Facilitative Commentary: Other Techniques


Elbow and Belanoff created a set of techniques originally designed to help peer-collaboration; however, a few work nicely as facilitative commentary methods (Holt 385).

Sayback: repeating what the writer has said. The repetition can be as small as a phrase or as large as a main idea. Teachers can use this method before asking a question, as discussed earlier, or while telling the writer that they find something confusing. For example, if having trouble following a student's train of thought, instead of stamping "unclear" in the margin, teachers can tell the student exactly what place in the paper is personally confusing. Reiterating what is understood in order to ask about what is not understood suggests to students that their papers are not being treated as generic writing; teachers are engaged and interested in their ideas.

What's almost said or implied: making writers aware of ideas or points that they suggest but never firmly state. One may then ask the writer to consider expanding the idea.

Believing and doubting: consists of two connecting parts. The first involves sayback and offering additional ideas and perceptions that add to the writer's arguments. Of course, this exercise borders on the line dividing ethical and unethical assistance. Teachers themselves do not want to do the writer's work, but they can suggest a point the writer did not consider. However, it is important to remember that the writer always makes the decision whether to include that point or not. The second part of believing and doubting involves providing counterarguments to the author's points. A valuable exercise especially in persuasive writing, it shows writers how people who hold the opposite view will respond to their paper. Being able to successfully answer the counterarguments create a stronger paper.

Movies of the reader's mind: has teachers tell writers their thoughts as they read, placing teachers in the role of a sounding board or mirror. This exercise makes students aware of how the reader sees and reacts to the paper. Sometimes students are so concerned with grammatical aspects of the paper that the presentation of the content goes unnoticed. Making the writer aware of what a reader sees could send them on the right track. Movies of the reader's mind informs writers if their work has had the desired effect on readers. (Example of technique)



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