Revising Research Papers

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SWBAT revise their research papers with a focus on content and wording.

Big Idea

Revising takes practice and practice makes perfect.

Reading Time

10 minutes

Each day, I begin my ELA class with Reading Time.  This is a time for students to access a range of texts. I use this time to conference with students, collect data on class patterns and trends with independent reading and to provide individualized support. 

Explanation Of Revision Strategies

5 minutes

Out of everything I do as a teacher, teaching revision as probably one of my favorite times in the writing process. I think it's great when I can give students the tools and show them how to make their writing more effective. When they actually apply those tools and gain even stronger insights into their writing throughout the revision process, it puts a smile on my face.

Today's lesson focuses on revision and giving students time to do that. There have been many lessons throughout the year that were very much teacher guided when it came to revision, this lesson is student guided. Since we are approaching the end of the year I hope students can work on revising on their own instead of having me hold their hand. My hope is that students are aware of their weaknesses by now that they can figure out what areas they can work on without me telling them. When I tell them, ownership of writing is lost.

I begin the lesson by pulling up the Revision Strategies Research Paper handout on the Smartboard. I review this handout with the class. Earlier in the year, I may have spent a day on one or two strategies, but since we are at the end of the year, I hope students can use many strategies at once. If they can't, I can always modify for students who need that extra support. One modification is to reduce the amount of strategies or just have students look at once strategy.

This handout has students look at their drafts of their research papers focusing on:

  • content (to prove their thesis)
  • use of quotes/citations
  • correct word choice
  • pronoun agreement
  • verb choice
  • sentence style

I explain each of the revision strategies to make sure that students understand each of them. For the most part, they usually do since we have been talking about all of these strategies throughout the entire year. None of this is really new to them.

Workshop Time To Revise

28 minutes

The rest of the class is devoted to giving students time to work on applying those revision strategies. In order to do this, they need a copy of their rough draft.

Having a hard copy of their rough draft is best, but they can also do this work on the computer. Many students prefer to make notes on their computer and I'm fine with that. Whatever way I can get them to revise, I'll tack it. Word has some great tools that help them do this. This video explains how to track changes in Microsoft Word: Track Changes For Revisions Explanation.

Students spend the rest of class time reading over their research papers and applying the revision strategies we discussed in the prevision section. In the interest of time, I have students work independently. Occasionally, if students are really motivated and can use their time effectively, they can peer revise using these strategies. This can be really helpful or even harmful. When students want to work with a partner I remind them to be constructive but also helpful. You don't want students telling each other too much of what they need to fix.

Here is an example of a student's work during this time: Julia Child Rough Draft Revision Notes. You can see on this draft notes she made that will help he revise her paper based on the strategies reviewed earlier in the lesson. Here are specific screenshots from the draft that highlight certain parts:

  1. JC Revisions 1
  2. JC Revisions 2
  3. JC Revisions 3

During this time, I circulate around the classroom. I use this time to asses their ability to revise on their own. Since we are approaching the end of the year, I want to see if students can do this on their own. Occasionally some students need a little push and I have them focus on a certain strategy one at a time to make it more manageable. There are very rarely students who are reluctant to revise since they are given class time to revise and since they know the benefits of revision.

I can't get to every student's research paper since they are lengthy. Instead, I have students pick a short section, whether it's a paragraph or a page, and have them tell me what they need to work on. This helps to save time so I can reach multiple students and also puts the responsibility on the student to make informed decisions about their writing.