Thursday, November 3, 2011

Remind you of anything?

‘Speed Dating’ Peer-Review Writing Workshops

November 3, 2011, 11:00 am
The format is pretty simple, though it requires some preparation and classroom reorganization. Here’s what I do to set up the workshop:
  1. I ask students to bring a printed copy of their introductions to class. Because this exercise requires students to move frequently (more on that shortly), laptops can be unwieldy.
  2. I arrive at the classroom at least ten minutes prior to the start of class. I move the chairs (and, if the room has them, tables) so that there are two concentric rings of chairs. The chairs in the inner ring should face the chairs in the outer ring. When students arrive I make sure they sit in the rings.
  3. I also bring some music to class—a song that plays for approximately 4 minutes. I usually plug my iPhone into the classroom sound system (if there is one), but you could just as easily bring in a portable music player or some laptop speakers.
  4. I ask students to get out their printed introductions, one piece of paper, and a pen or pencil.
After this preparation, the workshop is pretty simple. When the music starts, facing pairs of students exchange introductions. They read each other’s paragraphs and then give their partners one specific piece of advice about how to improve their introductions. This advice is delivered aurally, and students write down their partner’s advice on their papers. Hopefully they can do this before the song ends (which doesn’t always happen in the first round but almost always happens within a few rounds). When the music stops, the students in the inner ring stand up and rotate to the next partner. I restart the music and they begin the process again. In 40 minutes students get feedback from 10 of their peers.

Read more HERE


  1. This activity sounds fun and productive. Would like to hear how students integrate feedback into subsequent versions of their introductions.

  2. This sounds like a lot more fun than actual speed-dating...

  3. I have used this activity and I have called it a circle of brainstorming. I have used with verbal storytelling to simplify the story and tell it under 15 seconds...straight it to the point. I think I'm going to use it in the writing format. The time limit definitely pushed students to produce their best work with the use of repetition (revision) as they critique one another.
    If students don't' get uncomfortable and wait for the right moment to write and produce a thesis statement (I think we call it procrastination), the work will never get handed in! Thanks for sharing!