Teaching to Peer and Self Review

I get it! Peer assessment saves us having to mark their books. It’s far easier to give KS3 kids red pens and say: “in your neatest possible handwriting kids, write what went well.” If you’re lucky, management won’t even notice it wasn’t you! This leaves you free to trawl through the latest batch of controlled assessments; giving them their final, unalterable mark. You wish that your pupils had time to learn how to review and redraft their writing but with at least one assessment each half term and a tonne of content to cover…where can you find the time…hang on a second, they’ve had three years to prepare for this!


Learn how to teach pupils to critique. This should be introduced after the completion of a piece of work so that pupils can be taught how critique can help them to effectively redraft.

 Copy and print out the fish…


Mrs Ashes: Do you like my fish? Holding up first fish image

Pupils: No Miss, they look like a three year old drew them!

Mrs Ashes: That’s not very kind.  You might put me off drawing fish forever if you are not very nice about my drawing. I’d like to get better at drawing fish but to help me, you will need to be kind, specific and helpful or I’ll get nowhere. Please write down kind, specific, helpful ideas that could help me to improve my fish.

Pupils scribble down ideas. During the discussion that follows Mrs Ashes organises the responses into kind, specific and helpful. One boy offers “rubbish” as a response and Mrs Ashes notes this as a non-response to remind pupils what not to do (equally as important as what to do).

Mrs Ashes: Thank you everyone, you have helped me to improve and now I am able to draw better fish! Pulls out second fish picture.

Now I want to get even better; do you lot think you could help me?

Pupils: Yes!! The process is repeated to ensure understanding and avoid misconceptions and the final fish picture is produced.

Pupils are now shown the connection between improving an image in this way and improving a piece of work. Take them back to the piece of work that they have recently completed.  Pupils with all of the kind, specific and helpful intentions in the world could still have no clue how to improve their peers’ work as they are likely to be working at a similar level to them. Provide pupils with a top quality example of the work you want them to complete. Ask them to spot the difference between the example and the work they are assessing. What does a top quality example do that this work does not do yet? Pupils should bullet point a list of differences before choosing specific and helpful advice to give their peers. Note that pupils do not need to state anything pointless such as:  “I love the size of your writing” just to be kind. They can be kind by simply avoiding saying mean things about a particularly shoddy piece of work.

Give pupils time to reflect and rewrite their work directly after receiving their kind, specific feedback. For the first few attempts at this, you will need to monitor their efforts and ensure that progress is being made through this feedback but through persistence, you will create pupils who can peer and self assess with purpose!

Peer and self-assessment might be a cop out in some classrooms but not in yours! Not anymore! Get your Year 7s using critique to improve each other’s work. The fish are a great hook that might be a little too young for your older pupils – get in there early! Show them that a masterpiece, just like the fish, needs to be reviewed, reshaped and rewritten before it reaches perfection. Developing a culture of critique will lessen your marking load without damaging the kid’s progression.

Since the invention of coursework, teachers have battled with pupils over redrafting; my teachers didn’t bother trying to get me to redraft and just wrote the work for me. No teacher wants to write the pupil’s work for them. We want them to be able to do it for themselves. Let’s help them get there.

2 thoughts on “Teaching to Peer and Self Review

  1. Pingback: What are you marking that for? | The Learning Geek

  2. Pingback: Teaching to Peer and Self Review | Reflections of a Learning Geek

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