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Common Core Standards: ELA - Literacy

Grade 11-12

Writing 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.

Example

Dress Rehearsal

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.

Write on.

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.

Source

De Blij, H. J., et al. “Chapter 9: Urban Geography.” Human Geography: People, Place, and Culture. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2007.

Quiz Questions

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

True/False

Mark (T) for statements that are true and (F) for statements that are false.

  1. Revising means to correct mechanical, usage, grammar, and spelling errors.

    Correct Answer:

    False

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). Revising is all about addressing higher order concerns, like content and structure. Correcting mechanics and grammar is part of the editing process.


  2. Part of the revision process includes moving sentences and paragraphs from one place to another.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). Moving stuff around is definitely important in revision as you consider the best possible structure for your ideas.


  3. In revising an essay, one might add more information to make the writing more clear.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). Don’t think that revising means you just work with what’s already on the page. Sometimes you will need to add or rewrite significant portions of your work. It’s painful, we know, but worth it.


  4. While remembering purpose, task, and audience is important when writing a first draft, it is not important in the later stages of writing.

    Correct Answer:

    False

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). You have to keep your task, purpose, and audience in mind at ALL times during the writing process. If you forget about these important elements, you may drift away from accomplishing your purpose or attending to the concerns of your audience as you revise. No good.


  5. A key feature of revision is to develop and strengthen writing as needed.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). That’s practically the definition of revision.


  6. Sometimes information might be deemed irrelevant to the topic and should be deleted from the writing.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). Another painful part of the process, but sometimes the info just doesn’t belong. Even if it’s beautifully written, info that’s off-topic has gotta go. Sorry.


  7. Revision is a teacher’s term for “starting over.”

    Correct Answer:

    False

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). We know that’s what it feels like sometimes, but your teachers don’t want you to throw out your hard work just because it has some problems. Revision is about taking the thinking and material you’ve already gathered and created and molding it into the best possible version of your paper. It’s not starting over, it’s moving forward.


  8. Checking for mechanical errors is usually the first step in revision.

    Correct Answer:

    False

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). First step? Nope – try last step. No one wants to spend time editing material that might still be changed or even cut.