Week 9: Revision & Drafting Strategies Peer review and fine-tuning your words

This Week

  • Understanding the grading
  • Is it peer reviewed?
  • Peer review introductions
  • Revision Strategies
  • (If time, logical argumentation)

Grading Summary

Your grade will be based on the following:

  • Final Portfolio (60%): Consists of all of the work done over the term for the final paper and breaks down as follows for a total of 60%: Topic Proposal (5); Outline (5); Annotated Bibliography (10); Draft (10); Peer Review (5); Final Paper (25)
  • Process Work (20%): This includes four homework assignments (setting up the Google folder in week 1, library encyclopedia assignment, part 1 of annotated bibliography, and the three intro assignment).
  • Participation (20%): This includes the two annotated summaries for the Zimmer and Reece articles, class discussion participation, and attendance.

A (90-100%): Excellent effort and achievement; few or no issues in sourcing, structure, or writing; no missing drafts or invention work. No attendance issues.

B (80-90%): Good effort and achievement; minor issues in sourcing, structure, or writing; no missing drafts or invention work. Possible attendance issues.

C (75-79%): Acceptable in effort and achievement; significant revision needed to sourcing, structure, and/or writing within an otherwise workable essay; missing invention, drafts, or feedback for peers; missed one conference. Possible attendance issues.

D (70-74%): Below acceptable in effort and achievement; writing samples need a significant or total rewrite, and/or have major shortcomings in sources, structure, or writing; missing work; incomplete drafts; missing workshop/feedback for peers; missed both conferences.

F (<69%): Unacceptable; fails to meet basic academic standards of effort, accuracy or ethics.

Peer Review Ground Rules

  1. Respond to the writing, not the writer.
  2. Any subject is fair game.
  3. Think about the big picture.
  4. Think about the little pictures too.
  5. Trust your judgement.

How does this work?

Reading peer work

  • Read the piece once through without notes or comments. Then re-read paying careful attention to the details. Make notes in the margin. Circle obvious errors (but don't waste time proof reading the papers -- that's not your job).
  • Are there lines or phrases that really jump out at you and hold your attention? Which ones?
  • Are there places where the writing is less clear or perhaps a tad confusing?
  • Do you have a sense of what the paper is going to be about? Summarize the main ideas.
  • Do you have a favorite introduction? Why?
  • Is there potential for one of the introductions to be a tad stronger with revision? What do you suggest?

Providing & Receiving Peer Feedback

  • The writer should remain silent and listen to each person in the group provide their feedback. Don't worry about defending your work or correcting assumptions. Just listen. Take notes. Be open and grateful for the chance to hear from your readers -- writers rarely get the chance to see how their work reads to others outside their immediate circles.
  • Each person in the group should offer feedback before discussing the work as a group. Then, once every one has spoken. Open it up and discuss as a group. The author can join in and ask
  • Be open to the advice your receive, but know that ultimately all the writing choices are yours. You are under no obligation to take advice (although, it's probably a good idea to listen carefully to instructor feedback as he or she may have a little more expertise to help guide your efforts).

Revision Strategies for Polishing Your Writing

Revision is not just proofreading; rather, revision involves looking at you paper on two separate, but equally important levels: globally and locally.

Global Revision

What on Earth does that mean? Global revision is, simply put, focused on the big picture. This is where you look at the structure of your paper and the evidence you incorporate. Have you given credit for all of the ideas that you borrowed from the scholars who have dedicated their lives to studying this thing you are trying to understand? Do your ideas make sense in the order in which you've presented them? Do you explain key concepts and theories used to make your claim? University of Arizona provides students with this handy checklist, which I think is pretty simple and easy to understand:

  • Is each sentence complete?
  • Have I fulfilled the needs of the assignment?
  • Who is my audience?
  • Am I writing in a style appropriate for that audience?
  • Do I convey the purpose and context of my paper in the introduction?
  • Have I included a highly specific thesis? Why have I organized my paper the way I have?
  • Is there any logic to it? How could I make the organization more progressive or sequential?
  • If not, how have I organized my argument for maximum effectiveness?
  • Do I use topic sentences that show clear transitions from one paragraph to the next?
  • Do my paragraphs stay focused on the one idea I present in my topic sentence?
  • Does the closing sentence of each paragraph emphasize the purpose of the paragraph and/or tie back clearly to the overall argument of the paper?
  • Is my argument consistent?
  • Do any of my paragraphs introduce a concept or argument I did not prepare my readers for?
  • Do all of the paragraphs “hang together” (cohere)?
  • How do I support my arguments?
  • Do the examples I give in the paragraphs illustrate the point I want to make?
  • Have I used quotations for good reasons, or am I just filling up the paper?
  • Do I explain thoroughly what each quotation illustrates?
  • Is most of my paper analysis of the examples I present, or have I quoted too much?
  • Is my tone/voice consistent?
  • Do I seem light-hearted in one place and deadly serious in another? Do I stay consistently in one tense (past or present) and point of view (third person)?
  • Is my conclusion strong?
  • Does it answer the question, “so what” by giving broader implications of the argument?

If you have answered yes to these questions, then it is time to move on to local revision, which deals with the technical aspects of the paper: grammar, sentence structure, and citations.

Local Revision

  • Is each sentence complete?
  • Have I used proper punctuation and capitalized proper names, titles, etc.? (Are there comma splices?)
  • Have I formatted the paper correctly -- including citations and a works cited page? (See next section on MLA for links and samples.)
  • For those of you who have already mastered some of the mechanics of writing, the next level would be to address the following: eliminating to be verbs (is, am, are, were, be, was) and cutting excessive adjectives and adverbs. I'll expand on this below...

What's wrong with to be verbs?

We write for reasons too numerous to list -- argumentation, persuasion, education, inspiration, organization and so on. Therefore, the words we choose matter. To be verbs are problematic because they tend to make the writing weak and flabby; they lack specificity and they often lead to false conclusions. Here are a few examples:

  • To be verbs lack specificity. Stating "modern day protest movements are weak" reveals little. The statement is missing descriptive elements that inform and make my case. "Modern day protest movements struggle to maintain the attention of the American public because [insert copious amounts of brilliantly formed conclusions with examples...]" -- this statement tells a reader much more and does so in an engaging manner.
  • To be verbs imply a state of permanence that is rarely the case. Saying "I am hungry" implies a consistent state of being that is rarely the case in American society (although, sadly...). But, "Skipping lunch caused my stomach to grumble through my last class that day" - this offers a reader a ton of information. Make every word do as much work as possible in your sentences.
  • To be verbs are vague. Portland Community College is a great school. Ok, so what? Who cares? But: With smaller classes, hard-working students, and committed teachers, PCC excels in preparing students for higher education and the workforce. On it's own, the statement warrants further explanation, but the second statement, if followed with concrete examples and evidence like quotes from teachers or students, does much more work than the first statement.
  • To be verbs can come across as being absolute with little room for debate. Jazz is sophisticated and intellectual. This statement is rather presumptive and can lead a reader to false conclusions about either jazz or the author of the statement. How about adding greater specificity in to the statement and using more active verbs that support the statement: Charlie Parker's brilliant and innovative improvisational solos challenge the ear and mind.
  • For more, Here's a helpful video.

Additional Resources & Tip

  • Crafting a Balanced Text: Highlight the facts/quotes/definitions with one color and your ideas/analysis/commentary/interpretations/claims with another highlighter color. Which color won out? Is there a balance between your input/analysis and those of your sources? If not, which paragraphs/sections, if any, will require cutting, revising, condensing?
  • Reverse Outline

For Thursday

Happy Writing! - Jenny

Created By
Jenny Woodman

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