Revision Challenges: What Students are Choosing

I just flipped through the revision assignments that students turned in over the weekend, and it is so much fun to see the different "revision challenges" people set for themselves. I thought I would take a minute to write them out here and show the results of how that works. I guess it is my favorite innovation to my classes this semester! You can see the projects that the students are working on here: Myth-Folklore and Indian Epics.

In the past, I used to ask students to choose a revision focus but I did not have a specific list of challenges to choose from. Now it is going so much better! Here is the list of challenges the students browse through: Grow Your Writing: Editing Challenges. And, yes, the list itself keeps growing because sometimes I'll add a new challenge to the list when I'm reading a student's story during the week; a good challenge for one student might work for others too! Over the summer, I'll try to prune and reorganize (I don't want the list itself to become intimidating), based on the choices I've seen students making this semester.

Using the language of growth and challenges fits in nicely with the growth mindset theme I am trying to promote throughout all the class activities, and the element of choice is also powerful. Earlier in the semester, a lot of students were choosing the punctuation and other writing mechanics challenges, but now they have (re)learned how to cope with those topics. As a result, the research challenge is becoming more popular, which I think is great. There is always more they can learn by doing research, and they can share what they learn in the author's note even if they do not revise the actual story.

Most importantly: instead of seeing revision as just "fixing mistakes," the students can get a sense of revision as something open-ended, driven by their own choices from many possible strategies.

So, without further ado, here are what students chose as their challenges in the stack of assignments I am looking at right now from this weekend. I get such a boost from reading this list and seeing what the students wanted to learn about!

For this week I used dialogue punctuation check for my editing challenge. I liked it because I tend to add more commas than necessary to be safe, and this helped me edit them back out. 

The editing challenge I used was the Author’s Note. My author’s note was pretty short, so I did some research and expanded on that.  

For this story, I used the Research and Learn challenge. I worked on looking up more details about the animals that I mentioned in the end of the story so I can be better prepared to write the next story! I'd love to use this challenge again. It's very helpful!

Active and passive verbs. It went well. There were a lot that I changed.  

This week I chose “Slow down and read out loud”. I actually found quite a few typos when I read the story out loud. I read through the story silently before I turned it in, but it is obviously more effective to read it out loud when error checking. Hopefully I will simply do this every time I turn something in.

This week, I did the ‘names’ editing challenged. I attached links in my author’s note to each pig’s name to show readers where they originated from. 

I decided to do vocatives once again. In this story I added more vocatives in the middle of sentences rather than the beginning. It is also the biggest grammatical problem that continues to show up on my stories. I also decided to work on semicolons. I never actually payed much attention to the use of semi colons. Next story I actually made a goal to have no more that 2 vocative problems!

I chose to give my author’s note a make-over for this editing challenge. After reading the comments, I saw that I was mostly just summarizing my story. I chose to provide a little history about the different religious practices in India so the readers could see that Vishnu and Shiva are still widely worshiped today and Indra is not.  I think this challenge went well and I learned a little history along the way.

This week I decided to do the challenge that prompts the author to read the story more slowly aloud in order to catch more errors. I found this challenge to be extremely helpful because I caught so many more mistakes than I would have if I had just been reading on the screen! I printed my story out with size 14 font, which felt really big. It allowed me to really see the story as a whole, though. It also gave me the freedom to read each sentence individually and make notations as I went. All in all, I felt like this was a really good challenge for me. I should probably make a point to print out my story and read it very slowly aloud for the rest of the semester!

I chose the paragraph length editing challenge. I thought about my paragraph lengths after reading some other peoples stories and thought I could break mine down some. I split a couple of my paragraphs in half and think it works well.

I did a research challenge this week! It was interesting to see that Coyote had its own section on the Wikipedia page for "trickster." It seems that in many myths from all different cultures, the coyote has the role of the trickster that dominates over other land creatures.

For my editing choice, I decided to add more clear details throughout my story. I also added a blurb at the  beginning of the story to tell where the tale came from. I wanted my readers to get a better sense of the stories background and history! 

This week I chose the research challenge. I read a traditional version of this jataka where the tale was told by the Buddha himself. I found this version very interesting. I liked how the tale was given context. The Buddha was walking through the garden of a squire when he came upon area that was without vegetation. The squire's gardener explained how the bald spot came to be and the Buddha replied with the jataka. This gave it a parable-like feel that had reminded me of some of the tales that Jesus told in the Gospels.

For my editing challenge I focused more on my author's note. A lot happens in the story of the twenty-two goblins and I had left a lot out in my story to make it fit. This made it important for me to include what the reader missed inside of my author's note. I think it went really well and it is something I think is very important so I may use this challenge again. 

I read over the apostrophe rule and maintaining the same tense throughout a sentence and the use of commas.  I always thoughts that commas were used when you wanted to slow the flow of a sentence like you were taking a breath. Now I know there are different types of commas.

I used the research challenge once again. I was really happy to find the video I included at the end, because it discussed a lot of symbolism surrounding the festival, and especially the gudhis, that I hadn't run across while writing the story. 

Keep on learning, people:

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