Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Ideal Readers: My Students Give ME Writing Feedback!

After following Kimberley Moran's journey with the Institute of Children's Literature's Writing for Children and Teens writing course, I decided to give it a go myself.

My first assignment was to write a 500 - 750 word story based on one of three pictures. I wrote and wrote -- and rewrote and rewrote -- my story.. Finally, I had a finished product that satisfied me, but fell short of thrilling me. I wasn't sure exactly what about the story didn't sit right with me, but I knew there was something.

Lucky for me, I teach a room full of ideal readers (10 year olds) that could help me out by reading my story and giving me their feedback. Problem solved!

In our classroom, we provide writing feedback using the TAG method:
Tell something you like
Ask a question
Give a suggestion

When a student finishes a piece of writing, they find someone to "TAG" it. Reader feedback can be so valuable to a writer, and we have spent a lot of time learning how to give meaningful feedback that can help the writer make revisions. (In other words "I like it" and "This was good" are not helpful.) 

So on Friday, it was my turn to have my writing tagged by 20 readers.

It was the best move I could have made.

My students worked in partners to pour over my writing. They knew how important this course was to me and asking them to participate in making it a successful experience was a job they took very seriously.

After about 20 minutes, I called the group back together to give me their feedback.  They noticed some amazing things about my writing that had even slipped past me. The questions they asked and suggestions they made were both thoughtful and helpful. I now realize what it was that didn't quite sit right with me and have a plan to fix it in revision.

But sharing my writing and asking my students for help did more than just help me improve my writing.

It empowered my students.

A win-win for all of us.


  1. Being a teacher who writes brings things to a whole new level, eh?

  2. Yes on sharing your own journey with your students! And yes, on opening up your writing for their eyes and comments! Thank you for sharing this post today .. a good reminder that we teachers should be writers, too, and not just the polished kind but the kind of writers that are always in process and always in motion.

  3. Thank you for sharing this post. It reminded me that we need to be open to first doing ourselves what we ask our children to do - in this case writing and giving constructive feedback. Love the TAG idea too!

  4. "It empowered my students." Isn't this what it's all about?? :) I love your students felt confident enough to look objectively at your writing. What a great lesson! Thank you for sharing this with us!

  5. I love everything about this slice! Kudos to you for being brave enough to share your writing with your students. I too have found that their feedback can be valuable. I also love the "TAG" for conferencing. I'll place that in my toolkit of strategies.

  6. What a great idea! And how wonderful that your students took it so seriously, not being afraid to ask questions and give suggestions.

  7. Love that last line - the power of student voice!

  8. You are just one person in a room full of writers. What a great community you have developed!

  9. What a win-win indeed!! You are incredible model of the writerly life and allowed them to join you by being your audience. They will always remember this - especially when the book is published!!


  10. This truly is a win-win for all of you, Jennifer. The trust you gave to your students when you asked for their help is simply wonderful. Wishing everyone could read this post and learn from it! Maybe an article for NCTE journals?