Peer Critique: Revising for Organization | EL Education Curriculum

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These are the CCS Standards addressed in this lesson:

  • W.3.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
  • W.3.2a: Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension.
  • W.3.2b: Develop the topic with facts, definitions, and details.
  • W.3.2d: Provide a concluding statement or section.
  • W.3.4: With guidance and support from adults, produce writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task and purpose.
  • W.3.5: With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.
  • SL.3.1: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • SL.3.1b: Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor in respectful ways, listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).

Daily Learning Targets

  • I can give kind, helpful, and specific feedback to my partner. (W.3.5, SL.3.1b)
  • I can critique the organization in my partner's informative paragraph. (W.3.2a, W.3.2b, W.3.2d, W.3.4, W.3.5, SL.3.1b)

Ongoing Assessment

  • Annotated informative paragraph draft (W.3.2a, W.3.2b, W.3.2d, W.3.4, W.3.5, SL.3.1b)


AgendaTeaching Notes

1. Opening

A. Engaging the Writer (10 minutes)

B. Reviewing Learning Targets (5 minutes)

2. Work Time

A. Modeling the Peer Critique Protocol (20 minutes)

B. Peer Critique: Organization (15 minutes)

3. Closing and Assessment

A. Annotating Drafts for Revision (10 minutes)

4. Homework

A. Respond to an informative writing prompt in your Unit 2 homework.

B. Accountable Research Reading. Select a prompt and respond in the front of your independent reading journal.

Purpose of lesson and alignment to standards:

  • In Opening A, students view a video about a boy named Austin who went through several rounds of critique when drafting a scientific drawing of a butterfly. The purpose of this video is to show students the benefits of giving and receiving critiques and to begin building the foundation of how to provide kind, helpful, and specific feedback.
  • In Work Time B, students provide feedback to partners on the organization of their informative paragraphs. Consider how familiar students are with the Peer Critique protocol and reallocate class time spent introducing it as necessary (W.3.2a, W.3.2b, W.3.2d, W.3.4, W.3.5, SL.3.1b).
  • Continue to reinforce the habits of character introduced in Unit 1, particularly as students give and receive peer critique.
  • The research reading that students complete for homework will help build both their vocabulary and knowledge pertaining to overcoming challenges in access to education, books, and reading near and far. By participating in this volume of reading over a span of time, students will develop a wide base of knowledge about the world and the words that help describe and make sense of it.

How it builds on previous work:

  • Students use what they know about the characteristics of informational texts to critique one another's informative paragraph drafts.
  • Throughout Unit 1, students were introduced to various total participation techniques (e.g., cold calling, equity sticks, Turn and Talk, Think-Pair-Share, etc.). When following the directive "Using a total participation technique, invite responses from the group," use one of these techniques or another familiar technique to encourage all students to participate.
  • Continue to use Goal 1 Conversation Cues to promote productive and equitable conversation.

Areas where students may need additional support:

  • Much of this lesson is discussion-based, so students who struggle with oral language and/or auditory processing may need additional support. Consider providing sentence frames for students to refer to during discussions or a note-taking template for students to take notes during discussion.

Assessment guidance:

  • Consider using the Writing Informal Assessment: Observational Checklist for Writing and Language Skills (grade 3) to informally assess the writing process in Work Time B.
  • Consider using the Speaking and Listening Informal Assessment: Collaborative Discussion Checklist during the Peer Critique protocol in Work Time B.

Down the road:

  • In the next lesson, students will use the Peer Critique protocol to give feedback on the purpose of the paragraphs and will revise their paragraphs based on their revision notes.
  • The Kenya Paragraph: Teacher Model contains intentional mistakes in spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. It will be used to model how to edit for conventions in the next lesson.
  • Students will plan, draft, revise, and edit a new informative paragraph for the End of Unit 2 Assessment in Lesson 11.

In Advance

  • Prepare:
  • Predetermine pairs for Work Time B.
  • Review the Thumb-O-Meter protocol. (Refer to the Classroom Protocols document for the full version of the protocol.)
  • Ask a student if he or she is willing to share his or her writing to help model the Peer Critique protocol.
  • Post: Learning targets, Peer Critique anchor chart, and Working to Become Ethical People anchor chart.

