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Radical revision is both an assignment and a teaching and learning location. It succeeds because it is fun: just saying the words wakes up a few students. It allows rule following and rule breaking to make more sense because the assignment requires that writing conventions be placed in dialogue with experimen- tal pressures on those conventions. The radical revision assignment enacts that real- ization, explores it.
Once, for instance, I was convinced that writing a five-paragraph theme would prove radical and challenging to a student. And it did for me too when I followed him and tried the experiment for myself (see Olsen et al. Next, writers outline the project, asking, What is my self-challenge? After reviewing the course schedule, writers set up a personal drafting time line (I begin discussions on the project two-thirds of the way into the term).
Group members brainstorm ways to enhance the project and ways to proceed in order to discover possible problems. Students are encouraged to keep asking one another, What is the thread of connection to your original text?
What do you expect to learn as a writer about writing in the course of this project? On the last day of class, as final portfolios are turned in (along with the narrative essay on the radical revi- sion project), writers share their radical revisions in any way they choose. They are varied and difficult to reproduce in a limited space, but I can give a sense of them. After reading about grammar B, John wrote his second paper, an experimental meditation on spaces that provide 208 ERIC Steal This Assignment: The Radical Revision him with unusual sanctuaries (part of a city storm drain, an aban- doned silo, a rural bridge over the Sopchoppy River, and an open- ing in the base of a buy a thesis huge cypress tree).
Here is a section from the rough draft, which was also illustrated with a line drawing: Downtown, there is a narrow corridor — a crack in reality — a rat tunnel. There is a faded, crumpled, cigarette pack — some broken glass. The corridor opens to a chamber, ten feet by six feet, there is room to stretch and sit down. Well, maybe I do write for myself, but I mainly write for you. I write so that I can release some energy and get other people to listen to my thoughts. Clearly, radical revisions are more and less successful as stand- alone products, but they are almost universally successful as writer-invested investigations about composing. They represent carnival plus the day after: celebration tempered with analysis. Something goes and then that something is studied, evaluated, and learned from.
This happens because these revi- sions generally take place near the end of a term during which writing students have been composing together in a workshop environment to improve all student drafts. That is, revision has been emphasized as a way to create more meaning in a text. For instance, after students complete their first full draft of the term and receive some form of peer response, I ask them to write either a fat draft or a memory draft for that paper before the next class.
For a memory draft, I ask writ- ers to read a text, set it buy a thesis aside, and write a new text of approxi- mately the same length. The memory draft allows salient points to come to the surface and receive more attention.
Both revision exercises give a hint of what is to come in the radical revision assignment (see Ostrom, Bishop, and Haake 2001). This might keep the radical changes they are about to make from being and feel- ing as radical as they do when using an early — retired — paper.
Using an early paper can make the process less painful for the overinvested-in-final-text-as-final-text student and more visible for the new-to-or-resistant-to-ideas-of-revision student.
I can evaluate or grade the narrative of a first-year writing dance student who sets sentences from her lit- eracy autobiography to music in a voice-over and then performs the dance of that autobiography for the entire class in the univer- sity gym. Works Cited ERIC — 212 — Chapter Twenty-Three Getting Textual: Teaching Students to Proofread and Edit D onald Murray once said that the greatest compliment you can give a writer is to edit her or his text. I begin with this concept because, while this essay focuses on teaching students to proofread and edit, it should be understood from the beginning that students need to learn how to polish their prose within a rich understanding of the process of writing. There is, then, a fairly constant pressure on the writing teacher to emphasize cor- rectness. This essay is intended to help teachers focus this pres- sure in productive ways for their composition students.
The practices I describe have been adapted from many sources, some within the field of composition, some from language arts and teacher education, buy a thesis and some from ESL classrooms. Over the last twenty years, I have used all of these with varying degrees of success, depending on individual students and contexts. In addition to my assumptions about the need to contextualize any instruction on language conventions, I should share a few other assumptions buy a thesis that guide me as a writing teacher and in writ- ing about proofreading and editing. First of all, as Joseph Will- iams (1981), Elaine Lees (1987), Bruce Horner (1992), Min-Zhan Brian Huot University of Louisville ERIC - 213 - SUPPORTING PRACTICES Lu (1994), Charles Coleman (1997), and many others have dem- onstrated, error in student writing is a complex issue.
As Charles Coleman (1997) points out, it can be counter- productive to buy a thesis talk to students about sentence boundaries or subject-verb agreement if their grammatical orientations do not include those ways of working with language. My final impor- tant assumption is that teaching students grammatical structures outside the context of their own writing is pointless. As Patrick Hartwell (1985) illustrated over fifteen years ago, there is no evi- dence that knowledge about grammar translates into the ability to write grammatically. A more recent study by Ellen Barton, Ellen Halter, Nancy McGee, and Lisa McNeilley (1998) demon- strates that teachers themselves have trouble deciding what they mean by an awkward sentence, and while it is possible to read the conclusions of their study as recommending the teaching of some language structures, it is difficult to ascertain which struc- tures or how they should be taught. On the other hand, many students lack even the slightest ru- diments of a systematic approach to proofreading and editing. Ask most first-year college students what their system is for proof- reading and editing, and they will either look at you with a puzzled expression or they will say something about glancing over their work after they finish writing. I believe that one of the reasons many students do not edit and proofread very well is because they have had little formal instruction. On the upside, because students have so little experience and instruction in proofreading - 214 - ERiC 242 Getting Textual: Teaching Students to Proofread and Edit and editing, it is often possible to help them make big strides with a little real attention to learning how to proofread and edit their writing systematically.