|Tutoring (IAE - IBE - UNESCO, 36 p.)|
Help generate and map ideas; help scribe and edit rough drafts
Peer assessment of writing is increasingly common in schools (ODonnell & Topping, 1998). There are many descriptive reports of various kinds of collaborative writing, but few rigorous outcome studies involving school-age tutees. In Daiutes (1989) study of 9-12-year-old writing partners, it was clear they needed to be both planful (organized and controlled) and playful (exploring ideas and words). Daiute (1990) found boys successfully balanced play and control strategies, while girls tended to over-rely on control. Daiute & Dalton (1993) compared individual and collaborative writing in low-achieving 7-9-year-old children. They found both same-ability and cross-ability collaborative pairing had benefits.
The advice given here is based upon the paired writing model (Topping, 1995, 2001). This includes in a systematic way many elements widely accepted as good practice. Three major controlled studies of this method have been reported. One project involved 11-year-old tutors working with 5-year-old emergent writers (Nixon & Topping in press). The tutees improved significantly more than comparison children did. Another project involved same age tutoring with 8-year-olds (comparing fixed-role cross-ability and reciprocal-role same-ability tutoring) (Sutherland & Topping, 1999). Both tutors and tutees in both groups showed significant subsequent improvement in individual writing. However, the gains for tutors in the cross-ability group did not appear immediately. The third project involved same-age cross-ability tutoring with 10-year-olds (Yarrow & Topping, in press). Again, paired writers showed significantly greater gains than children who wrote alone, whether tutors or tutees.
· Generate ideas. Talk about the purpose and audience for the writing. Talk about the tutees ideas. Stimulate ideas by asking questions (such as Who? Do? What? To? With? Where? When? How? Why? - in any relevant order). Make brief one-word notes on the tutees ideas.
· Map ideas. Review the ideas. Have the tutee number the ideas in the best order. Or divide them into sections, and put the sections in order. Draw lines linking related ideas, making an ideas map. Use colours or underlining if it helps. This map forms a plan for the next step.
· Draft. From the map, begin to write a rough version of the text. The tutee should say what they want to communicate, while the tutor does as much of the actual writing down as the tutee needs. The tutor may: do all the writing; only write in the hard words; show the tutee how to write the hard words for the tutee to copy in; or only tell the tutee how to spell hard words. Do not worry about spelling, punctuation or grammar at this stage.
· Read. The tutor reads the draft aloud, with as much expression and attention to punctuation as possible. Then the tutee does the same.
· Edit. Look at the draft together. Have the tutee think about where improvements are necessary. The problem words, phrases or sentences can be marked with a coloured pen, pencil or highlighter. The most important area of need for improvement is where meaning is unclear. The second most important is to do with the organization of ideas, or the order in which meanings are presented. Only then consider whether spellings are correct, and last of all whether punctuation is helpful and correct. The tutor can then make any additional suggestions about changes. Remember to use the dictionary, if in any doubt.
· Best copy. It does not really matter who writes out the final best copy, because all the hard work is in the thinking before that stage. The tutor might do it, or the tutee, or both might do some, or someone else might word-process it from the edited and corrected draft. The best copy belongs to both tutor and tutee - both could sign it as authors.
· Evaluate. Perhaps later, the tutee and tutor inspect and evaluate their best copy. Best copies can be exchanged with other pairs for evaluation. Try to give more positive comments than critical comments. This should help the tutee think about how to improve next time.