Friday, September 17, 2010

The Perfect Paragraph

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!)  


margie said...

i bet the e in mrs e doesn't stand for everyone's favourite. lol.

Gayle said...

That is a great idea. You'll have to let us know how many students got the A+!

Katie (Can't Get There) said...

Maybe you should bring donuts to celebrate at the end of class? Sounds like a very effective lesson!!

Anonymous said...

I had a professor in an honors biology class that required a 2 page paper every week. If you made any misspelling or editing errors, you flunked the weekly paper. No make-ups allowed. Needless to say, we all learned to proofread!! -- Cousin A.

B. Meandering said...

Whoa---I'm tired already. I could probably pull it off with my smaller freshmen classes, but my jr. advanced class has 32 students in it. I doubt that I'd be done with the first stack before the second began to tip.
Good idea though. I'll try it with my smallest class of 10 and let you know.

Mary said...

Ha! We have a part-time teacher at the high school (driver's ed...he taught ME driver's ed, so he's been there for an awfully long time!) who goes on doughnut runs during class!

Puna said...

Wow, you are tough. I don't know if the boy would pass your class but I'm sure he would learn a thing or two! Can't stand his facebook status misspellings!