Thursday, June 23, 2016

Socratic Writing Seminar | Student Initiated Questions and Formative Feedback


Teaching student exemplary writing skills is easier when you incorporate Socratic Writing Seminars! Peer lead formative guidance and specific praise from peers, helps students develop and strengthen writing by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approaches.

This writing seminar is used to teach peer lead questioning
protocols and formative feedback. The seminars key focus is developing student lead questing when revising and editing a final draft. Students give and receive formative feedback using a non judgmental critiques model. It should be used for the final draft, specifically what will be polished into the finished published product. This process will help students see what is working and what is not working. The students make inquiries from peers; the peers provide suggestions and ideas for revisions. Students have to step out of their comfort zone and actively seek help.  Ultimately causing a change in student’s attitudes about the writing process: Brainstorming, Prewriting, Drafting, Revising, Editing and Publishing! The improvement in the writing and revising process is less painless when the teacher is not the red pen gate keeper. It’s the individual students not the teacher offering feedback that is so positive to the author/creator. Explicit modeling is essential for this seminar to successfully be properly used. Teacher lead editing which focuses on students writing can make some students shut down and not want to write.

1. Provide students with a writers-checklist or a student friendly six traits of writing rubric. The descriptors and rubrics are clear guidelines of the objectives and criteria for the piece of writing that will be critiqued.

2. As a class, create a list of revision questions based on the checklist or rubrics, have students refer to revision questions “anchor chart” that are based on the criteria for the good writing.

3. Model the procedure for asking questions with small groups or with the whole class.  Create cooperative groups that will read and give feedback and suggestions. Advanced students can be placed on a feedback team.

4. Students work in groups of 2-5.

5. The students reads aloud their final draft to the group, this will immediately show if they are ready for final check lists and revision ideas. The student may ask peers to focus feedback on a specific modification that is particular to something they’re actually struggling with. No feedback is offered without the student asking the question first. Students must take responsibility for seeking help and advice by asking questions.

6. Student give formative feedback and revision ideas can be written on Post-it notes or can be provided from the checklist or criteria for great writing. Students focus on the positive first and what was done well. Students look for specific attributes of great writing, what is praiseworthy or working well and openly praise the student’s specific writing qualities. Praise and feedback always has to be very specific.

7. The teacher models how to give specific helpful feedback, Saying, “You did a good job”, “You need to rewrite it”, this is not formative feedback or helpful for revising the final draft.  

Formative Feedback for Six Traits of Writing "Ideas"
“The writing has great/uneven ideas” The writing makes sense and the purpose is clear”
“This topic is clear/unclear and well (needs more to be) covered” You included interesting fun details” “your ideas are engaging and I want to keep reading” “This sentence is unclear, you might add some important details”

8. Students take turns presenting and asking questions. Again after being ask questions peers provide helpful specific suggestions and praise.

Formative Feedback for Six Traits of Writing "Organization"
“The writing is easy to follow, and it starts out with a powerful opener!”, The writing flows and everything ties together” I like the flows of idea and clear organization” , “The witting connects all the fun details to the main idea and theme”, “Your ideas are broken down into well organized logical paragraphs” “The writing is ordered and has great openers and transitions”

9. Student Debrief: Was the feedback positive and related to the revision questions? Did all students participate in giving and receiving formative feedback? Did the seminar help you think about revising and editing in a positive way? Was the formative feedback helpful? 

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