We have spent a great deal of time this week learning how to closely read their own work and look for syntactical patterns that will help them recognize where to revise. Today, they will put their new knowledge to work by revising their work in the library.
I generally don’t like to spend lots of time in the computer lab because the time is not very productive; students tend to spend more time fiddling with the computer, or talking to friends as soon as what they are doing gets a little difficult. However, I will on occasion go to the library and have them work there for a day or two; while some of the same things still occur (though not quite with as much frequency because they are not right next to each other, and not on rolling chairs!), they are able to spread out and find their own space because many of the computers are in study carrels, and they can also borrow laptops. The main benefit is it allows me to work one on one with a student without other students right next to me. So, while they may not write a great deal (most kids tend to say they would rather write at home), it gives them a chance to ask questions, and I can provide on the spot feedback to students. Additionally, it forces them to put what they’ve learned the past few days to use, and allows me to assess how well they learned the material.
So, today we will spend the entire class period in the lab, with the goal to give me a complete revised draft on Monday (I have decided to forgo a peer-editing stage for this piece; because the genres of essays they’ve written are more complex in their organization, I have found that students have universally not fully understood some key elements previously that weren’t caught through peer editing. Given this, I will read them and give one on one feedback, and any additional instruction earlier in the process). I want to specifically make sure that everyone has a topic and feels good about the process; while it seemed like it the last couple days in class, you can never tell how every student is doing until you talk to each one individually. With memoir, there is often a student, for example, that feels like they have "nothing good to write about," or that "nothing exciting has happened to them." So helping them realize that a trip to a Red Sox game with their dad could lead to a gender-related argument; it is all about the writing, not necessarily the devastating personal experience. So, I will certainly be checking in with everyone for this, as well as any more specific writing and organizing concerns.
POST LESSON ADDITION:
Attached here memoir final samples 1 - flattened.pdf are three final drafts with second drafts included, so you can see some of the revisions (I only included three because many contained more intensely personal topics I didn't feel comfortable sharing here). The first two are particularly strong in revising descriptions in their narrative portions; the last one starts off well, but kind of fizzles in the second half--that student had a harder time maintaining the central idea, though there are moments of strong writing.