Help with writing paper
My reasoning is that activities involving an entire classroom may al- low many students to learn how to proofread and edit their texts. If certain students do not catch on, then an instructor can go on to more focused activities that require working specifically with particular students. Getting Textual Write It Out Many times students exhibit error in their writing because they have not written much prior to the months in which they enroll in a writing course. In my writing classes, I have students write regularly for three different purposes. One, students write responses (usually a half- page if typed) for each reading assignment. This kind of assign- ment encourages students to do their homework, and, unlike quizzes, responses give students much-needed practice in writ- ing. Two, students write a set number of pages in a journal each week. Three, students work on formal writing assignments that go through multiple drafts and peer review. I find that having students write so much in an introductory writing class often allows them to write themselves out of many problems they may initially have with language conventions. A few years ago I taught a section of first-year writing in which three or four students -215 - 243 SUPPORTING PRACTICES who might normally have been placed into a developmental writ- ing course were slotted into my section with students who had been determined ready for first-year college writing.
To this day, I am not sure who the mainstreamed students were, though if I had to guess, I would assume one of them was a student whose first few journal entries and reactions were especially weak in terms of language conventions.
By the end of the semester, how- ever, her work was indistinguishable from the writing of several other students in the course. So the first thing I do to help students learn to proofread and edit is nothing at all, except provide them with an opportunity to practice their writing. I know this may sound like harebrained advice, and I certainly thought so the first time I heard it, but I have found over the years that it is a waste of time to pounce on errors students make early in the semester because there is a good possibility they will no longer make those errors if we have them write a lot and leave them alone. Responding with Correctness Joy Kreeft Peyton and Jana Staton (1993) were involved in a series of research studies of native and second-language users, supported by the Center for Applied Linguistics in the 1980s, in which they looked at dialogue journals, a procedure in which the teacher and student conduct a conversation on paper. Oftentimes, students seem to pick up on the ap- propriate form and need no other help. Of course, this is not news for any of us who have worked with students whose texts appear much more problem- atic than their readings of their texts.
Years ago, when I worked at an help with writing paper open admissions school and taught basic writing and pre- basic writing classes, it was not uncommon for me to have an entire class of students whose ACT verbal scores were in the single digits. In this context, I first developed the procedure in which students worked in pairs and read their texts aloud for each other.
The listening student not only heard the oral version but also silently read along with the author. Each time the author devi- ated from the text, the listening student nudged the author to make her or him go back to the spot in the text where she or he had read help with writing paper something different from what was written.
This activity helps students understand that they know much more than they think they know about producing error-free prose SUPPORTING PRACTICES and that with help they can learn to identify the problems in their texts and offer alternatives that work better. Noam Chomsky (1965) introduced the twin con- cepts of competence and performance to explain this pheno- menon. At any rate, having students read their writing for each other, reminding each other when their reading deviates from their texts, is a good way to help students become more aware of what they write and how to learn to proofread their own work. This is also a useful practice because it allows a whole class of students to work with one another on proofreading and editing without having to depend on the teacher.
I first used this tech- nique when I taught a pre-basic writing center course for stu- dents who needed additional help in passing basic writing. Kirby and Liner suggest setting up an editorial board to edit and proofread student writing.
Their suggestions include grouping some of the best proofreaders and editors with some of the least proficient, since it is a great learn- ing experience to be on the board. An editorial board can be used in several different ways, depending on your classroom and the way in help on essays which the course is organized.
If students are produc- ing a set of formal papers they must take through the entire writ- ing process, then it might be appropriate to set up an editorial board for each paper. If evaluation occurs only at the end of a course using portfolios, then perhaps there could be an entire class session set up for one or more editorial boards.
For those classes employing a workshop approach in help with writing paper which students choose topics and work at their own pace, then perhaps the editorial 218 ERIC Getting Textual: Teaching Students to Proofread and Edit board could be invoked as needed. Classes that organize students into groups that produce zines or other publications could act as their own editorial boards or switch writing with other groups. I have used editorial boards in all of these ways and find that they work well, giving students with less knowledge about language conventions a strong context within to learn. However a writing course is organized, there are ways to structure editorial boards. They not only are flexible, but they also furnish students with autonomy and real reasons for focus- ing on language conventions. Several years ago a friend of mine worked on writing with middle help with writing paper school students from the I Have a Dream Program in which selected students are promised a full ride in college if they complete high school graduation and col- lege admission requirements. The task facing these middle school students was to produce on computer (this was in the late 1980 s) a newsletter that could be shared with a German gymnasium class. The initial version of the newsletter contained many lapses from American Edited English, which the middle schoolers ini- tially said was fine with them. Working with Individuals So far most of the procedures I have suggested involve working with students in groups within the context of responding to stu- dent writing or in the course of having students practice their way out of the need for extensive proofreading and editing.