Friday, October 26, 2012

Editing Exhilaration

An oxymoronic title? I might have agreed before today, but I just spent the most delightful class period wandering through the room listening to 10th graders fully engaged with the task, buzzing with comments like this:

  • “Oh, I know that one--you have to italicize the book title!”
  • “Does anybody know what’s wrong with this citation?”
  • “So the first time you refer to the author in a literary essay you use his whole name, and after that do I say ‘Alan’ or ‘Paton’?”

What are they working on? An activity called “Find Someone Who....” My students had the revised draft of an essay due, and the class period was set aside for editing. They each received a 4 x 4 grid. Each of the squares had an example of a common mistake in it--especially ones we were focusing on this unit: introducing a quotation, using in-text citation, being concise. 

“Find someone who can explain the problem with this example and correct it,” read the directions across the top of the page. I volunteered to be the model and first source for all of them, giving them the answer to the third block in the first row: 
  • Example: Shalom is broken by sin.
  • Problem: Passive voice; use active when possible.
  • Correction: Sin breaks shalom.
  • Source: Mrs. E

Then students were to get an additional block filled in from each of their 3 group mates. After that, they could move around the room to fill in the remaining 12 blocks.

I was truly stunned and almost giddy at the energy with which 26 fifteen-year-olds rose to the challenge. What a difference from me standing at the front of the class going over the top 10 errors and their corrections while most of the students’ eyes glaze over!

Near the end of the activity one student moaned, “Now I’ve learned all this stuff and I have to hand in this paper full of mistakes!”

Mwa-ha-ha-ha! That’s when you know you have them where you want them.

Recalling everyone to their seats, I told them they now had the last 10 minutes of the period to apply what they’d learned to their papers, making editing corrections before handing them in.

Students excited to have a chance to edit their papers--now that’s a sight to banish English-teacher blahs.

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