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The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast | ELA

Jan 23, 2024

I'll never forget the "C" I got on my first English paper in college. I was walking across the quad in the warm eucalyptus-scented California air when I confidently pulled my paper from my bag to look at the comments. The day suddenly slid into grayscale as I saw my grade.

After a lifetime of "A" and "Great job" written at the bottom of every paper, fresh from winning the English award at my high school awards night, I was totally unprepared for the many, many scrawled notes about the problems in my paper.

I walked into class the next day in a daze, and listened to my professor as he went into a terrifying but effective rant. Apparently I wasn't the only freshmen to confidently turn in a paper that wasn't nearly complex enough.

His speech has stuck with me.

"Your rough draft," he said at one point. "Is a chair."

He scrawled an incredibly messy chair on the whiteboard for emphasis.

"And you have to take that chair," he sputtered. "And build a boat!"

We students glanced at each other, a little overwhelmed.

A boat?

Today I want to talk about the chair and the boat, and some of the process that happens in between. Because let's face it, most kids (high school me included) really struggle to understand the work that happens between ROUGH drafts and final drafts. And it's perhaps the most crucial part of the writing process.

The strategy we're going to dive into now, self-editing stations, can really help scaffold editing for your students, saving them from falling into the usual traps, allowing you to intervene on behalf of key writing improvements you're trying to help them make BEFORE they turn in their work, and ultimately, saving your commenting time for only the most important personalized suggestions.

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