Scaffolding for Position Paper: Peer Feedback and Citing Sources | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G7:M4A:U3:L4

Scaffolding for Position Paper: Peer Feedback and Citing Sources

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • With support from peers and adults, I can use a writing process to ensure that purpose and audience have been addressed. (W.7.5)
  • I can use a standard format for citation. (W.7.8)

Supporting Targets

  • I can work with peers to get feedback on my claim, supporting evidence, and specific questions I have about the frame of my writing.
  • I can use MLA format to cite sources within my writing and on a Works Cited page.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Position Paper Planner
  • Peer Feedback Form


AgendaTeaching Notes

1.  Opening

A.  Entry Task: Paper Planner and Learning Target Review (5 minutes)

2.  Work Time

A.  Peer Feedback Pairs (30 minutes)

B.  Mini Lesson: MLA Format (8 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment

A.  Was Your Prediction Correct? (1 minute)

B.  Collect Position Paper Planners (1 minute)

4.  Homework

A.  Complete the MLA Citation Reference Sheet: In-Text Citations practice questions.

B.  Draft a Works Cited page for your position paper.

C.  Reread the model essay "Facebook: Not for Kids." Highlight where the author explains the background on brain science.


  • This is the second in a series of "talk-through" lessons that take place before students are asked to draft their position paper as the Mid-Unit 3 Assessment in the next lesson. In the previous lesson, students were asked to talk through and improve their body paragraphs. Today, students complete this process by summarizing the entire paper for two peers. The peers provide feedback by completing feedback response forms, which they then give to the writer.
  • Students also receive reference sheets for MLA (Modern Language Association) format for parenthetical citations and a Works Cited page.
  • Only five categories of citations on the Works Cited reference sheet are given; it is anticipated that these five will cover most sources students will use in their research. If a student has a source that does not fit into these four categories, consider using MLA sources available to you to develop the proper format, such as
  • Some sources used in the unit are also in categories beyond the five listed on the student reference sheet. If a student chooses to cite one of these, guide their work with citing the source by using the Teacher's Guide: MLA Citation chart. Again, the goal here is not perfection with the MLA format, but a general exposure to the importance of and format for citation. Based on the needs of your class, consider when and how to further reinforce these skills.
  • As of 2009, MLA Works Cited citations no longer require URLs to be listed, although it provides guidelines for how to do so, if a professor or teacher requires it. This lesson uses these guidelines, since students at this grade level often require practice in citing all aspects of their sources. However, use your professional judgment in determining whether this step is necessary for your classes.
  • Bear in mind that although MLA in-text citations are very simple, forming Works Cited citations can be  "nitty-gritty" work. Students should strive to get a basic sense of how to do this. But as the recommended times indicate, keep the emphasis of the lesson as a whole on the Peer Feedback protocol.
  • The peer feedback protocol used here is multi-step, tightly connected through a series of written and oral questions, and consists of covering a significant amount of material within a short period of time. It requires teachers to time the feedback protocol strictly and keep students focused on the task.
  • If needed, shorten the length of Work Time A might to review the model and mini lessons centered on its components.
  • Consider implementing the MLA Book Citation Scramble (in Work Time B) as a timed race to generate energy and engagement after this intensely focused lesson.
  • In advance:

-   Review the Peer Feedback protocol; consider ahead of time how you will monitor and time its steps.

-   Cut out sets of the MLA Book Citation Scramble, one set per triad of students, and paperclip them together or place in a small plastic bag.

-   Consider posting the Peer Feedback protocol on chart paper for student reference.

-   Post: Learning targets.


applicable, claim, evidence, parentheses


  • Position Paper Planner (from Lesson 2)
  • Peer Feedback Form (two per student)
  • Peer Feedback Guidelines (one per student and one to display)
  • Document camera
  • Domain-Specific Vocabulary anchor chart (begun in Unit 1, Lesson 1)
  • Peer Feedback protocol (one to display)
  • MLA Citation Reference Sheet: Works Cited Page (one per student and one to display)
  • MLA Citation Reference Sheet: In-Text Citations (one per student and one to display)
  • MLA Book Citation Scramble (one per triad of students)
  • MLA Book Citation Scramble (answers, for teacher reference)
  • MLA Citation Chart (one per student)
  • MLA Citation Chart: Teachers' Guide (for teacher reference)
  • MLA Citation Reference Sheet: In-Text Citations Practice Questions (one per student)
  • MLA Citation Reference Sheet: In-Text Citations Practice Questions (answers, for teacher reference)
  • Model position paper "Facebook: Not for Kids" (from Lesson 1)


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Entry Task: Paper Planner and Learning Target Review (5 minutes)

  • Have students take out their Position Paper Planner. Let them know that today they will be "talking through" their papers with their peers to get feedback and improve their work. Remind them that they have already done this once in the previous lesson with their body paragraphs; today, they will summarize the whole paper for their peers.
  • Remind them that in the next lesson they will officially draft their position papers as the Mid-Unit 3 Assessment.
  • Inform students they will now have 4 minutes to silently review their work on the Position Paper Planner. Ask them to identify two places on the planner where they would like peer feedback. These places may be where the student is unsure about what he or she has written, has a question, or simply would like the opinion of peers. Using the space on page 4 of their Position Paper Planners underneath the Counterclaim section, have students note these two places, and the specific questions they have.
  • Assure students there are no "right" or "wrong" places to ask for feedback, and to trust their knowledge of their own writing to figure out places where peer feedback would be useful.
  • Circulate to offer individual assistance if needed.
  • After 4 minutes, direct students' attention to the posted learning targets and invite students to read them aloud:

*   "I can work with peers to get feedback on my claim, supporting evidence, and specific questions I have about the frame of my writing. "

*   "I can use MLA format to cite sources within my writing and on a Works Cited page."

