How many times have you asked your students to revise their work, only to have all of the papers returned to the hand-in basket within a few minutes with little to no changes at all? The problem is that many students lack the necessary grammar skills required to revise.
Simply writing a comment on a student’s paper to suggest a revision isn’t enough. These comments are usually unclear and unhelpful to them—i.e. ‘too vague, too wordy, repetitive, etc.’ Students need more support and instruction than this; they need someone to show them how to make these types of revisions if they are to learn how to revise their content and achieve optimum results.
Students need a well-rounded grammar foundation to write with competence, and that foundation should include learning very specific revision skills. It doesn’t have to be a painstaking task, but it is a process that must be taught.
First, students must understand that revising means to find ways to improve word choices and sentences in their rough draft. They must also understand that revising requires them to read their rough draft critically several times to make sure they’ve said what they intended to say in the way they intended to say it. They must read it aloud to themselves, and it helps to read it aloud to others to help find the “rough spots” that could use improvement.
A checklist to revise and improve the rough draft can be extremely beneficial. The following example will help students focus their attention on five of the traits of effective writing, including: (1.) ideas, (2.) organization, (3.) word choice, (4.) voice, and (5.) sentence fluency. Try it out in your classroom today to help your students improve their revision skills!