Using Read Around Groups
Have you used ‘read around groups’ in your middle school ELA class?
Two years ago (I think it was two, but I keep losing track of time, so maybe it was more…!), I read Teaching Adolescent Writers, by Kelly Gallagher.
One strategy I’ve really enjoyed (and so have my students) is RAGs – Read Around Groups.
This is a great strategy to help students share their writing with each other and to allow them to see the variety of writing styles and skills of their peers.
How We Used Read Around Groups in Middle School ELA
1) I collected the students’ papers – they did NOT write their names on them, to keep them as anonymous as possible.
2) We counted off to form our groups, with 4-5 students in a group.
3) I gave each group 4-5 papers, and instructed each group to write a letter and number on each paper.
- Group A wrote 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A on the papers
- Group B wrote 1B, 2B, 3B, 4B, and the other groups did the same.
4) Then, each student took one of those papers and they read that paper for one minute.
- After one minute, they passed the papers to the left and read the new one for a minute.
- This continued until they read all of the papers in the group. (It’s ok if they don’t finish the entire paper in that minute.)
- After reading, each group discussed and decided which of the papers in their group was the “best.” They then wrote that paper’s letter/number on a recording sheet, as well as their justification for choosing it.
5) One student from each group gathered their group’s papers and walked them to the next group, and the process repeated.
Each group read two sets of papers today, and tomorrow they will read the remaining three. Then we will compare their “best” choices and discuss their justifications. As Gallagher mentions, and as I found last year, the same papers are typically picked by almost every group, and for similar reasons.
Today, we shared a few reasons for what made papers good, and they included things like:
- good details
- good action
- cool words
- good handwriting (they do appreciate being able to actually read the paper!)
- no errors
We’ll see what other descriptors students add tomorrow….we’ll add those thoughts to our writing journals and then students will work on a final draft (the ones they read were second drafts).
What peer editing strategies do you use? If you haven’t used ‘read around groups,’ I hope you’ll give them a try!
For more ELA, check out this blog post about daily language review.