The 20-Minute Peer Feedback System

I believe that peer feedback is critical for students. Part of this is the nature of peer interactions. Peers are often able to share their thoughts in a more relatable way than teachers. Another part is simply the time limits that teachers have. Even with student conferencing, teachers can only offer so much immediate feedback. However, with quality peer feedback, students can get an extra pair of eyes to figure out what they need to do next.

When I mention this to fellow teachers, the first concern is usually time. We don’t want to burn an entire class period on peer feedback. The second concern is structural. We’ve all had times when students simply shrug their shoulders and say, “Looks good to me.” So, how do we pull it off?

Over the last few years, I have worked on a twenty-minute system. None of this is new. This process (pitching, clarifying, offering feedback, paraphrasing, and coming up with next steps) has existed in many forms for years. So, I don’t claim to be original at all here. I’m just tossing out what’s worked for me.

The System

The way this works is simple. Members from different groups pair up and engage in a five-step process. Each step takes two minutes. You, as a teacher, can keep a timer going and say, “next” when it is time to move to the next phase. In the first phase, the first partner gives an “elevator pitch” sharing the product. Next, the second partner asks clarifying questions while the first partner answers the questions. The rule is that there cannot be any feedback given. It has to be question and answer. Afterward, they move into the feedback stage, where the second partner gives specific feedback. This is followed by paraphrasing. Finally, they land on next steps. When this is done, the partners switch roles.

Part One:

Time
Phase
Description
Directions for Partner A
Directions for Partner B
0-2
Elevator Pitch
Partner A explains the process, product or idea in two minutes
Explain your process, product or idea
Take notes on what you are hearing or listen actively
2-4
Clarifying Questions
Partner B asks clarifying questions without giving any feedback
Answer clarifying questions
Ask clarifying questions
4-6
Feedback
Partner B gives feedback to Partner A
Take notes on specific feedback you have gotten
Offer feedback in the form of two things that worked well and one idea for an improvement
6-8
Paraphrase
Partner A paraphrases what he or she has heard from Partner B
Paraphrase what you have heard
Listen to see if the paraphrased information is correct
8-10
Next Steps
Partner A makes a list of future revisions
Make a list of future revisions
Check the list of revisions

 

Part Two:

Time
Phase
Description
Directions for Partner A
Directions for Partner B
10-12
Elevator Pitch
Partner B explains the process, product or idea in two minutes
Take notes on what you are hearing or listen actively
Explain your process, product or idea
12-14
Clarifying Questions
Partner A asks clarifying questions without giving any feedback
Ask clarifying questions
Answer clarifying questions
14-16
Feedback
Partner A gives feedback to Partner B
Offer feedback in the form of two things that worked well and one idea for an improvement
Take notes on specific feedback you have gotten
16-18
Paraphrase
Partner B paraphrases what he or she has heard from Partner A
Listen to see if the paraphrased information is correct
Paraphrase what you have heard
18-20
Next Steps
Partner B makes a list of future revisions
Check the list of revisions
Make a list of future revisions

Final Thoughts

Note that sometimes it works best to front-load the first step by having students read one another’s work ahead of time. When this happens, it gives the second partner the chance to have a solid context for what the first partner is going to say. Also note that the first time you use this structure with students they will most likely ask for more time. However, the more you use this structure the more comfortable they will be with how it works. You might even need to model it with students first.

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John Spencer

My goal is simple. I want to make something each day. Sometimes I make things. Sometimes I make a difference. On a good day, I get to do both.

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