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Stop, Read, & Apply: Guided Revision Activities

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Earlier this year, I participated in a conversation on collective feedback during a Faculty Office Hours session (an online chat for teachers of professional and technical writing). Collective feedback, a strategy examined by Lisa Melonçon (University of South Florida, @lmeloncon on Twitter) in a five-year study (see her resources online), provides the whole class with details on frequent errors found in the drafts for the course, replacing some, if not all, individual feedback on projects. The process gives the instructor the chance to review common errors with everyone, eliminating the duplication of explaining to each student individually.

Building on Melonçon’s research, Dr. Sara Doan (Kennesaw State, @SDoanut on Twitter) described an in-class activity that she uses to guide students through revision of their projects. She explained that she would tell to the class that she was going to review “Ten issues you all need to fix.” She then asked students to open a copy of their project on their computers. Once students were ready, Doan then stepped students through common errors that they should correct in their drafts. For example, she asked students, “Is your name the biggest thing on your résumé? If not, you need to fix it.”

I love this strategy. I have given students checklists and rubrics to use as they evaluate their drafts, but the same common errors persist. The challenge for me is that my classes are all online. I cannot gather students and ask them to all open their projects so I can walk them through revision strategies.

I created a Google Slides presentation (click on the screenshot below) to solve the problem, calling it a “Stop, Read, & Apply” activity.

Stop, Read, and Apply Slides screenshot. Click to view the slideshow.

The instructions essentially match those that Doan used: Students open their project, and then advance through the slides, stopping on each one to read the details on the common error and then apply that advice to their drafts. To focus students, the slideshow addresses only common errors in memo format. If the activity works, I will create similar slideshows for other common issues students can review as they finish their work.

Because the slides are online, I can also use them in feedback to students. All I have to do is open the Slides file in a new browser tab, advance the presentation to the slide I want to reference, and copy the link from the browser. For instance, I can link directly to the slide on eliminating opening greetings in a memo. So simple!

I hope that this slideshow-based system will slow students down, encouraging to check their drafts more carefully. Further, I can easily adapt it to any course and assignment I might teach. I am eager to see if the activity helps students address common errors. I’d love to hear your feedback on the strategy as well. What do you think? Would you use a similar resource in your courses? Are there “Stop, Read, & Apply” activities you would like to see in a future post? Leave a comment below and tell me what you think!

CORRECTION: Edited to add details on Lisa Melonçon’s research on collective feedback, with apologies for the oversight.

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I do something similar to your review technique here. I do not call it "Stop, Read & Apply," but I like that idea because, of course, that is what we would like our students to do! I want to comment on the concept of using a Power Point presentation for "self-review." I began using self-review slides for a narrative essay about three semesters ago, and I have had strong positive responses to it from my students. Lo and behold, as accustomed as they are to "peer review," many of them had never experienced doing a deliberate "self-review"! That has been surprising to me; I have even been asked what "self-review" means! 

In fact, I repeated this PPT just this past week in three classes and in each class, at least two students told me how useful it had been in reading their own drafts carefully and planning what they needed to do in their next revision. The last screen of my self-review is "What's Next?"; they are asked to write a 5-point (minimum) revision plan based on their review of their own paper. While it is called a "self-review," I have found it to be most effective if we do it in class together, screen by screen, while they annotate their drafts (annotation is another important part of draft review). Following the review, they meet in small groups and discuss / compare what they have learned about their own drafts.

Using "self-review" has been one of those moments in teaching when I wonder how I missed that students may not even know what to look for in their own drafts, similar to the time I discovered that I was actually going to have to teach students how to write an email. Of course, the PPT is posted online and they can use it at home as well, but using it in class together has been very successful. I was so happy to see the title of your slides, "Memo Format Self-Review"; I call mine "Narrative Self-Review." I like your addition of the live links.