"What are we doing to help kids achieve?"
There have been many blog entries about "Argument Driven Inquiry" at this site. I have witnessed first hand how this can be a powerful tool in the classroom. One particular aspect of Argument Driven Inquiry (ADI) that has not received much mention here is the "peer editing" piece. The ADI site has many resources that help to model editing and constructive criticism. Many of these resources are excellent. I have tried peer editing with some success. The first few times I had students peer edit I gave each lab a "code" and made three copies of each. Students received three labs at random. We discussed how to provide positive feedback with constructive criticism. We talked about focusing on the science and not the person writing the science. Students were asked to make "I" statements and to turn their statement into a question. As a teacher, it was an overall positive experience but also labor intensive. It was a bit difficult to get all of the labs coded, copied, checked and returned. I decided to "tweak" the process a bit.
This time students were told to bring in three copies of the rough draft of their lab. They sat in their original lab groups of four students. Students then completely switched lab groups. Every student at the new lab group table passed out all three of their reports and received three in return. We spent some time discussing correct feedback and proper criticism.They could make comments and ask questions from the person who wrote the lab report. I was really impressed with the conversations. They were on task, respectful and focusing on the science. This is different from the original ADI plan. The ADI plan does a blind peer edit. My adjustment seemed to accomplish the same feedback for students but in a slightly different manner.
So which is best? I would suggest that as a teacher to try them both. The outcome may depend on factors such as class culture and the types of students you have. Many teachers think that when students copy it is considered "cheating". The ADI method seems to reflect what scientists do. They talk to other scientists, consider different data, and sometimes change their mind. As a teacher, it was wonderful to see students help students through this process as I sat back and watched. Give it a try...you might be pleasantly surprised. Students do that to us every now and then....