Writing is a cyclical process. And even though we have our students turn in final draft versions of their papers, any middle school or high school English teacher can tell you that these final drafts are quite far from final.
As a high school English teacher, I can tell you that students improve their writing when they go back and revise their work. In an earlier post, I wrote about how I conduct essay revisions in my classroom. Here is a list of 6 reasons why English teachers (and even teachers of other content areas) should allow students to revise final drafts even after they’ve been graded and entered into the grade book.
1. Provides Students with Another Opportunity to Learn
As educators, we are lifelong learners, and this is just the philosophy we should pass on to our students. Even after an assignment is completed, turned in, and graded, there is still room to learn and grow as a writer. By allowing students to revise their graded essays, students focus on and correct parts of their writing in which they didn’t master in the first place. This practice helps students become better writers because they will remember the revisions they made and be more cognizant of these revisions the next time they write.
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2. This Shows Students That You’re on Their Team
Our students want to know that we are on their side, and as their teachers, that is where we should be. For some students, teachers are their most constant adult-figure, and they should know that we are cheering for them to be the best versions of themselves. By giving students a second chance at revising their graded essay and improving their score, we are showing our students just how much we want them to succeed.
3. Essay Revisions Support Mastery Learning
Trust me. I completely get it. We are so cramped for time, and every year it seems as if we have more content and more curriculum to fit in our year. I’ve been there before, and I know how it feels barely to make it through one unit and then to have to squeeze a full five-act play into two weeks, and then to have two days taken away from you without much notice because of registration or field trips or something else. Rather than moving on to the next unit so quickly though, students will grow more and learn more if you dedicate even just one day to reviewing some of the common mistakes that students made and how these mistakes should be corrected. By taking a moment to review and correct only one or two significant writing errors, you’ll save more time in the end. By allowing for essay revisions, students will reach mastery sooner.
4. It Reinforces a Growth Mindset
Giving your students a chance to revise their essays reinforces a growth mindset. After reviewing your comments and suggestions on their graded essays, students will see their mistakes, correct (some of) their mistakes, and learn from their mistakes. Going through the essay revision process, especially after students thought they were done, helps students realize that there is always room for improvement.
5. Students Will Actually Read Your Comments
I remember my first year of teaching like it was yesterday. I spent countless hours over the weekend grading the very first full essay I assigned meticulously. I corrected multiple grammatical errors, I provided students with suggested ways to revise sentences, I wrote notes to each of my students explaining their grade, and when I handed the papers back to my students, I was crushed when so many papers went straight into the trash without even a quick glance. I felt defeated. Once I started assigning essay revisions, I noticed that more students reviewed my comments and marks more carefully.
6. It’s a Way to Cover Your Behind
Sometimes as a teacher, you need a failsafe. We’ve all heard the horror stories where teachers are blamed for things beyond their control. By giving students multiple opportunities throughout the semester to improve their grade by revising a final essay, you are proving to students, parents, and administrators that you gave students numerous opportunities.
Helpful Writing Units and Lessons: