Middle School Language Arts: Project Publish

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Middle school Language Arts students are nearing completion of Project Publish, our LAD Fair driven unit on researching, writing, and revising within a chosen genre. At the outset, each student chose his/her category of interest and researched what “publication ready” standards apply to that genre of writing. After analyzing three model texts, students worked all the way through the writing process to create their own pieces. This week, they learned a structured peer review strategy called PQP (praise, question, polish). Groups of four worked together to provide streamlined, constructive, and effective feedback both in writing and verbally. Each student had only one job during each round: praise, question, or polish. The praiser looked for strengths, the questioner asked questions, and the polisher offered constructive criticism. The process taught students to think about peer review as more than an editing process. They focused on higher-order writing concerns like content, organization, and style to help peers improve the quality of their writing. A key element of this work was learning to communicate and respond to criticism. Students learned to take ownership of the feedback they were giving using “I” statements, as opposed to “you” statements. We talked about the power of word choice when offering feedback, for example, how feedback is received differently when framed as an “opportunity” as opposed to a “problem.” I was very impressed with not only the quality of feedback students gave each other, but also with their intentional delivery. The final step in our journey to a final draft is requesting feedback from an adult reader. Parents and guardians, please check in with your student about which adult will be asked to provide that feedback. If it’s you, enjoy reading your student’s writing, and thank you for your support!