Some students believe that after they have written their first draft that the hard work is over. Actually, no. Often the heavy lifting of the writing process comes during revision. When we help students with revision, we ask our writers these five questions:
Does the paper answer the prompt? Is there a strong connection to the prompt and does the writer answer it in the thesis? How we help:If the paper does not answer the prompt, we ask the student to review the prompt, identify its key words and rewrite their thesis so it answers the prompt more closely.
Can we follow the writer’s argument from the topic sentences?We focus on topic sentences to see how directly they connect to the thesis. How we help: If the topic sentence is unrelated to the thesis, we ask the writer to rewrite the topic sentence, making sure to incorporate some of the key words from the thesis into the topic sentences.
Is there evidence and analysis to support each paragraph? Most students have been well-trained to identify and include specific evidence to support their ideas using textual support. What is often lacking is ample analysis. How we help: Assuming the student has identified and documented good textual support, we ask them to add a sentence or two to the analysis section of the paragraph, describing more deeply how their evidence supports their ideas. If they arewriting about literature, we ask them to look closely at the author’s word choice and tone and explain why the author chose those words. No matter the assignment, we ask the writer to focus on the clarity, conciseness and precision of their language.
Are there patterns of error? Our philosophy of writing tutoring aims not to address every “broken” grammatical rule, but rather to identify similar errors. How we help: As we read the draft, we take note of repeated errors, often underlining them in pencil. We then reteach the rule if necessary and ask the writer to correct the errors.
Does the paper have a strong title? A paper’s title is the teacher’s first look at a student’s writing. Make it count! How we help: We encourage students to be clever with language by using rhyme and alliteration in the title. Another tip is to lift the best phrases from the draft and use them in the title.