Contributed by Natalie Taylor, 2015
Cut-it-Up Peer Review
Students take the scissors to their partner’s draft and help them rearrange it. This peer review
session focuses on organization and transitions.
At the beginning of class (or in the previous class) we talk about different organization methods for the type of paper they are writing. We also talk about transition words and sentences and what those types of sentences do for their paper. On peer review day, they bring in one copy of their complete draft.
I pair them up and give them time to read the current draft of their partner’s paper. Then I give each group a pair of scissors and tell them to cut up their paper, separating their paragraphs. They work together to rearrange the paragraphs, trying different options in order to find the best organization for their paper. If a part of a paragraph doesn’t belong, I encourage them to cut that section out and move it somewhere else. Some students choose to rearrange each other’s papers on their own and then discuss the proposed changes. I allow students to make that decision on their own.
When they think they have a good order for their paragraphs, I ask them to then work on the transitions. With the help of their partners, they wrote in good transition sentences to make their new organization flow more smoothly. At the end of class, I gave them paper clips to keep their new order together to take home. Then we talked about how they were now thinking about their papers differently.
I wanted students to focus on the basic organizational structure of their papers. In conferences, I’ve told students to try this cut-up method when they say they struggle with organization, but they rarely do it on their own. By forcing them to do it in class with a partner, they could finally
see their papers off the screen and in a different format. It helped de-familiarize their brains from their papers so they could look at them differently, and as a result, helped them be less attached to the way the words hit the page the first time. Students have fun with the assignment once they get over the initial “what are we doing?’ question, and many start trying the cut-up method on their own in their own time.