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I’m realizing that one of the most difficult lessons for my students in this course will be to teach them the importance of drafting and revising. When we did the Reader’s Digest aspirin assignment, I noticed that they hadn’t really done any pre-writing or planning, and the grades reflected that. Seeing that to be the case, we did an exercise in class that walked them through the kind of pre-writing I hoped they would have done. They participated eagerly, and I gave them an opportunity to revise their papers to replace the grades. About half of them took me up on it, and their revised papers are universally stronger.

However, I don’t know how to impress on them the need to adopt these techniques of planning, drafting, and revising so that they will do them on their own. I’ve tried to encourage them by requiring drafts of essays, conducting peer reviews, and allowing them opportunities for rewrites. As we moved into the narrative essay unit, I’ve lectured them about the need to really spend time on these essays and to put more effort into them than they’ve put into the brief exercises. I’ve tried to impress upon them the fact that this is a major paper and so can’t be done in one night. I’ve also given them the schedule for the rest of the semester, so that they can begin planning out when and how they’ll tackle the other two major papers. I’m not sure if any of this is making a dent in their typical procrastination mode, though. I suppose I’ll have a better sense of that when they turn in the narrative essays.

I know that part of the difficulty in getting them to internalize the need for the process is the fact that the process is so internalized in me already. I’m hardly aware of when I begin thinking about a paper, generating ideas, organizing them, putting some down, scratching them out, starting over, and so forth. It more or less just flows without my stopping to think about the process. And as such, it’s hard to pull it apart to show them what needs to be done.

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