Have you given up on peer editing entirely as a result?
I’d like to invite you to change up your approach a bit, and try again.
Maybe the writers you are working with aren’t the problem. Maybe your peer editing protocol is.
Two Quick Steps Toward Powerful Peer Editing Experiences:
Identifying what kids can do and placing them in heterogenous editing groups is the first step. Determining each student’s editing strengths is a piece of cake. Using previous writing samples or surveying students provides good information about their capabilities. Some students may know how to find and correct more complex errors, while others may know that the first letter in each sentence must be capitalized and that paragraphing is necessary.
Once heterogenous groups are established, each editor can be assigned tasks that match his or her expertise. As writers meet in groups of 4 or 5, writers may pass their papers round-robin fashion around the group to receive targeted support from their peers that will improve their use of conventions. Conversations might also take place around word choice and sentence fluency at this time as well, although these traits should be introduced by teachers and considered by writers during the drafting phase of the writer’s process.
As you begin building your student’s understandings of conventions, you might find the resources provided by the Purdue University Online Writing Lab helpful. Teachers I know also enjoy sharing these videos with their students.