Archive for the ‘Revising’ Category

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Tracking Revision

posted: 4.3.08 by Barclay Barrios

As they work on revising a draft, ask your students to turn on the track changes function in Microsoft Word (or any other similar feature in other word processors).  Have them submit their revised drafts electronically so that you’ll be able to see the extent of the changes in the draft.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Drafting, Revising, Teaching with Technology
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Visual Peer Review

posted: 3.28.08 by Barclay Barrios

Bring in a pile of different-colored highlighters for peer review.  You can have students use these to visually identify elements of a draft.  For example, students might highlight summary in one color and analysis in another or they might highlight the quotations.  With this strategy students can see at a glance what they’re doing in their drafts.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Document Design, Peer Review, Revising
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Bad Cover Letters

posted: 3.18.08 by Barclay Barrios

There are a number of sites on the Web with examples of bad cover letters. Have your students review the material on cover letters in the handbook and read these examples of what not to do. Use this to prompt a discussion about the important elements of a cover letter or ask your students to revise a bad cover letter to make it more effective.

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Categories: Business Writing, Document Design, Revising, Teaching with Technology
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5 things I do with email

posted: 2.28.08 by Barclay Barrios

About 90% of my job as Director of Writing Programs involves writing and responding to emails. In fact, I answer so much email for a living that my friends know better than to email me—I rarely have the energy to answer emails at home. For me, email is both boon and bane. It’s also ineluctable, and so I’ve given a lot of thought to the role I want it to play in my teaching. Here are some of the practices I use to make it more boon than bane:

1. Create clear email policies

When I am orienting our new teachers, I stress the importance of good email hygiene, which includes a clear statement of email policies on their syllabi. For starters, I encourage them all to separate personal and work email by using their university email address for teaching and a separate email account for personal email. Otherwise, they’re going to be confronted with student emails when they really want to be answering an email from their best friend. Then, I ask them to include information on their syllabus about accepting work through email (I will do so only if the student has made arrangements with me in advance and only if a paper copy is provided the next class) and the times they check email (I only do so while in the office and never on weekends). Setting these boundaries from the start guards sanity while providing students reasonable electronic access to you.

2. Student email addresses

In my business and technical writing classes, I often discuss the importance of a professional email address. Many students will create resumes that include a personal email address that may create a poor impression on future employers. In order to help students realize the potential damage an informal email address can do to their future careers, ask them to research the problem on the Web—a search for “unprofessional email address” is a good start. Have them bring in examples of inappropriate email addresses, which can generate a lot of laughs in class, but then also have students alone or in collaborative groups create a list of resources for free email or tutorials on setting up a new email account.

3. Audience awareness in email

We’ve probably all received email from students with informal syntax, grammar, and spelling. Have students review the material in their handbooks on audience, tone, and (if available) electronic correspondence. Bring in some examples of these emails (with identifying information removed) to use in a discussion about these issues. Work with your students to determine the appropriate tone to use in emails to you but also use this as an opportunity to discuss writing to an audience in general.

4. Spam revisions

One really fun way to work on issues of grammar is to bring in some examples of email spam for students to revise. For homework or in small groups in class, ask students to first identify any errors in the spam and then to revise it.

5. Informal peer groups

Email is a quick and easy way for students to work and collaborate outside of class. Assign students to email peer groups, having all members of the group trade email addresses. Then have students email small portions of their drafts to each other over the course of an assignment—perhaps just the introduction. Working through email creates a peer group that can be available as students work on their drafts; sending only small pieces of the paper keeps the workload manageable and targeted.

How does email impact your teaching? Do you use it in class?

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Business Writing, Revising, Teaching Advice, Teaching with Technology
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Say What You Mean

posted: 10.22.07 by Barclay Barrios

I’ve found that syntax problems in student writing often result from their attempts to sound academic or to express a complex and exciting idea in too compressed a space. I tell students “Say what you mean” and encourage them to do that by reviewing material in the handbook on tone, conciseness, and jargon or, just as usefully, but having them reflect on the writing styles of the essays we read, which often use plain language to express very complex ideas.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Drafting, Grammar & Style, Revising
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Hyper Paper Text

posted: 4.9.07 by Barclay Barrios

Ask students to review the material in the handbook on organization. Then have them come to class with a copy of their current draft in which they have circled key words in their writing and drawn lines connecting them. How does this design impact the experience for you and for the reader? Are the connections among the ideas in the text of the essay visible to peers, and, if not, how can they revise to make them so?

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Categories: Drafting, Learning Styles, Revising, Writing Process
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Reverse Drafting

posted: 3.21.07 by Barclay Barrios

Have students review the material in the handbook on drafting and revising. Because students often see a published piece of writing as always-already perfect, ask them to imagine earlier and earlier drafts of the essay they’re currently reading. How do they think the author started? What areas do they think needed the most revision? And how can they take these lessons back to their own writing?

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Drafting, Revising
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Citing Error

posted: 3.21.07 by Barclay Barrios

Before a draft is due, ask students to proofread their essays for grammatical errors. If they find any, they should copy them to a new sheet, correct the errors, and then provide MLA citations for the pages of the handbook that support those corrections.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Citing Sources, Drafting, Grammar & Style, Proofreading/Editing, Punctuation & Mechanics, Revising
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Topic Sentence Paragraphs

posted: 2.21.07 by Barclay Barrios

Have students review the material in the handbook on topic sentences, paragraphs, and transitions. Then ask them to take all topic sentences from their current draft and copy/paste them into a new document to make a paragraph composed of these topic sentences. Ideally, this paragraph will be readable with some basic flow. Use these topic sentence paragraphs to open a discussion of transitions, topic sentences, and paper organization.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Drafting, Revising, Teaching with Technology
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Really Using the Passive Voice

posted: 2.5.07 by Barclay Barrios

Have students review the section of the handbook on active and passive voice. Using a key passage from the current reading and working in small groups, have students revise each sentence in the passage into passive voice. (This will require them to identify the subject, the verb, and any objects.) Then use these revised passages in a discussion about the essay. Is the argument weaker when in passive voice? Are concepts clearer? Why or why not? Discuss how they might then use this strategy to check for fragments in their own drafts.

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Categories: Argument, Collaboration, Grammar & Style, Revising
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