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The Power of Critique and Redrafting

The Power of Critique and Redrafting

13 April, 2016

Critique enables students to learn from each other and become responsible for their own ideas.

It gives them a glimpse of how the real world would respond to their work, and insight into what is working and what needs redrafting. When the culture is right, students see critique as a gift to redraft their work and reach for a better outcome.

Audience Response is a talk protocol that used to empower students in critiquing each other’s work and then redrafting their own. Audience Response protocol is one of many oracy talk protocols that can be used daily practice, and it is believed that it’s adaptable for teachers across all subjects and levels to aid students in redrafting their work through critical talk.

By using a clear and concise response model to students’ work, the process allows them to express their views without directly offending or deflating their peers, and it enables them to receive feedback without reacting defensively.

This is a culture that grows over time. It is found that although students will fixate on trying to get their work “right” at first, after nurturing this approach to critique, they develop a growth mindset about their work and become open to improving it as part of their process.

Audience Response Protocol

  1. One group watches another group’s play or demonstration of their work.
  2. The group watching becomes a critical audience. They keep in mind what they think that the presenting group should keep, add, or take away.
  3. Once the play or presentation is over, the work is discussed. The audience sits in a circle with you, and the students being critiqued sit in an outer circle, facing the centre.
  4. Using the protocol of keep, add, and take away, the audience reacts critically to the play or work they’ve just seen. They may agree or disagree with each other, or build upon each other’s ideas, helping the presenters understand what’s working, what’s not working, and what they can change. The teacher’s own critique can be added during this time.
  5. One person from the outer circle will scribe the responses, and the rest will observe what the audience thinks of their work. At this point, it’s significant that the outer circle observes the reaction to their work without commenting about it.
  6. When introducing the Audience Response protocol, offer students sentence stems to help them become comfortable with critical language. Once students are accustomed to the language and critique process, they are encouraged to organize their own talk.
  7. At the end, those critiqued get a chance to first clarify anything that they feel needs clarification, and then express what aspects of their work they will redraft based on the critique obtained.
  8. The groups then swap. The presenters become the critical audience, and the critical audience members become the presenters.

Tips for Using the Audience Response Protocol

  1. It Takes Time to Build a Culture

The first time the protocol is implemented, it will probably go wrong. Students may find it strange or feel that they can’t help but respond out of protocol. This needs to be nurtured over time to perfect it. The teacher’s role — especially at the beginning — is important. Make sure that all students are engaged. If students speak out of protocol, stop and guide them back on track. Over time, students will lead the critique themselves.

  1. Hard on the Content, Soft on the Person

Model and insist on judging the ideas and not the person. As students learn to value being critiqued, this approach will come more naturally to them. A negative judgment like, “Sarah, I really think you shouldn’t do your monologue. I think you should change that,” becomes, “I think that Sarah’s monologue should be taken away. It would be better if they added a group scene here to include the reactions of all characters.” The one giving critique doesn’t look the person in the eye and criticize him or her. The critical audience is having a discussion with each other; it’s done in a safe protocol with a stress on what is best for the piece of art, not the person involved.

  1. Use the Feedback

There are instances wherein students forget the feedback and the work is not improving despite the opportunity to critique. The reason for this is that the students may not know what to do with the feedback. It is encouraged to record their feedback, and include their decision-making process on what will be redrafted within the Audience Response protocol. In step seven, students say three things that they’ll commit to change by the next session, and then the critique cycle continues. Audience Response protocol can be used on the same piece of work multiple times to continue redrafting and developing it.

Critique is embedded into a growth mindset culture. Instead of having students fixated on getting tasks done or being the best, by using critique protocols and nurturing the redrafting process, a culture that builds on the experiential development of making something rather than completing it is created.