Tech and Multimedia

  • Opening A: Prepare technology necessary to view "Austin's Butterfly: Building Excellence in Student Work."
  • Consider that YouTube, social media video sites, and other website links may incorporate inappropriate content via comment banks and ads. Although some lessons include these links as the most efficient means to view content in preparation for the lesson, preview links and/or use a filter service, such as, for viewing these links in the classroom.
  • Work Time B: Audio critique: Students record their partners' ideas and feedback in audio through free software or apps such as Audacity or GarageBand.
  • Work Time B: Students use the highlighting and comments features on word-processing software to make suggestions on the work of peers.

Supporting English Language Learners

Supports guided in part by CA ELD Standards 3.I.A.1, 3.I.B.5, 3.I.A.4, and 3.I.C.10

Important points in the lesson itself

  • The basic design of this lesson supports ELLs with opportunities to practice using oral language in a structured and supportive environment. It also helps create habits of self-correction and revision, which foster skills that will facilitate English language development.
  • ELLs may find it challenging to provide peer feedback if they have trouble comprehending and using the language itself to understand their partners' writing. Model the process of providing feedback and offer opportunities to work together with students to think through the process. Students will benefit from developing this habit even if it is initially obscure.

Levels of support

For lighter support:

  • Provide students with only one or two prewritten sticky notes and several blank notes. Once they have used the prewritten notes, they will be challenged to make their own.

For heavier support:

  • During the video in the Opening, facilitate active listening by assigning students specialized questions to listen for. This will allow each student to take ownership of his or her own "piece of the puzzle." After the video, invite students to share what they learned. (Example: "Anton, I want you to remember one thing that somebody said about Austin's first butterfly drawing.")

Universal Design for Learning

  • Multiple Means of Representation: Students use the Peer Critique protocol in this lesson. All students will need explicit instruction on how to provide supportive, yet constructive feedback, but those who struggle with social skills may need additional support. Offer explicit examples of how to personify the Peer Critique norms. Consider creating a list of appropriate comments or offer sentence starters or role-playing during the modeled process in Work Time A.
  • Multiple Means of Action and Expression: To support students with the feedback process, consider giving them their partner's paragraph ahead of time so they can read it and think about what feedback they might provide. Additionally, consider providing sticky notes with prewritten comments that students can select based on their peer's writing.
  • Multiple Means of Engagement: Students who may need additional support with writing may feel uncomfortable sharing their writing with peers and receiving feedback. Create an inclusive and supportive classroom environment by emphasizing that everyone is working toward different writing goals. Place emphasis on growth rather than relative performance.


Key: Lesson-Specific Vocabulary (L); Text-Specific Vocabulary (T); Vocabulary Used in Writing (W)

  • critique, feedback, organization (L)


  • "Austin's Butterfly: Building Excellence in Student Work" (video; play in entirety; see Technology and Multimedia)
  • Vocabulary log (from Unit 1, Lesson 5; one per student)
  • Peer Critique anchor chart (begun in Unit 1, Lesson 10)
  • Working to Become Ethical People anchor chart (begun in Unit 1, Lesson 2)
  • Informational Texts handout (from Lesson 7; one per student and one to display)
  • Student informative paragraph draft (optional; one to display; see Teaching Notes)
  • Kenya paragraph draft (optional; one to display)
  • Sticky notes (several per student)
  • Informative paragraph draft (begun in Lesson 8; one per student)
  • Purple colored pencils (one per student)
  • Steps for Revising My Writing anchor chart (new; teacher-created; see supporting materials)


Each unit in the 3-5 Language Arts Curriculum has two standards-based assessments built in, one mid-unit assessment and one end of unit assessment. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize their understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Engaging the Writer (10 minutes)

  • Tell students that in a moment, they will watch a video about a drawing of a butterfly that a first-grade student named Austin created. Explain that as they watch, they will learn about how Austin's classmates helped him through making multiple drafts of his drawing to create a high-quality final product.
  • Tell students that as they watch, they should think about what they notice and what they wonder about the process that Austin went through to create his final drawing.
  • Play "Austin's Butterfly: Building Excellence in Student Work."
  • Invite students to Think-Pair-Share, leaving adequate time for each partner to think, ask the question to their partner, and partner share:

"What do you notice about Austin's process? What do you wonder?" (Responses will vary.)

