Peer Editing Literary Essays


Literary Analysis Peer Commentary Questions

(adapted from Analyzing Literature: A Guide for Students, by Sharon James McGee)


Writer's Name:


Reviewer's Name:


1.    Read through the draft once for a first impression.  What is your overall impression of this draft after your initial reading?




2.    Now read the text again more slowly.  In your own words, summarize the author's main claim.  Does the author "prove" his/her point by the end of the essay?  Is this claim reasonable and logical given your understanding of the original literary text?  Explain.  Does the claim seem unfounded or completely off base?  If so, why?




3.    Does the writer use effective evidence from the story to support his/her claim?  Are there places where more evidence is needed to support the claim?  If so, note those places.  Has the writer used the evidence appropriately?  In other words, has the writer accurately reflected the text author's intent?  Have any quotes been taken out of context?  Does the writer provide sufficient context for the quoted material to make sense?




4.    Is the paper logically organized?  Do the points lead smoothly from one to the next?  Are there any big leaps of logic that the writer makes?  If so, where are they?




5.    Has the writer integrated quotes into the text appropriately?  If not, note spots where the writer needs to do more.




6.    Did the writer strike an effective balance between providing context for the evidence and plot summary?  (Remember, an effective literary analysis does not rely on plot summary.)




7.    Has the writer followed MLA documentation appropriately?




8.    What suggestions do you have for this writer to improve the literary analysis?






            Before revising your literary analysis, reflect on your essay now that you've had some distance from it.  What do you think is the strongest part of your literary analysis?  Why?  What do you think is the weakest part?  Why?  Think about your claim: Is it reasonable and logical?  Are you making a point you believe in or are you just trying to fulfill the assignment?  Are you making the argument you want to make?  If not, how can you revise your claim to reflect this new idea?



Consider the following points as you revise:

            Is your claim clearly understood by your readers?  How can you make your claim clearer?


            Is your essay organized logically?  Are your points connected with strong transitions to help your reader follow your argument?


            Do you use sufficient evidence to support your claim?  Do you need more evidence?


            Have you integrated your quoted material smoothly into the text? 


            Did you follow proper MLA format?


            Read your essay aloud.  Are there any sentences that seem difficult to get through or confusing?

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Lesson Plan

Peer Edit With Perfection: Effective Strategies


Grades3 – 5
Lesson Plan TypeStandard Lesson
Estimated TimeThree 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author




Do students' eyes glaze over when they try to edit their own writing? Give them a fresh perspective with peer editing. Students are introduced to a three-step strategy for peer editing, providing (1) compliments, (2) suggestions, and (3) corrections in response to a sample of student writing. They practice these steps in a small-group session and share the results with the class. Then they move to individual editing practice guided by a PowerPoint tutorial and accompanying worksheet. This series of practice activities prepares students to engage in constructive peer editing of classmates' written work on a regular basis.

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Peterson, S. (Ed.). (2003). Untangling some knots in K–8 writing instruction. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

  • Writing and revising in the classroom often involves peer discussion, whether in a one-to-one or group setting.

  • Editing is an arduous and unwelcome task for many students; peer editing can improve students' interest in and enthusiasm for the revision stage of the writing process.


Tompkins, G.E. (2003). Teaching writing: Balancing process and product (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.



Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.



Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.



Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).


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Resources & Preparation


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Instructional Plan


Students will

  • Learn the definition of peer editing

  • Understand and apply a three-step peer-editing process

  • Peer edit sample student writing in a whole-group, small-group, and individual setting

  • Use their knowledge of peer editing to develop a peer-editing assessment tool

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Peer Editing as a Whole Class

1.Introduce the concept of peer editing to students and define the term (i.e., students work with someone their own age-usually someone in the same class-to help improve, revise, and edit a piece of student writing). Brainstorm the pros and cons of peer editing and record students' thoughts about the editing and revising process on chart paper.

2.Tell students that they will learn how to peer edit more effectively. Explain that they will look at some samples of student writing. The writing prompt was
Think about a time you tried something new. Maybe it was your first day of school, your first time on a bike or bus, the first time you tried a skill learned in class, or the first time you tried a new sport.

Write a story about when you did something for the first time. Give enough details to show the reader what happened.

3.Pass out (or use an overhead transparency) to show the sample student work-5 points. Read it aloud to students. Explain that there are three steps to peer editing:
  • Step 1: Compliments

  • Step 2: Suggestions

  • Step 3: Corrections
As you introduce each step, model a few compliments, suggestions, and corrections that you would make on the sample writing piece.

4.Start with compliments. Talk about why it is important to give compliments first and the importance of "staying positive." Ask students to brainstorm compliments that they could give for the 5-point writing sample. Some things to look for may include
  • Word choice

  • Organization

  • Sentence structure

  • Opening and closing sentences
Record students' compliments on the board or have them record them on paper.

5.After students have brainstormed compliments, have them move on to the second step—suggestions. Ask students to think of suggestions they would make to the author. Students should remember that "put-downs" are not allowed. Remind students that they need to be specific when giving suggestions. For example, "The second sentence in the third paragraph is confusing to me. Maybe you could break it up into two separate sentences." Record students' suggestions on the board.

