Peer Reviewing Student Writing

Throughout the course of the semester, I’ve been working closely with John to review the files of past years of the camp, in order to make this year a success. I have been in communication with parents, applicants, and educators to market the camp to the local high schools and communities. I’ve processed the applications, read through recommendation letters, and organized the data of potential campers—each student occupies a cell in a spreadsheet and has his or her own file folder in my laptop. I’ve seen and done most all of what there is to be done behind the scenes of the operation. As the days go by and we approach summer, however, I want to reflect on the camp itself and what I should expect.

On the large scale, my role during the week of camp will mostly be as a facilitator and chaperone—an extra set of hands on deck. However, due to the nature of my internship, I am interested in the educational aspect of the camp, and highly anticipate getting to read the students’ writing and eventually publishing a journal of their collective works. Hopefully, I can be available as an editorial resource for the students during the week of the camp, a fresh set of eyes to read their work and offer suggestions. Having had lots of experience with both informally reviewing my friends’ writing as well as formally reviewing the works of student colleagues, I feel confident in offering my help.

I have peer reviewed in many of my courses in college, but I have learned the best peer review skills from “Critical Issues in Literary Studies” (ENG 300). Before the due date of any of the written assignments, my professor held peer reviewing sessions. During these sessions, we were encouraged to prepare as complete of a draft as possible. We were then encouraged to use this time to share our ideas with our classmates, bounce ideas off of one another, make suggestions, and just see if we were heading in the right direction. The reason why these sessions have been more helpful to me than any other peer review sessions is the advice that my professor offered. We were encouraged to highlight positive parts of others’ works before picking out the problems. We learned that it was more helpful to offer specific advice about things to include if we were going to offer our criticism. Most importantly, we developed the ability to effectively critique someone’s work in a respectful way—there was never any pressure to sugar coat anything, but there was also no reason to be excessively critical. After all, at the end of the day, each individual will write what they believe they should write.

I think the skills that I learned in “Critical Issues in Literary Studies,” a few of which I listed above, will prove very useful when reading the campers’ fiction and poetry pieces. I believe I can offer a genuine perspective on their work, being an English major, a writer, and a person who has once (and not very long ago) been through high school. As camp approaches, I can’t wait to meet the campers and become introduced to their interests and writing styles!



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