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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Entry Four: Misconceptions about revising and editing

When writing open entry prompts, I always struggle with the starting point. So it becomes very easy for me to procrastinate writing the blogs. My motivation is lacking because I have yet to decide upon an interesting topic that will get the writing process flowing. After last week’s class, the topic of choice was prevalent. This led into many discussion posts on fostering student choice. I already wrote my previous blog on choice so I am going to shift towards another topic that was dominant in class, the argument of our dependence on technology.

Jamie originally wrote in her Hick’s wiki, “that the use of technology and the aids it provides, such as spell-check, grammar correction, and definition links, impede students' revision and editorial processes rather than enhance it.” This topic always concerns me as I do believe that we often rely too much on technology to fix our mistakes.  Microsoft word always fixes my mistakes for me. I have noticed I started to misspell the same words over and over again because they were always auto-corrected for me. If I fail to capitalize ‘i,’ Microsoft is right there to adjust it. I noticed this when I started replying to the wikis. If you do not turn the spell check on, your spelling errors go unnoticed. When I turned auto check on, the amount of red scare me a little. With Microsoft word, I typically fix words as I go as those red lines taunt me. If I see that I am misspelling a word, I fix it quickly. My problem with typing, I put less emphasis on each grapheme and morphine in words. Instead I focus more on what I am trying to say. When I hand write I know that unless I look up spellings, the word will remain misspelled, so I spend more time trying to correctly spell words. While it is not a good idea to rely on technology to fix my misspellings, it does allow me to spend that time I would have spent focusing on graphemes and morphemes on the content of what I am trying to say. Perhaps if we do want out students to use the computer but also focus on their spelling, we could turn off the spell check. Once they are finished, they can turn it back on and see what they misspelled. Then they can print out their writing and going onto the revising and editing process.

Another comment from class that got me thinking was the revising and editing process. Dr. Jones informed us that they are two separate processes and are not meant to be grouped together. This got me thinking about my own conceptions of the editing process. I do tend to group revising and editing into one category. I suppose I do this because I do consider them to be one part of the writing process. To help my understanding of why I do this, I reflected back to chapter one of Teaching Writing, by Tompkins (2012). Since today is a Saturday and my motivation to be sitting in a library working on homework is diminishing, I skimmed my notes and the sections I previously highlighted.  Tompkins made clear that the two are separate stages; stage 3 is revising and stage 4 is editing. Of course I should already know this since we were assigned this reading in the beginning of the semester. But it was not really meaningful to me. Once I read it, I failed to process it from short term memory to long term memory. What really stuck with me from that chapter was the amount of time spent in the prewriting stage.  Tompkins (2012) defines revising as the stage where “writers clarify and refine ideas in their drafts” and it’s where the needs of the reader are met “by adding, substituting, deleting, and rearranging material” (p. 9). Once this is finished, we move onto the editing stage where “students ‘polish’ their writing by correcting spelling and other errors” (Tompkins, 2012, p. 12). In other words, we need to focus on the content when we revise and then move on to the details such as spelling when we edit. I have always completed these steps together. I reread my papers and fix spelling and grammar and content together. It never seemed wrong to me until now. By doing both together, I have to split my attention between the two stages instead of giving each stage the full attention it deserves. This leaves me spending more time completing each process and missing a lot of parts that should be fixed. I suppose my problem now is how do I split up the two processes? I always notice spelling errors and I start to fixate on those instead of the content. Is it okay for me to skip stage 3 and go to stage 4 first and fix all my basic grammatical and spelling errors? This way I can spend the time necessary for revising the content of my paper, without being distracted by the editing errors. Even though they are in stages, I believe it is okay for me to do this skip initially as long as it helps me revise my paper more efficiently and I actually do return to the revising stage.

Looking at my own conceptions of editing and revising, I wonder if my students have the same feelings as me. My concern is if I teach them the idea of two separate stages, will my students get overwhelmed and continually not separate the stages and/or not do them all together? The only way to do so would be to start teaching them this process. Tompkins (2012) mentioned the 6+1 Traits of Writing during chapter one. While I do not remember much about this, I do have the text somewhere in my piles of undergraduate books. I think it will be worthwhile for me to locate this book and reread it. My school principal and I were talking the other day about incorporating children’s books into secondary classrooms. She recalled a teacher who used a children’s book to teach each different writing trait. When the teacher wanted to remind students of a certain trait, she would just mention the specific children’s book used to teach that trait. I think this would be a really great way to teach the writing process to students so it becomes less intimidating to students. I am intimidated enough about teaching it and I know I have a better understanding of it then my students.

So I suppose the main point of this blog entry was not simply about our reliance on technology. It is instead on my own fears and misconceptions about not only the revising and editing process, but the writing process in general.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Katie, you might find it hard to believe, but this was your best entry yet. You were truly using writing as a tool for learning here. You did not go into the entry already knowing everything you were going to say. Instead you used this activity as a means to explore what you thought you knew. THEN, you actually went back to the readings and re-read. (YEAH KATIE!) Then, based on your better clarity about the information in the text, you developed a deeper more principled understanding of the distinct nature of the various stages of the writing process. Yes!

    To help focus or guide your inquiry in future open entries, I encourage you to select one of the frequently asked questions TOmpkins poses at the end of her chapter that ring true for you OR one of the questions Hicks poses in his Appendix.