6.Lastly, have students make corrections on the sample by checking for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Depending on the skills and routines in your classroom, you may want to have students use editing marks or simply circle or underline mistakes.

7.To end the session, pass out the Peer Editing with Perfection! handout and quickly review the three steps to peer editing: compliments, suggestions, and corrections.

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Peer Editing in Small Groups

1.Pass out copies of the sample student work-4 points, and divide the class into small groups of three to four students each.

2.Ask students to fold a blank sheet of paper into thirds and label the first column compliments, the second column suggestions, and the third column corrections.

Note: You may want to have students make corrections (the third step) directly on the writing sample, especially if they are using editing marks.

3.Have students work with their group to peer edit the writing sample. They should follow the three steps learned in the previous session: start with compliments, then suggestions, and finally corrections. Remind students to review their notes from the previous session if they get stuck on any step.

4.When students are finished, bring the class back together and have the groups share their compliments, suggestions, and corrections.

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Individual Peer-Editing Practice

1.Distribute copies of the Peer Edit with Perfection! worksheet and have students use the classroom or school computers to open and view the Peer Edit with Perfection! tutorial.

2.As students move through the PowerPoint tutorial, they should complete the worksheet.

3.Collect the worksheets when students are done with the tutorial.

4.Bring the class back together to review what they learned about peer editing.

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  • Have students practice their skills by peer editing a piece written by a classmate. Implement and instill the peer-editing technique by having students edit their classmates' written pieces on a regular basis.

  • Have students teach a fellow class to peer edit using the information they learned in this lesson.

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  • Review the Peer Edit with Perfection! worksheets completed during the PowerPoint tutorial. Assess using the answer key.

  • Work with the class to develop a peer-editing checklist for use with future peer editing. It should include all three steps to peer editing.
  • Start by asking students what they need to remember about the first step—compliments. Guide the class to create one or two checklist items related to compliments. Some ideas might include, "I gave the author of this piece at least two compliments" or "I was specific about what I liked about this piece of writing." Record these student-generated checklist items on the board or on chart paper.

  • Move through the other two steps of peer editing (suggestions and corrections) and generate several other checklist items. Some ideas might include, "I gave the author detailed suggestions about how to improve this piece of writing" or "I marked all the spelling and grammar errors that I saw in this piece of writing."

  • Once students have generated six to seven checklist items, record and type them up. Have students use the checklist as an assessment tool for future peer-editing sessions.

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Related Resources


Grades   3 – 6  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

The Houdini Box: What Did Houdini Hide? Writing Creative Endings

Students are encouraged to understand a book that the teacher reads aloud to create a new ending for it using the writing process.


Grades   4 – 7  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Story Writing from an Object's Perspective

Students explore writing from non-human perspectives through a picture book read aloud, mini-lesson, collaborative writing, and the writing process. Students create "A Day in the Life of…" story about an inanimate object.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

And in Conclusion: Inquiring into Strategies for Writing Effective Conclusions

While drafting a literary analysis essay (or another type of argument) of their own, students work in pairs to investigate advice for writing conclusions and to analyze conclusions of sample essays. They then draft two conclusions for their essay, select one, and reflect on what they have learned through the process.


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Grades   K – 5  |  Strategy Guide

Peer Review

This strategy guide explains how you can employ peer review in your classroom, guiding students as they offer each other constructive feedback to improve their writing and communication skills.


Grades   K – 5  |  Strategy Guide

Implementing the Writing Process

This strategy guide explains the writing process and offers practical methods for applying it in your classroom to help students become proficient writers.


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Such a well-prepared lesson. I will be teaching the writing process. Believe me I will use some of you material. The power point is very clear. The language is very accessible to my ELLs.


Judy Reeves

September 03, 2013

I am a Science teacher with one class of Literature .. With the new Core I want my 8th grade students to have a better feeling on writing in all my classes. By promoting Peer editing..My students said" This is wonderful, now I understand what peer work really means!"


Thank you for these resources. I am beginning a unit of the revision of writing, and the resources gave me a great way to work with student partners, yet introduce "Peer Editing" to the whole class. It would be nice to have the 5-point and 4-point papers, but I can also make my own rubric.


Debora Tyler

March 23, 2011

Went looking for a resource to teach writing a "How to " paper for 4th graders! I found this...and wow...what a GREAT resource. My kids are going to love it! The interactive sites and worksheets especially useful. Thanks so much for your work. DT


Kaylee Olney, RWT Staff

April 22, 2010

Thanks for the nudge, Heather. The broken links are now fixed. Sorry for the delay!


Heather Cleland

April 19, 2010

Still waiting for those broken links to be fixed. It would be really helpful.


Kaylee Olney, RWT Staff

January 25, 2010

Thank you for alerting us to those broken links, Glenna. We are currently reviewing the new sets of student work available at Once we determine which sample will be most useful to teachers using this lesson, we will update the lesson accordingly.


Loved the lesson, but access to the 5 point and 4 point papers was available.




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