Reading, Interpreting, Correcting, and Commenting: Dr. Davis’ Systematic Approach for Maximal Improvement
Once you receive your paper back from your teacher—carefully reviewed and marked—please realize that your thoughtful response is essential, especially if you are going to improve as a writer. This aspect of teaching writing is most overlooked, but possibly most important. The following steps, if followed thoroughly, will maximize your learning experience as a growing writer.
Once you receive your folder, go to a quiet place and reread your paper, from start to finish, reading every word of your own writing, and noting the teacher’s marks and comments along the way. DO NOT SIMPLY TURN TO THE LAST PAGE AND GLANCE OVER THE TEACHER’S FINAL COMMENTS AND ASSESSMENT; THIS WILL ACTUALLY HINDER YOUR GROWTH AS A WRITER.
Once you have read the entire paper thoroughly, noting the markings and comments, go to the first page, and with a pen or pencil, correct all of the errors or problem sentences (anything that is circled or has a squiggle underline has a problem). You must figure out what is wrong, using your handbook, and then correct the problem(s) right above the existing text. (Keep in mind that the assessment sheet, attached to the paper, identifies specific problems as a means of helping you locate them in your actual paper.) Finally, place a handbook reference number next to the problem(s) and correction(s), indicating which page in the handbook you looked at to help you correct the error.
Once you have corrected all errors, now go back to the first page and respond to all marginal comments that the teacher wrote. Keep in mind that no comments are written in a tone that is sarcastic or demeaning; all comments are sincere and thoughtful. So, don’t misinterpret the teacher’s intentions, which are strictly intended to be helpful. For each comment that you read, write a thoughtful and relevant comment, equal in length, if not longer. Even one-word comments, like “powerful” or “interesting” deserve your comment: tell the teacher why the section of your writing is powerful or interesting. The goal, here, is to make you reflect on your own writing in a way that teaches you about your words and their meaning.
Finally, read the terminal comments and suggestions that are on the assessment sheet. On the back of that sheet, write a reflective paragraph (brief) responding to the teacher’s comments about your strengths (+) and weaknesses (-).
Remember, the more you put into this process, the more you will improve.