  • Ask students to turn to a partner and discuss the question:

*   "Today, where do I think I will experience the most challenge with these learning targets? Why?"

  • Wherever possible, have students who need physical activity take on active roles of managing and writing on charts or handing out the materials.
  • While circulating, be sure to address first those students for whom writing the paper has been a challenge. If you have already seen any places where errors have occurred in student work, or where particular students have struggled consistently, consider taking this time to suggest gently that these might be good places to solicit peer feedback.


Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Peer Feedback Pairs (30 minutes)

  • Arrange students in pairs.
  • Distribute two copies of the Peer Feedback Form to each student. Ask them not to write anything on the forms for the moment.
  • Model the peer process feedback, using the protocol as outlined below (see also Meeting Students' Needs).
  • Distribute and display the Peer Feedback Guidelines on a document camera. Review them orally with the students. Solicit examples of how the model peer feedback session followed these guidelines.
  • Point out that in the model, participants made heavy use of the vocabulary on the Domain-Specific Vocabulary anchor chart, and encourage students to do the same in their own conversations.
  • Answer any other questions students might have about the process.
  • Have triads decide who will be the first presenting student, and have peers fill in the top of the first Peer Feedback Form accordingly.
  • Ask the presenting student to let her peers know her two places or questions for feedback. Peers should note these on their feedback forms in the boxes labeled Peer Question 1 and Peer Question 2.
  • Briefly review the word applicable: if something applies. If the presenting student has a feedback question that is not a "yes/no" question, then the Yes/No column is not applicable and can be skipped.
  • Display and review the Peer Feedback protocol.
  • Invite students to begin. Monitor time carefully.
  • When students have finished their first round, conduct and time the second roundof feedback, allowing the second student to present her paper.
  • After stretches of intensive reading and writing where physical movement is not built into the instruction, consider having students stand up for a quick "brain break" or a physical stretch during natural breaks in the work time (between Work Times A and B, for example). Research indicates that these breaks are important for neurological growth, but especially for boys: Their cognitive processing requires more "rest times" away from the subject matter before re-engaging in learning.
  • Consider pre-arranging the peer feedback groups to best meet students' needs. Groups can be formed homogeneously or heterogeneously according to literacy level, to compare similar or different arguments in the position paper, or for other learning goals as determined by you.
  • There are multiple ways in which the peer feedback model can be designed and conducted to meet your students' specific needs. Consider the following options:
  • Have an outside adult with whom the students are familiar visit the class and deliver a model summary of a fictitious position paper. Direct students as a whole class through the peer feedback process with the adult. Consider especially having the librarian or an administrative figure such as your principal participate to demonstrate the importance of this kind of work.
  • Have two other adults work with you to demonstrate an ideal peer feedback process. This could be conducted live or filmed.
  • Also consider conducting a brief model of a poor peer feedback session. Students enjoy preparing and analyzing "reverse models"; it is an effective learning tool and provides a feeling of confidence and expertise for students.

B. Mini Lesson: MLA Format (8 minutes)

  • Distribute the MLA Citation Reference Sheet: Works Cited Page and the MLA Citation Reference Sheet: In-Text Citations.
  • Briefly review both reference sheets with the students. Emphasize the MLA Citation Reference Sheet: Works Cited Page, since this is the more complicated of the two and will be the basis for the majority of the homework for this lesson.
  • Make a strong note to the students that this work not only allows the writer's audience to follow the path of the writer's research, but also prevents unintentional plagiarism--it is essential to use citations to make sure that the audience knows to whom the ideas in the paper really belong.
  • Make sure students know the definition of parentheses, and provide it if needed (a curved punctuation mark used in writing to set off a remark or other information).
  • If time permits, have triads conduct the MLA Book Citation Scramble. If not, the scramble can be conducted for homework.
  • As mentioned in the Teaching Notes, this is a simplified version of MLA citation for student use; it is reviewed quickly. Consider how you might wish to further support students who are challenged by detail-oriented work such as citation: for example, creating a blank MLA Works Cited template, or building in editing time later in the unit that focuses specifically on the accuracy of citation. Also, consider referring students to Web sites that automatically create custom citations from a series of prompts, such as  

Closing & Assessments


A. Was Your Prediction Correct? (1 minute)

  • Have students turn to a partner and discuss whether their predicted area of challenge in the learning targets was, in fact, a challenge during this lesson or not, and why.

B. Collect Position Paper Planners (1 minute)

  • Collect Position Paper Planners from students; they will use them on the mid-unit assessment in Lesson 5.
  • Hand out the MLA Citation Chart. Explain that students will use this to help them draft a Works Cited page for homework. Point out that this is "nitty-gritty" work; they should do the best they can, using the information provided on the chart and their MLA Citation Reference Sheet: Works Cited Page, but shouldn't spend too much time striving for perfection. Use the MLA Citation Chart: Teacher's Guide to guide any questions or feedback on this homework.
  • Distribute the MLA Citation Reference Sheet: In-Text Citations practice questions for homework.


HomeworkMeeting Students' Needs
  • Complete the MLA Citation Reference Sheet: In-Text Citations practice questions.
  • Draft a Works Cited page for your position paper, using the MLA Citation chartas a guide.
  • Reread the model position paper "Facebook: Not for Kids." Highlight where the author explains the background on brain science.
  • See Meeting Students' Needs for Work Time B.

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