  • If productive, cue students to expand the conversation by saying more:

"Can you say more about that?" (Responses will vary.)

  • If students do not notice on their own, point out that Austin was able to make his initial drawing much better through creating several drafts and through getting and applying feedback from his classmates.
  • Tell students they are going to watch part of the video again. As they watch, tell them to think about the kinds of advice Austin received that allowed him to make his drawing better with each draft. Replay the video from 5:11-6:04, pausing on Austin's six drafts.
  • Using a total participation technique, invite responses from the group:

"What kind of advice did the other students give that allowed Austin to get better with each draft?" (His classmates were specific about what was wrong with his draft, his classmates were kind, and his classmates kept giving him feedback with each draft.)

  • Tell students that today they will give and receive feedback about their informative paragraphs. Direct students' attention to Austin's six drafts displayed at 6:04 on the video. Tell them that the purpose of giving and receiving feedback is to help make the final product better. Just as Austin's classmates helped him take his first drawing and make it into a high-quality, scientific drawing, they will help each other take the first drafts of their paragraphs and make them into high-quality informational pieces.
  • For ELLs and students who may need additional support with comprehension: Play the video in its entirety twice. The first viewing and subsequent discussion will orient students to the gist of the video so that they can pay more attention to the details during the second viewing. (MMR, MMAE)
  • For ELLs and students who may need additional support with comprehension: Pause the video after 1 minute to model noticing and wondering things. Use sentence frames to support students as they notice and wonder. Examples:
    • "I notice that the butterfly drawing became _____."
    • "I notice that the teacher said _____."
    • "I wonder if Austin felt _____."
    • "I wonder if Austin tried _____." (MMR, MMAE)
  • For ELLs and students who may need additional support with comprehension: Buy or ask for large paint chips from a local hardware or paint store or print them online. Write the words specific, exact, precise, and explicit, each on a different shade of the paint chip. Place them on the wall and discuss the shades of meaning in relation to peer feedback. (MMR)

B. Reviewing Learning Targets (5 minutes)

  • Direct students' attention to the posted learning targets and select a volunteer to read them aloud:
    • "I can give kind, helpful, and specific feedback to my partner."
    • "I can critique the organization in my partner's informative paragraph."
  • Point to the first target and tell students that just like Austin's classmates, they will learn how to give helpful and specific feedback about one another's writing in a kind way. Underline the word critique and tell students that this is another way of saying kind, helpful, and specific feedback.
  • Add this word to the Academic Word Wall and invite students to record it in the front of their vocabulary log, as it is a word they will hear frequently in relation to skills.
  • Point to the second target and tell students that today they will give and receive critique about the organization, or order, of their paragraphs.
  • Remind students that they thought about the order of their paragraph as they planned and drafted by thinking about what made sense to tell the reader first in their paragraph and how each part of the paragraph related to the next part. Point out that if their paragraph is not clearly organized, their reader will have a difficult time understanding the focus or main idea.
  • For ELLs and students who may need additional support with comprehension: To check for and reinforce comprehension of the learning targets, invite students to rephrase them in their own words. (Example: "Can you tell me the first learning target in your own words?" (I can help my partner improve her paragraph.)
  • For ELLs and students who may need additional support with writing: Clarify organization and order by referencing the colors in the color-coding system. Say: "Make sure the red introduction sentence comes before the orange focus statement." (MMR)

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Modeling the Peer Critique Protocol (20 minutes)

  • Direct students' attention to the Peer Critique anchor chart and remind them what peer critique looks and sounds like.
  • Focus students on the Working to Become Ethical People anchor chart and remind students that ethical people who treat others well and stand up for what is right. Direct students' attention to the following bullet points on the anchor chart:
    • "I show empathy."
    • "I behave with integrity."
    • "I show respect."
    • "I show compassion."
  • Tell students that to effectively critique their partner's draft, they will need to remember these habits of character and what it looks and sounds like to practice them.
  • Invite students to take out their Informational Texts handout. Ask them to silently reread the handout and identify which bullet point(s) they should refer to for today's critique on organization. (the seventh bullet point: Informational texts introduce the topic with a focus statement, develop the topic with evidence such as facts and details, and end with a concluding statement or section.)
  • Model the Peer Critique process using the student informative paragraph draft or the Kenya paragraph draft:
    • Tell students they are going to hear the draft read aloud. As they listen, they should think about the feedback they might provide the author, using the sentence stems on the Peer Critique anchor chart.
    • Invite the student volunteer to slowly read aloud his or her paragraph.
    • Invite other students to provide feedback on the organization of the paragraph.
    • As students share feedback, actively refine their praises and suggestions to make them as kind, helpful, and specific as possible.
    • Model making revision notes on the displayed draft based on the critique. Explain that students will make these revision notes to their own drafts after they participate in the protocol.
  • For ELLs: Invite students to model giving kind feedback in their native languages. Ask: 

