Using Peer Drafting to Build Collaboration and Personalise Learning

Teaching the ability to give and receive feedback and use it to produce high quality work.

This blog is a reflection about students assessing themselves and their peers by using rubrics and exemplars. Sometimes peer assessment or peer drafting can be a sensitive learning activity and some students feel that they are being ‘mean’ or they mark themselves too harshly.

After completing my first project based learning unit using the 21 Century Fluencies with my year 8 English class, I was concerned about a few students who  were not realising their true potential. I asked this question to Lee Crockett in a recent debrief session at Wilderness School and he suggested letting students write their own rubrics. To give this a go I asked my students to create their own rubric and mark their own writing.

Before designing their own rubric we discussed the purpose of a rubric and then analysed an exemplar text for specific language features. This discussion created open and explicit learning about how rubrics relate to their own writing and to producing quality work.

To go a step further, I wanted the students to peer assess and help other students understand the expectations of their own rubrics and so have the opportunity to improve their writing and that of others before the final marking.

In the past I have asked students how they feel about peer assessment and they have had negative feelings as they see themselves as judging others and they don’t want to feel as if they are being ‘mean’ to their classmates.

To show how peer assessment does not have to be ‘mean’ we watched this video on Critique and feedback – the story of austin’s butterfly.


I found this video to be very informative as it shows how students can give valuable feedback. That a helpful critique requires precise instruction and this can be achieved by referring back to the exemplar.  Peer assessment does not need to be ‘mean’ but can be helpful if they know how to help the other student and what to look for.

After watching the video I asked my students how can they give helpful advice in the drafting process and we reflected upon what knowledge they have and how to use the exemplar to find problems

So what skills do students need to critique their own work and that of others?

In a related blog I read  about Dan Pink’s ideas on the skills we want students to develop; namely, that we are shifting from a need to have students just solve problems to needing them to actually identify the problems as well. That is, the ability to suss out issues and challenges that aren’t necessarily obvious. And this is where students could benefit from educators—learning the process of identifying a problem.”

This ability to find problems can be learnt through peer drafting and knowing how to locate  the text and language features in the exemplar that they can use to produce high quality work.

Peer drafting can also be a way of personalising learning through getting feedback on their performance, so they can see that they are making progress and see that they are getting better at something.

As Pink said. “When students assessed themselves, they held themselves to a higher standard. This changed the way he looked at the kids.

So what steps can I take to get this happing in my classrooms next year?

  • Collect student first drafts that I can use to use as in Ron Berger’s video.
  • Prepare exemplar texts for class analysis activities. English Work Samples
  • Use the Australian Curriculum as a poster to show learning objectives/rubric
  • Use the Language and Literacy Levels Level 12 (year 8) as a poster to show explicit text features they should be aiming for. To de-construct the rubric.

As I look back on these ideas of peer drafting I realise how it can foster visible learning and dialogue between students and myself as we learn how to discover problems and produce high quality work.




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  1. Great post on assessment in the ESL classroom! I like the idea of peer drafting and the video is very useful. Thanks for sharing! Here you can find more articles on error correction.

  2. Lovely post, Ann, and very thorough. Thank you for bringing your blog to my attention – lots to learn here.


  3. Hi, Ann! Great post, and I love the video of the kids giving such insightful and constructive feedback to a peer. This is exactly the type of support and collaboration that you and others are fostering among our students and it’s great to see. please keep up the good work!

  4. Hello Ann

    I agree that the idea of peer review, if introduced in a manner that is non confrontational, is very effective. Your post provides a way that his can be achieved.

    Most appreciated

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