Probably one of the best writing tools that encourages good writing and compels students to get better is revision. That’s why I suggest always allowing your kids to rewrite their papers. In school this is not so common. In school most teachers give a grade on a project and that is the final word. So why don’t we just teach writing just the way we learned it?
To answer that, let me tell you a story.
A few years after I graduated college, married and moved a couple states and countries, I was in a position to go back to school. I wanted to earn my Masters Degree in Literature. I enrolled in the local university, and since I had been out of school for a couple years, decided to take a summer course to get my feet wet.
Over the course of the summer, we had to write short three- and four-page papers on what we were reading. This would not be so hard, except the college I graduated from had taught us to interpret literature from our personal perspective, using only our own thoughts and the primary text. My new university expected me to bring in outside, secondary texts to prove my point of view.
Out of 12 possible points, my first essay garnered an eight and was filled with comments, corrections and suggestions. Not my best showing. Luckily for me the professor allowed rewrites on the first three papers. As I wrote my second paper, I tried to incorporate his advice. Meanwhile, I busily rewrote that first paper and turned it in for a new grade.
When my papers came back, I had earned a 10 on my second paper and the full 12 on my rewritten paper. I was pretty happy. Again I rewrote the second and used suggestions to write my third paper. Those both returned to me with perfect 12s! My fourth and fifth papers earned top marks, too, and a compliment from the professor on my hard work. Needless to say, that experience set the stage for my Master’s work and convinced me of how much students could improve if given the chance and given a small bit of guidance.
Over the next few weeks, watch the blog for tips on how to encourage revisions from your kids and how that work will make them better students and better writers.
Let me know in the comments if you have specific questions you’d like to see addressed, either on revisions or any writing-related topic.