Responding to Student Writing
Relate to writers as a reader.
The more students think of themselves as writers and responders as readers, the more they can make genuine
Explain and make explicit the response process.
If writers understand the rationale behind response and know what to expect by seeing the process modeled,
they are likely respond positively to it.
If students help guide the response, they are more likely to retain a sense of authorship.
All writers, but especially students, benefit from having only one-two priorities to address at a time to avoid
Arranging responses from general to specific or ending with the overall response helps writers hear and
make sense of the response.
Making the most of what is already working or beginning to work is easier to do than undoing or starting
Sequence responses from global to local issues.
Responding first to idea-level features such as claim, evidence, and organization before taking up local
issues such as editing helps honor writer’s meaning.
Explore multiple forms of response.
Trying out various response formats helps address various learning and listening styles.
1. Use language to highlight writer-reader relationship, e.g. giving“reader response” rather than
“correcting” or “peer editing.”
2. Do response protocols demonstrating aloud what’s happening mentally while reading.
3. Ask students to do cover memos that state their one main writerly questions about a draft.
4. Together, compose a set of response ground rules that establish writer and reader expectations.
5. Give students opportunities to self-assess using same criteria used by classmates/ instructor.
6. Use a simple response format: 1) Overall claim that draft makes 2) Point/place of strength and why, and
3) Questions lingering for you as a reader.
7. Give low stakes responses first (ones that probe at meaning) and high stakes responses later (ones that
evaluate writing according to specific criteria).
8. Separate response from grades (e.g. attach response to draft; post grades on Blackboard at same time.)
9. Experiment with a range of response formats such as written, oral, audio-taped, mixed (using Jing).
See a “Sampler of Reader Responses” for a spectrum of responses available.
10. Urge writers to get multiple readers including Writing Center ones.
*** See the Writing Instruction Support website for additional resources http://www.wwu.edu/wis/
Compiled by Carmen Werder from various sources