Step #1: Set the activity up by sharing model writing related to the genre you are teaching. Then review the rubric, point by point, with the students, agreeing upon criteria for effective writing.
Step #2: Tell students that peers will be reading their drafts and selecting “finalists” that do the best job of meeting the criteria. The writing itself can be assigned in class or for homework.
Step #3: Once the drafts are complete, have the students place a four digit non-consecutive numbers on the page instead of their names. Put the students into read-around groups. Everyone participates and there are two assigned group helpers: the passers and the recorder. After everyone has read all papers handed to a group the recorder records the number of the paper “the group” agrees best meets the criteria. On the teacher’s signal the passer passes all papers to the next group.
Step #4: Before reading begins, make sure every student has a copy of the rubric on hand. Remind them in no uncertain terms that they are selecting the one paper in their collection that best demonstrates the criteria for good writing as delineated on that rubric. They are not to select a work because it is funny or outlandish or because they ferreted out that their friend wrote it.
Step #5: Depending on the length of the average paper, choose a short amount of time students will have to read before they must pass the paper clockwise. I usually pick one minute. If any student has not finished a particular draft in that time, she must pass it anyway. In a minute, she should get the gist. Good writing will strut its stuff in short order, I assure them.
Step #6: Once students have read all papers, give students 3 to 5 minutes to choose the best.
Step #7: Each group should signal that they have agreed upon a “winner.” Then, the papers are passed to the next group. Continue until students have read all papers except the papers in their original group.
Step #8: After groups have read all papers, write a group name for each group on the white board and record the numbers listed from each group. If the students understood the rubric criteria, the same papers will be selected by all groups with slight variations. Identify the numbers that were selected more often, read those papers and have students explain why they were selected. Students may also discuss what would make the writing better in meeting the criteria. Ask the top writers to identify themselves and so the class can celebrate their work.