Posts Tagged ‘Drafting’

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The “Craft” of Peer Revision: Part IV

posted: 4.29.15 by Barclay Barrios

In this series we’ve looked at a few ways to make the craft of peer revision more “crafty.”  All of these exercises tend to be a big hit in my classes and I usually end up with stronger papers to grade because of this work.

But why?  Why do students do this work so enthusiastically and so well?  I have some theories: [read more]

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Categories: Activity Idea, Drafting, Learning Styles, Peer Review, Revising, Teaching Advice, Writing Process
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The “Craft” of Peer Revision: Part III

posted: 4.22.15 by Barclay Barrios

So far in this series, we’ve looked at coloring (essentially that’s what they’re doing with highlighters), cutting, and taping.  In this part we’re going to move into drawing.

“Drawing the Argument” is one of my favorite class activities when discussing a new reading.  Working in groups, students draw the argument of the essay, locating quotations that support their visual interpretation. [read more]

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Categories: Activity Idea, Barclay Barrios, Drafting, Peer Review, Teaching Advice, Writing Process
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The “Craft” of Peer Revision: Part II

posted: 4.15.15 by Barclay Barrios

In my last post, I suggested ways to use highlighters in peer revision.  In this one, we’re moving into dangerous territory—dangerous because scissors are involved (no running!).

Bring a few pairs of scissors to class and some tape.  Ask students to cut up a copy of their paper into individual paragraphs and then to shuffle them.  (You can also ask them to do this part before class, bringing in the cut up paragraphs in an envelope.) Peers are given the individual slips of writing and then asked to put them in the right order, taping them back together. [read more]

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Categories: Activity Idea, Barclay Barrios, Drafting, Peer Review, Teaching Advice, Writing Process
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The “Craft” of Peer Revision: Part I

posted: 4.8.15 by Barclay Barrios

Though we have diverse approaches to teaching writing, my experience suggests that one of the commonalities we all share is some sort of peer feedback. Whether we call it peer revision or peer editing or something else, there seems to be wide agreement that seeking feedback is an important part of making writing better. The creative writers in my department would perhaps call this part of the “craft” of writing.  We are more likely to call it part of the writing process.  Regardless, in this series of posts I want to riff a bit on that notion of “craft” by sharing some peer revision strategies I use that are “crafty.” These exercises are all class-tested and Barclay-approved.  I have some theories on why they tend to work so well, which I will share in a later post. For now, though… highlighters! [read more]

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Categories: Activity Idea, Barclay Barrios, Drafting, Peer Review, Teaching Advice, Writing Process
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Word Clouds as Revision Tools

posted: 3.10.15 by Traci Gardner

Word clouds highlight the most frequently used words in a text, using larger font sizes for the words used most often and smaller sizes for those used less often. The word cloud below, created with Wordle, highlights the most frequently used words in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18:

These word clouds can become analytical tools as students look at the words used most frequently and notice which ones stand out. [read more]

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Categories: Activity Idea, Digital Writing, Drafting, Revising, Teaching with Technology, Traci Gardner
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“Felt Sense” and Expository Writing

posted: 9.24.14 by Barclay Barrios

I just finished rereading Sondra Perl’s essay “Understanding Composing” reproduced in the excellent Bedford resource Teaching Composition: Background Readings. I’m teaching Perl in our pedagogy course for new graduate teaching assistants, ENC 6700 Introduction to Composition Theory and Methodology; the essays forms part of a cluster of readings on drafting and audience. [read more]

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Learning by Writing

posted: 2.13.12 by archived

Some interesting work in composition research addresses the ways that writing represents an advanced form of thinking, conceptualization, and memorization. See, for instance, Janet Emig’s work on “Writing as a Mode of Learning.” Also, a few weeks ago, Wired magazine summarized a recent study showing that students actually study best by writing essays. The study originally appeared in the journal Science. As writing teachers, we often believe in the power of writing—and we try to communicate it to other teachers and to our students. I know I do. But I also know that sometimes I lose sight of an important fact.

Yes, it is so important to see writing “as a mode of learning,” or as a type of “higher-order thinking.” Otherwise, it is too easily seen as just a skill. But look a bit more closely at the recent Wired study. It shows that most students were best able to memorize information about a series of scientific articles that they read when they studied by writing a short essay about the articles. On average, writing worked much better than concept-mapping or other “elaborative studying” techniques. Writing an essay rather than creating a concept map, for most students, even prepared them to create better concept maps when they were later tested. You can’t get much better evidence for the power of writing than that. [read more]

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Categories: Jay Dolmage, Uncategorized
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How I Got Here, From There

posted: 9.10.10 by archived

The personal narrative assignment is the first prompt most college writers are given in writing class. I wrote about this assignment in a BITS post from the start of the Fall semester last year. At that time, I suggested some ways to alter the personal narrative assignment to encourage even greater originality (some example assignments included autoethnographies, audio narratives, literacy narratives, multigenre and multivocal variations, and so on). You can also access some ideas that I suggested for in-class writing (timelines and artifacts, as well as playlists, sketches, and storyboards). In today’s post, I suggest further personal narrative activities, inspired in part by a comic strip I used to read when I was a kid and by an article I recently read on

You might remember the Family Circus comic strip, a single panel staple of the Sunday funnies, now over fifty years old. One interesting, recurrent visual trope was a map of the path that one of the Family Circus kids (often Billy) took through the neighborhood in a given day. For some reason, I always loved these maps. The article in Slate, written by Julia Turner, discusses (and reprints) hand-drawn maps. (Other examples of this unique art form can be found on With the advent of the GPS, GoogleMaps, and MapQuest, it seems like the hand-drawn map could become obsolete, but Turner’s article makes an interesting case for the virtues of these sketches. I like the idea that a map can be about more than just traveling from point A to point B. Billy’s maps, for example, were really inventories of his imagination. [read more]

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Categories: Drafting, Jay Dolmage, 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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Below the Surface

posted: 10.9.06 by Barclay Barrios

In small groups, have students develop a definition of “surface error.” Ask them to come up with its opposite term, too: “deep error”? “subsurface error”? “serious error”? What marks the difference between the terms? Which one do they need to pay more attention to? At which stage of drafting should they focus on one or the other? And what parts of the handbook will help them with both?

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Collaboration, Drafting, Grammar & Style, Revising
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