Stages of Writing (for reviewing and grading)
This is a very general statement on the famous "what does the teacher look for?" in my class. Basically, I just read your papers and react, and then respond, just like people do. But everyone is a little different in how they approach this, and many students have ideas about what the teacher wants based on what their other teachers wanted. Some had teachers who "ripped apart their writing" with a red pen. Some people liked that. Some hated it. Some had teachers who did not ever mention grammar. Some liked it. Some hated it. OK.
We do multiple drafts for a reason. This is because I believe that early drafting should focus on different aspects of writing than later drafts.
What most important to me on first drafts is DEVELOPMENT of ideas and of an argument, focus, or thesis. On second drafts, ORGANIZATION is foremost, if development is adequate. On third drafts, IF and only if those things have been attended to, PROOFREADING/GRAMMAR/CITATION. Style is part of the third wave but it is secondary. All of these waves include attentiveness to the audience, but in different aspects.
- For the first stage, a thesis is important, but it can change as you develop your essay.
- For the third stage, citation is important, both inside the paper and in the Works Cited. Use MLA style.
- Grammar, Correctness, Formatting in the third stage of writing, for grade: Most important are major sentence errors, such as verb errors and sentence-boundary issues. Also, really sloppy writing, ie, lots of typos and spelling errors in the era of SpellCheck, inconsistent formatting, are not acceptable. I'm not talking about the occasionally accidental typos, but a stream of them showing that you really don't see your writing or you aren't looking at it, or maybe you're doing it five minutes before it's due. (?) Issues like dangling modifiers or ending a sentence with a conjunction and style errors like starting a sentence with a conjunction may not bother me at all if they sound natural and the writing is clear. You don't have to sound like William Safire for me. Following directions in the assignment is a part of this too. Sure, everyone occasionally has problems following directions. However, in an online class especially, a huge part of your success depends on reading and following directions. Using "I" and contractions are OK unless specifically forbidden in the assignment. (This almost never happens in my assignments.) You are expected to use apostrophes, commas, and semicolons correctly, and to italicize or use quotation marks around titles appropriately.
- When you do peer review, please do not focus on other students' grammar and correctness. If the assignment requires citation, you may talk about that.