Three Ways to Foster Effective Peer Feedback

Feedback is important to help our young learners continue to grow.  This includes feedback from teachers as well as feedback from peers.  Today, I am talking specifically about peer feedback.  Peer feedback can be very powerful if it is done effectively, and it can be integrated in many different  areas of the classroom. “Peer review facilitates the type of social interaction and collaboration that is vital for student learning.” (from ReadWriteThink)

As teachers, we are always working to give students the feedback they need to move forward.  Ideally, our students will do the same for each other.  I have found that modeling, providing visuals, and direct coaching can all be effective in improving peer feedback.


One of the ways I model feedback is when we are sharing our work in math.  The goal for these feedback sessions is to give two compliments and one suggestion to whomever is sharing their work.  It can be a challenge at times for students to find a compliment for an incorrect answer or a suggestion for a correct answer.  This is a great opportunity to get students more invested in studying each others’ processes, rather than just looking at the answer.  Here are a few examples of compliments and suggestions that I model in the classroom during this activity.

Compliments (for correct and incorrect answers)

*I like how you broke apart the numbers into tens and ones.

*I like how used a ten frame to solve the addition equation.

*I like how you showed that you counted by fives to get your answer.

*I like how you remembered to put a label on your answer.

*I like how you underlined the important information in the problem.

*I like how you showed all the steps on the number line.

Suggestions (for correct and incorrect answers)

*Show the step when you…

*Add a label to your answer.

*Start by writing the equation (if it’s a word problem).

*Underline important information in the problem.

*Next time try a different strategy, like…

*Check the part when you…  

Eventually, I stop giving the compliments and suggestions, and allow students to do this.  After sharing work, students choose three students to give feedback (two compliments & one suggestion).  The student then thanks the class.  As the year goes on, students get more used to the type of feedback that helps their peers, and they need less prompting.

If a student gives a compliment like, “You wrote very neatly.”  I agree with the compliment, and then I prompt the students to give an additional compliment about the mathematical thinking.

Provide Visuals

Visuals are great reminders for students.  In writing, students can use checklists to help decide how to compliment and offer suggestions.  Another thing I like to do is provide sentence starters.  In writing, the sentence starters are likely to be on a slide or an anchor chart.  

 I model how to use the sentence starters with my own writing or writing from a student.  Once the students have seen me give feedback, they use the prompts to provide feedback to their writing partners.  Below are two slides that I shared with students when doing a partner check in for our “How-to” writing projects.  Our big focus during this project was to make sure we had enough details and description for anyone to follow the directions.  (You can read more about How-to writing here.)

Direct Coaching

I started coaching partnerships more directly on their feedback after reading Jennifer Serravallo’s book, A Teacher’s Guide to Reading Conferences (HIGHLY recommended).  She devotes a section  on how to confer with partners.  In this section, she talks about teaching students how to help each other.  For example, instead of focusing on coaching a student to help them determine an unknown word, focus on coaching one partner to prompt the other like the teacher does.  Both partners benefit from this type of coaching.  One student is reminded of a strategy to help them problem-solve, and the other has learned about effective feedback and shown a higher level of understanding the concept.  Research shows that students truly learn when teaching others (Research Digest, 2018).

What are your favorite strategies to encourage effective peer feedback?  I’d love for you to share them.

Thank you!

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Teaching blogger for elementary teachers

Mary Wingert, licensed educator (K-12 Special Ed. & 1-8 General Ed)

I started teaching in 1993.   I have taught special education, fifth grade, and fourth grade.  I moved to second grade in 2015, and I am still there today.  

I believe in teaching strategies that are effective, differentiated, and engaging. I am looking forward to building a community of teachers who feels the same!  Read more here.