This can be done by modeling the process of reviewing a paper on an overhead transparency, creating guiding questions for review of an essay, discussing elements of an effective essay, and asking students to generate a list of things they feel that they should look for when reviewing each other's papers.
The goal is to "demystify" the process for students so that they can go beyond giving comments such as "This is great" or "Your paper stinks." Zemelman and Daniels (1988) offer specific suggestions to help encourage students to give helpful feedback to each other.
They suggest including items such as the following: identifying one good part of the writing and explaining what makes it good, asking at least one question about the writing, and identifying one place where they would like to hear more.
A third technique that they recommend is having peer readers mirror what is in the essay by simply telling the writer what they think the writing says as a way of seeing whether or not the writer communicated ideas effectively.
When students get their papers back they can easily see whether or not another reader was able to identify these elements in the essay.
Peer Conferencing When Time is Limited Strong's (2001) list of "shorthand symbols" can be helpful for giving quick feedback when time for peer conferencing is limited.Zemelman and Daniels (1988) caution that teachers may be frustrated if they simply put students into groups and tell them to read and respond to each other's writing without taking the time and energy to prepare them for the experience.They recommend training students over time to be participants in groups by structuring a series of activities that ultimately lead to reviewing each other's papers through peer conferencing.All too often, students flounder when it comes to peer editing essays.Not only is it confusing for students, but they often lack the direction and skills that they need to successfully peer edit a paper.He instructs students to read each other's papers and use the following four symbols to give feedback: means "I like this" * means "Say more here" ?means "This puzzled me" (check mark) means "Check for an error." Peer reviewers can use the symbols for individual words and sentences or put brackets around paragraphs or more extensive text with the symbol in the margin.In a point of view essay, for example, where students are stating an opinion, identifying reasons for that opinion, and supporting the reasons with elaboration, students could switch papers and use three different color highlighters to verify that the writer has stated an opinion (highlighting with blue), identified reasons (highlighting with pink), and supported those reasons with elaboration (highlighting with yellow).This technique can also be used to draw attention to a stylistic device such as use of vivid verbs, a language convention such as spelling errors, or an organizational issue such as use of transition.After that students move into guided peer review of each other's essays and finally end up becoming members of autonomous and flexible groups which can function during all stages of the process with limited teacher monitoring.Scarborough (2001) emphasizes that during this kind of community building it is particularly important for content area teachers to engage students in collaboration that is tied to the content of the class and not just "touchy-feely" activities in order to maximize their value.