"What are some kind things you can say in your native languages that might help someone?" (buen trabajo--"good job"--in Spanish)

  • For ELLs and students who may need additional support with comprehension: Invite students to give examples of what it means to be an ethical person. Ask: 

"What is something somebody who is showing compassion might do?" (say "I'm sorry" and give someone a tissue if he or she is crying; say nice things, not bad things, when critiquing a partner's writing and talk about how the writing can be even better) (MMR)

  • Provide a list of examples of possible feedback sentences that model the norms for the Peer Critique protocol. Solicit additional examples from students. (MMR)
  • Consider allowing some students to read their partner's informative paragraph ahead of time or provide extra time. This will allow them ample time to process the text and formulate appropriate feedback. (MMAE)

B. Peer Critique: Organization (15 minutes)

  • Distribute sticky notes. Tell students that as they listen to their partner read his or her paragraph, they will document their feedback on sticky notes.
  • Invite students to take out their informative paragraph draft and move into predetermined pairs.
  • Focus students on the Peer Critique anchor chart and remind them to use this anchor chart as a guide as they participate in the protocol.
  • Guide students through the peer critique.
  • Circulate to support partners as they exchange feedback. Remind students to follow the discussion norms and to focus on giving feedback about how the paragraph is organized.
  • Refocus whole group.
  • Tell students they are going to use the Thumb-O-Meter protocol to reflect on their progress toward the learning targets. Remind them that they participated in this protocol in the previous lesson and review as necessary. (Refer to the Classroom Protocols document for the full version of the protocol.)
  • Guide students through the Thumb-O-Meter protocol using the learning targets. Note students showing a thumb-sideways or thumb-down, so you can check in with them. Repeat, inviting students to self-assess against how well they showed respect, empathy, compassion, and integrity in this lesson.
  • For ELLs and students who may need additional support with expressive feedback: Provide students with prewritten sticky notes containing phrases that would commonly apply to writing feedback. This will allow students who may be challenged to think of and write feedback to choose the most comments for their partners. Examples:
    • "Can you explain this more?"
    • "What is the challenge?"
    • "Great example!" (MMAE)
  • For ELLs: Pair students with a partner who has more advanced or native language proficiency. The partner with greater language proficiency can serve as a model in the pair, initiating discussions and offering feedback suggestions.
  • Provide differentiated mentors by purposefully pre-selecting student partnerships. Consider meeting with the mentors in advance to encourage them to share their thought processes with their partner. (MMAE)

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Annotating Drafts for Revision (10 minutes)

  • Distribute purple colored pencils.
  • Direct students' attention to the Steps for Revising My Writing anchor chart and tell them they will follow the steps on this chart to make revision notes on their drafts, based on the feedback from the critique.
  • Select a volunteer to read the steps aloud. Remind students that they watched you make revision notes on the display draft during the model round of the Peer Critique protocol.
  • Invite students to use the colored pencils to add revision notes to their informative paragraph drafts.
  • Circulate to confer and support as needed. Consider using this time to check in with students who showed a thumb-sideways or -down in Work Time A.
  • For ELLs and students who may need additional support with writing: To facilitate the revision process for students who have trouble writing within the allotted time, consider scribing for them as they dictate their ideas. (MMAE)
  • Provide extra time as necessary for students to write down and comprehend the peer feedback that they received before working on their informative paragraph. (MMAE)


HomeworkMeeting Students' Needs

A. Respond to an informational writing prompt in your Unit 2 homework.

B. Accountable Research Reading. Select a prompt and respond in the front of your independent reading journal.

  • For ELLs and students who may need additional support with writing: Discuss and respond to your prompts orally, either with a partner, family member, or student from grades 1 or 2, or record a response. (MMAE)

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