Revision and Peer Editing

Author: Jill Torrey Emmons

Time: 1 class period
15 minutes
Materials: Copies of “Peer editing Checklist” for each student


Now that students have had the opportunity to proofread their work for minor errors in spelling and grammar, they will work together in order to edit the content of their final project essays. The class should already have experience with editing, but the instructor will review some of the basic steps involved, including cutting unnecessary material, adding further explanations, developing ideas, and rewording text to achieve greater clarity of meaning. As students work together during the peer editing exercise, they will gain valuable feedback from an unbiased reader who can help point out the strengths and weaknesses of the essay as a whole. Students will offer constructive suggestions on how their peers’ essays may be improved. Students will then make necessary revisions.

Purpose – The purpose of this lesson is for students to explain the strengths and weaknesses in a given essay and offer constructive criticism in order to improve their peers writing.

Students will be able to:
1. Evaluate their peers’ essays to determine clarity, completeness, and persuasiveness.
2. Revise their own essays for greater clarity and fluency, adding explanation where needed and cutting extraneous information where appropriate.

National English Education Standard
Standard 6: Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and non-print texts.

Teacher Background
Teachers should be aware of successful peer-editing strategies and be able to guide students in the evaluation of their peers’ work. Be sure to encourage students to offer not only constructive criticism but also praise, pointing out the strengths of the essays they are critiquing.

Related and Resource Websites



1. As students are coming in the door, hand each a copy of the “Peer Editing Checklist”. Instruct the class to take out their essay drafts and to write their name on their checklist sheet. Clearly explain what is expected of the peer editing session before you begin (students should already have some experience with this activity- if not, explain the way the procedure is to be carried out). Students should look around the room and find a person they would feel comfortable sharing their writing with (depending on your class, you may wish to assign peer editors). Once students are in pairs, they are to trade essays and read over their peer’s work carefully and thoughtfully, making comments and corrections (on the essay itself if it is agreeable to the author). Each student should complete a peer editing checklist as they read, and then write two strengths and two weaknesses (or areas that need improvement). Remind the students that their commentary should be constructive. Allow students to get into pairs and peer edit for about 15-20 minutes.

2. As students finish, each should end up with the peer checklist filled out by his or her peer editor (students should therefore trade checklists when they return their essays to their partners). Have students take the next portion of class (10-15 minutes) to make corrections in their work as suggested by their peer editors. The remaining class time can be used for making essay corrections and revision.

At the end of the period, have students take out a sheet of paper and write down two things that they learned from the peer editing exercise. Have them turn these in to you.

Students should work on making corrections in their rough drafts and writing their final drafts of the project essay.

Embedded Assessment

During class, the instructor can float around the room to see that students are offering constructive commentary and suggestions for improvement. Evidence of editing should be visible on the rough drafts, and final drafts should be cohesive with minimal errors.


PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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