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Classroom Management: Reasons to Peer Edit

Janelle Cox

Peer editing is a classroom management technique that is beneficial for young writers. It helps them to develop and strengthen their own writing skills, as well as help them learn criticism from someone other than their teacher. It’s also is a great way to improve their communication skills, and help them learn to work in a team. Here are five more classroom management reasons why it’s crucial that students learn how to peer edit.

1. Students Learn and Apply the Writing Process Via Peer Editing Classroom Management

In order for the peer editing process to work, students must learn the writing process. By having students understand what a well-written essay looks like, they can then apply this knowledge to help their peers as well as themselves. By having students evaluate their peers’ essays, they learn what “Not” to put into their own writing piece. As they look for misspellings, sentence structure, and grammar errors, they are being exposed to what their essays should “Not” look like. And, as you know, the more that you are exposed to something, the more it will be embedded in your head and you’ll learn from it.

2. Students Learn Better When They are Teaching

You may have heard that teaching someone else is the best way to learn. According to the Learning Pyramid, learners retain 90 percent of what they learn when they teach someone else, and 75 percent of what they learn when they practice it. By engaging in peer editing, we are giving our students the opportunity to really retain information. Also, according to the Learning Pyramid, students retain 50 percent of what they learn through discussion and a big part of peer editing (as you know) is discussing their writing pieces with their peers. The key to this process being successful is that all students need to not only know, but truly understand the writing process. They need to know what goes into an essay so they know what to look for when editing it. The easiest way to help students do this is to allow them to use a “Cheat sheet” while they are peer editing. This is essentially a checklist that they can scan and check off as they edit.

3. Students Learn Different Perspectives

Another beneficial component of peer editing is that students get varied perspectives about their writing piece. Each unique perspective may notice something different about the writing piece, which can be a great advantage to the young writer. These varied perspectives can help the student gain a better insight on how they are as a writer, as well as help them improve their own writing.

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Also, it’s nice to hear feedback from someone other than your teacher. It’s also a great way for students to improve their communication skills, as well as work with students of varying abilities and backgrounds. Once students get into college or the workforce, they will more than likely encounter working with others. It’s also quite doubtful that only one person will read anything they write in the future. That’s why it’s so important to learn to work with people and gain different perspectives at a young age.

4. Students Learn Constructive Criticism

Many people don’t typically respond well to criticism. It’s most likely due to the fact that it hurts our egos, and that we would rather hear about our strengths versus our weaknesses. However, it’s an essential part of the learning process, and it’s best to learn at a young age, rather than when you are older. Students need to learn and accept feedback and the peer editing process is a great way to teach them that.

5. It’s Less Paperwork for the Teacher

Let’s face it, one of our favorite things about peer editing is that it’s less paperwork for us teachers. When the students get to correct all of the mundane errors, like typos, then we can focus on the main idea and really get to foster some greater writers. However, in order for this process to work effectively, then we must also be actively involved in the process by walking around the classroom and monitoring the students as they edit. It shouldn’t take long -- it usually only takes a few times of peer editing for the students to really get the hang of it. Once they do, it’s smooth sailing from there. Then you can use this time to talk one-on-one with the students about their writing piece.

In short, working with peers to improve writing skills can be fun. Try using the rainbow editing technique: Every color of the rainbow represents a different editing tool. For example, a red mark on your paper means you need to capitalize, a blue means to spellcheck, and so on. It’s a unique way to make peer editing colorful and fun.

Do you use peer editing in your classroom? What have your students acquired from that classroom management process? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below, we’d love to hear your input. 


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.