Common Core Standards: ELA - Literacy
ELA - Literacy.CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.11-12.5
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.
Set the Stage
This standard is all about the writing process. Students should be encouraged to plan, draft, and (much to their dismay) revise, revise, revise. After students have written a first draft, they will need to review it to determine what changes, additions, deletions, or re-structuring might be necessary. They will find this process tedious and will likely whine and try to wheedle their way out of doing genuine revisions, so it’s important for you to be the writing process cheerleader here. Practice your cartwheel, then model how revisions can improve the final product and help students identify and address their weaknesses. These are the higher order concerns. Editing is the final phase of the writing process as students look for MUGS (mechanics, usage, grammar, and spelling), or lower-order concerns. Shmoop recommends exposing your students to a variety of approaches to planning, drafting, and revising, and allow them to find the writing process that works best for them.
You have written a first draft of your essay in which you are explaining urban sprawl and new urbanism, a “growing” concept in your human geography class. You know a great deal since you live on the edge of your town. You’ve witnessed how your city is growing in every direction: strip malls, housing developments, and chain stores. Just more places for you to cruise, of course.
Your first draft defines and explains what urban sprawl and new urbanism is. You also note the differing opinions of those involved in the new urbanism argument. One side believes that proper planning is preferable to urban sprawl, while the other side argues that planned communities tend to exclude certain populations, usually those in lower income brackets. Your paper gives the pros and cons of “manufactured” communities. Your peer responder gave your draft two thumbs up. Well, maybe a thumb and a half even; there are a few things to improve on.
After peer review, you note that it would be helpful for your readers (your teacher and your classmates) to add specific examples in order to further develop your essay. This will mean the addition of information about notable cities that have experienced urban the growth in an “outward” direction rather than an “upward” direction, like Detroit and Pittsburgh. You’ll also add information about planned communities, such as Celebration, Florida. You remember seeing that one when you went to Disney World last summer.
The classmate who reviewed your draft mentioned that she became lost when reading about how urban sprawl can happen even though population might decline. You’ll have to clarify this information so your reader can understand your ideas. She also thought you went a little too far in explaining how the city of Boston grew, so you might condense or delete some of those specific details. Mmm, well, that explains why you didn’t get the double thumbs up.
Also, a number of the terms used in describing urban growth were difficult to understand. You’ll have to give better definitions for domain-specific vocabulary. You also decide to move the fifth paragraph about the criticism against new urbanism so that it comes AFTER those supporting it. Pros first, then cons.
Finally, you check for those mechanical errors your English teacher is always talking about…yes, they count in social studies class, too. You look for verb tense agreement, check for comma errors, and make sure your cities are capitalized. That, my friend, is real editing.
Your assignment works better when you attend to higher-order concerns, such as word choice, structure, and details. Moving words and sentences around helps your audience better understand your ideas, and making sure that those lower-order concerns, don’t become distracting helps you to reach your goal of that A+ paper.
That’s a Wrap
It may have been a grueling journey, but your students have moved from a first, rough draft to a final, polished and perfected one. Revisions included adding or deleting information, re-structuring sentences and paragraphs, and checking for MUGS mistakes. We’re confident that once your students see how much the writing process improves their product, they’ll be a little more willing to engage in revisions. Maybe not jumping up and down about it, but a little more willing.
De Blij, H. J., et al. “Chapter 9: Urban Geography.” Human Geography: People, Place, and Culture. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2007.
Quiz QuestionsHere's an example of a quiz that could be used to test this standard.
Mark (T) for statements that are true and (F) for statements that are false.