" (or, conversely, "this is terrible"); and they want to know what works and how something that doesn't work can be improved;
- Students who receive the most and deepest feedback feel better about themselves and their writing; and
- Students who receive substantive feedback say it helps them improve their writing.
DETAILS: Some general questions to ask
The teacher should ask these general questions about commenting:
- Why do you want people to comment on your work?
- How will that help you become a better writer?
- What kind of information do you want to get about your work?
- What kind of comments do you not want to get?
How to comment
Commenting needs to be encouraged by everyone in the classroom. YWP suggests that students set up the rules for commenting at the very beginning of the year. Some ideas:
- Do not pass judgment on the piece. The aim is to tell the author your experience as a reader -- what you liked, where you thought there could be improvement.
- Many classes follow a "One + One+One" model in which a student reader comments on One thing she/he found engaging about the piece (and why) and One thing the reader wondered about -- a question or confusion or suggestion and One thing that popped into the reader's mind while he/she was reading.
- Don't worry about the spelling -- first comment on the idea, the content, the structure, the language.
- Keep in mind that everything you write in your feedback will appear harsher and more negative than intended. Reread your comments and ask: "How would I feel if I received this?"
- Be truthful: If you don't say what you think, the comments won't help.
- It's the obligation of the class to make sure everyone receives a comment on their writing.
Some questions to ask as you are reading:
- Does the opening engage me and make me want to keep reading?
- Is the story or the central idea clear?
- Is the voice strong and clear?
- As I read where was I most engaged? Where did I get confused?
- What one thing did I like best?
- What suggestion could I make to help the author make this better?