Breakdown Buddy Tips

Model, model, model.

You need to pull apart text samples as a whole class or small group. You can use some skills prompts to look for evidence, but make sure you take it slow and have looked at the piece first. Always try and predict what the students will find or what they will struggle with, so you can help guide them.

Use pieces that are varied text types as well. Focus on skills you have been covering in class so they are embedding or revising learning.

The first step is definitely focusing on self-assessment leading to peer assessment. How can they provide accurate and deep feedback on others, if they don’t have the confidence to dig deeper analysing their own writing. Asking your staff to write down a positive piece of feedback about their teaching that day to share with a colleague, say during a staff meeting will make the majority of them extremely self-conscious and uncomfortable. But it will demonstrate what their students will feel in this task, so go slow and build up skills.

Use supports and guides, but the best guide, prompts or questions will come from class discussions after each mini-session, so use what I say as an example only.

So I always start by asking students to list three WWW and three EBIs on their own BW or BT. After that, I ask them to highlight or mark their proudest WWW comment and their easiest fix EBI comment.

Next, they take turns to share their piece and all their comments with their assigned buddy, explaining which two they chose to highlight and why. They discuss how they can change/fix/add their EBI to improve the piece and then actually do it, re-reading that section/s to check -they can ask their buddy for help with the EBI fix if they need support, but if they have to be fully taught the skill, then it’s not a good weekly focus goal. Focus goals are reminders you want to embed or skills you are almost independent in.

I usually ask them to discuss why they chose that one WWW and one EBI to highlight. Some prompts I might use are:

  • Why did you choose this EBI as your focus?
  • Does it make an impact to fix this skill?
  • How will you remember to add this during writing or self-editing time?
  • What is this WWW the one you are most proud of?
  • How does it help your piece make a connection to the audience?

This leads to confidence in commenting one deeper WWW and EBI on a buddy’s piece when they are quick and accurate on the above steps. By this stage they have spent a few weeks doing three and three of their own, they know what makes impactful feedback and what is surface level.  

I’ll add some guide examples to the documents soon.