A colleague attended a conference and came back with this idea. I loved it. My sophomores are notoriously sloppy about proofreading and editing their papers. I was willing to give the "Perfect Paragraph" a try.
How does it work?
I give the students a topic and a few rules that they have to incorporate into their paragraph. The goal is to turn in a perfect first draft--no errors. If they do, they get an A+.
I read the paragraph and the first error that I come across is marked. The paper is returned for a revision. The second draft can only earn a B grade. (The third draft a C, etc.) Every rewrite is stapled to the last paper that they turned in, and I only read until I find the first error every time. Some students end up with a nice little stack of papers stapled together. (And not a great grade when it gets to that point!)
Students grow frustrated with themselves with every revision. They begin to scrutinize the rest of the paragraph so they don't have to do any more rewrites. (Now if they will carry this over to essay writing, they will have achieved the goal!)
Yes, it is a crazy amount of work for me. I have to keep up with the grading as the papers come in. I return them quickly for rewrites. That's why this assignment only works for paragraphs. I'd never be able to accomplish this with essays. It is exhausting enough with paragraphs. I won't have a spare minute to myself today!
I'm guessing you can figure out who is the most exhausted at the end of the day. Though I did hear two boys discussing a "skip" and doughnut run to Casey's instead of showing up for "Perfect Paragraph" Friday. The assignment is a bit stressful for them. (If those boys decide to follow through, I hope they bring me a doughnut! I'm pretty sure I will have earned it!)