Personal Revision and Editing: Content and Sentence-level Errors
In the seventies, the NCTE and US Composition Studies officially recognized that our students submit work of a higher quality when they have time to revise. Common sense tells us that timed or in-class writing assignments do not reflect the best possible writing attempts of anyone. When we re-read our work, we catch errors in logic, coherence, and grammar. However, timed-writing does prepare students for standardized writing exams. After learning to write by practicing timed-writing, many of our students are unfamiliar with the concept of reviewing their own work for anything more than quick-fix edits such as spelling or commas. Part of teaching writing as a process is teaching students to reconsider how they write, and ushering students from a 30 second proofreading to a thorough revision and edit is a complex responsibility. The resources reviewed here will help students focus on revision and editing as important steps in their writing processes.
Revising and Editing Writing Assignments
Pros: The first half of this source discusses revision of writing elements like clarity of ideas, reader interest, and everyone’s favorite—conclusions. The second half identifies proofreading errors.
Cons: This source tells students WHAT to look for, but it does not explain HOW to find or revise them.
NOTE: I included this link as an example of an incomplete source for students. If identifying and revising these elements of writing were instinctive, students would not need assistance.
Where Do I Begin?
Pros: The OWL at Purdue University. Consider this link as the “Overview,” and also look over the sub-points (“Beginning Proofreading,” “Proofreading for Errors,” “Proofreading Suggestions,” “Revising for Coherence,” and “Steps for Revising.” This will help when you discuss the difference between editing (for sentence-level problems) and revising (rewriting for clarity in sentences, paragraphs, and ideas). This site offers ready-made activities, and other questions within sub-sections can easily be adapted to create activities or assignments.
Cons: The “Steps for Revising” sections tells students to identify the main point (because this really is important), but it offers no advice for the student who discovers that she has no main point.
Pros: This is an excellent and well-written source that clearly shows students how they need to expand their understanding of revision. it is in the format of a FAQ page, and it addresses common concerns such as “But I thought revision was just fixing the commas and spelling!” “Why is revision important?” “Whoa! I thought I could just revise in a few minutes!” and “But I’ve worked so hard that I can’t afford to throw away any of it!”
Cons: This site views revision as the act of improving the overall paper, but it does not offer specific suggestions for the many different types of proofreading that students may need.
Bonus: This site is accessible for students and makes an excellent homework reading assignment in preparation for a class discussion about writing.
Editing vs. Revising
Pros: This site clearly defines terms. Bullet points can easily be adapted into questions for a structured peer review or personal revision assignment.
Cons: Absolutely none.