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Common Core Standards: ELA

Grades 9-10

Writing W.9-10.5

Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of language standards 1-3 up to and including grades 9-10 on page 54.)

This standard is all about the writing process. Students need to use strategies to plan their writing, and then they need to take that first rough draft and progress through a series of revisions. You’re likely to meet resistance on this one because students like to believe that once they’ve written something, they shouldn’t have to rewrite it. Shmoop recommends pairing this standard with standard four; ask your students to use revision to attend to the needs of their audience and the demands of their purpose. Students will examine their papers for flaws at the sentence and paragraph levels as well as organizational issues. They will be given an opportunity to revamp their writing as needed, finally editing for errors in conventions. 

The most important piece of this standard is for students to see that writing is a PROCESS. Even professional writers re-draft many times before publication, and some are not satisfied even when they’re holding their books in their hands. Have your students compare their rough drafts with their finals. They’ll be amazed what revisions can do for their papers, and hopefully they’ll be less resistant to the idea in the future. 

The following example is one type of assignment you might use to get students engaged with the writing process.

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Example

Assignment Example

You’ve just finished reading Night by Elie Wiesel, and you’ve been given the task of writing an essay describing the concentration camps used by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. While Wiesel’s story explains much of the horror, you’ve been asked to write more about the camps. Your purpose will be to inform your classmates and teacher, your audience, about the destructive nature of the camps. First, you’ll need to do some planning before you write. This might include brainstorming ideas, preliminary research, and outlining or clustering in order to organize your thoughts.

Once you have a plan, it’s time to write a rough draft. During the drafting stage, you’ll often conduct further research, and may go back to the planning phase as your ideas develop. Once you have a complete rough draft, it’s time to revise and polish your writing. You’ve got your ideas on paper, and that’s great, but (we know you hate to hear this) they probably need some more work. It’s important to reread your draft with the task, purpose, and audience in mind. Where could you make changes to better serve your purpose and audience? Is your structure and style right for this task? Let’s find out. 

You meet with another student and exchange papers to peer review the drafts. After making critical comments, both positive and negative, you’ll consider what your peer has to say from a reader’s perspective. Based in part on the peer review and in part on your own best instincts as a writer, you come up with a plan to make your paper better. You noticed that some of your statistics about the Buchenwald camp are incorrect and really belong with the paragraph about Auschwitz-Birkenau, so you know you have to move that around. You also see that you gave much more space to one camp over another, so you’ll need to do a little more research to beef up the smaller section. 

Yes, part of the writing process means to add, subtract, and move around. It gets a little… all right… A LOT messy, but you’re on the right track because in the process of explaining or informing, you’ve used statistics, vivid descriptions, examples, and short anecdotes. All of these are important for your audience to understand why the camps were so horrific. 

After revising, you edit your paper, looking for errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and usage. Your peer mentioned that she was confused with one of your sentences, and you realize it’s because there’s no verb in that sentence. You’ll edit that fragment and continue to look for other similar errors. You wouldn’t want these errors to distract the reader from your message. When you’re finished, you’ll have a polished, publish-ready piece. Look out, world!

Quiz Questions

Here's an example of a quiz that could be used to test this standard.

  1. A final draft is always final.

    Correct Answer:

    False

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). Even a “final” draft might go through additional changes at some point, like if you ended up publishing a paper you turned in for class.


  2. Revising means to check for grammar and spelling mistakes.

    Correct Answer:

    False

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). Nope, that’s editing. Revising means to add, delete, rearrange, and rewrite sections of your text.


  3. Sometimes while revising it is necessary to move information around.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). Revision is a good time to fine-tune your organization.


  4. Punctuation is always the first thing we worry about when revising a paper.

    Correct Answer:

    False

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). It should be the last thing, after you’ve made all the other changes.


  5. You might need to do more research in the revision stage of the writing process.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). Sorry, folks, it’s true. You might realize that you need more facts or info for a particular section, and it’s back to the books.


  6. You must always take the advice of your peer.

    Correct Answer:

    False

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). Your peer reviewer isn’t always right; they are there to give you a reader’s perspective, but what you do with their feedback is still up to you, the writer.


  7. In peer responding, your partner will point out the brilliant parts as well as pointing out the confusing parts.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). If they’re a good peer responder, that’s exactly what they’ll do.


  8. A second draft means to type up your rough draft.

    Correct Answer:

    False

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). Wrong! A second draft means you rethink your first draft.


  9. In revising, you check to make sure you are still following your purpose and addressing your audience.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). Revision is the perfect time to make sure you haven’t wandered away from your purpose or confused your audience.


  10. If you don’t have enough details in your essay, you might add more examples or tell more stories.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). Definitely, just make sure anything you add is on-topic and helps you accomplish your purpose.


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