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From the Past: 21 October 2014 Peer Editing

In fall 2014 I began adjuncting after teaching high school for 17 years. I desperately needed a break. This series will examine my ramblings while I had my students write for a particular amount of time during the first year I taught composition. These will be curated.

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Peer editing is an assignment that may be a teacher’s worst nightmare. It can also be the best experience a teacher can have. It all depends upon the students. If the students are willing to be kindly critical of each other’s writing, then it can be wonderful. If the students do not wish to participate it is a nightmare. Yet I have learned that peer editing is important for one reason: It allows brains other than the teacher’s to see what students write and because of that papers rewritten with peer critique are often more organized, more thought-provoking, and have fewer grammatical mistakes. Thus, I try to incorporate peer editing into my composition classes.

Fortunately, college students generally have their papers (or at least their laptops) with them. Not every student does, though. I’ve seen students switch laptops and peer edit, and I’ve seen students without papers contribute to the peer editing process. I LOVE, absolutely LOVE when I hear all of them talking at once and reading at once and asking at once about EACH OTHER’S work. It is mindblowingly amazing: all that thinking happening at one time, helping each other.

Then there are the other times, and those times suck. I’m not going to write about those times since I don’t want to depress myself. So I will stop right here.

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