‘Do Over’ Doesn’t Mean ‘Game Over’----Using Open-Revision Grading to Improve Students’ Perceptions of Revising And Inadvertently Students’ Effectiveness in Writing Michele L. Davis University of New England

‘DO OVER’ DOESN’T MEAN ‘GAME OVER’ Abstract The topic of revisions in writing is one that is key to the writing process. Not only does revision catch editing mistakes (spelling, grammar, punctuation), but also it allows writers to improve their


writing (diction, fluency, organization). The research seeks to prove is to find evidence to supporting this claim: open-revision grading (grading that allows for as many revisions as a student is willing to do and simply replacing the original grade with a new one to show the writing skill improvement) improves student grades, of course, but more importantly increases students’ interests and understanding of revisions’ purpose and benefits.

‘DO OVER’ DOESN’T MEAN ‘GAME OVER’ Table of Contents


Abstract---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------2 Table of Contents---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------3 Introduction----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------4 Rationale for the Study--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------5 Statement of the Problem--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------5-6 Primary Research Questions -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------6 Hypothesis-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------6 Literature Review----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------6-14 Methodology-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------14 Research Design---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------14 Data Collection Plan------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------14-15 Sample Selection--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------15 Instruments--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------16 Findings --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------16-20 Discussion (This section will be an analysis of the data and provide for discussion)---------------------------17 Limitations of study----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------20 Further research--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------19 Action Plan---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------20 Conclusions--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------21 References----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------22 Appendices---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------23



Beginning to research on ERIC, the search key terms show very quickly that grading and revisions as search terms, resulted in articles that discussed the daunting process teachers have of the evermounting piles of revisions….the grading of these revisions. A few of the articles however, had elements within the piece that discusses the effectiveness of revising, so that was helpful. Switching the key terms to revisions and writing looking for the benefits of revisions first was essential. Key terms were added: revisions and writing and grading. This last addition produced long studies that focused on students improvements (or lack there of) with peer editing, self-editing, mandated revisions, application of grades, etc. All the articles were found through the ERIC portal. Many of them however, came from ProQuest within ERIC. Google Scholar, a fairly new online site for scholarly research, resulted in more articles proving that multiple revisions improve writing, especially when paired with open-revision grading. Forty-three students at Arapahoe High School in Littleton, Colorado, in both 9th and 10th grade English classes took surveys, responded to interview questions, and kept journals all to reflect upon their perception of revisions and how it changes throughout the school year. Arapahoe High School has middle to upper middle class population with a high value placed on education. The school has 97% attendance rate and 92% of graduating students attend post-secondary education. The patterns shown in the data indicate that when grades are not limited to a one-shot piece of writing, but writing that continues to grow and to strengthen, also improving one’s grade on that assignment, perceptions of revisions improve, but also students’ writing skills.

‘DO OVER’ DOESN’T MEAN ‘GAME OVER’ Rationale for the Study Teaching English I have observed students roll their eyes when introducing a new writing assignment. The same frustration occurred when I passed back the students’ graded papers. I wondered


how I could motivate students to somewhat enjoy the writing process and to learn to enjoy (or at the very least complete) revisions. By observing students and listening to them beg for extra credit, I realized that students need a way to add points to their grades. But for me, extra credit did not benefit their writing and definitely not improving the writing piece itself. In 2005, I participated in a 21st Century Learners Consortium. We looked at constructivism, technology and even grades thinking how to get kids involved in their education more, and to make teachers facilitators helping students reach their fullest potential. One teacher from Heritage High School, ____, decided to change the way he did grades. He used the weighting and added a Responsibility category. Daily in-class work that showed a student’s sense of responsibility for work, work format and quality, would be given a grade in this category. These grades could not be made up. However, any grade that was a skill could earn another grade in the grade book, putting the second grade under the category of that skill. Students could re-do the work as many times as needed to learn that skill, thus benefiting their grade, plus strengthening their skills. I immediately employed this in my English classes and found immediate success. In Education 690, Action Research, through the University of New England, I wanted to collect data that shows the benefits of such a grading system. Statement of the Problem At Arapahoe High School, the pressure for students to do well is high; students and parents check grades throughout each day. Our honors students in particular seek every point possible challenging why they missed one or two points, even. This topic looks at how revisions (the ability to re-write, re-annotate to replace a grade…unlimited times) can be motivating for students regarding grades, but ultimately change a student’s outlook on student re-do’s (editing/revising and layering of thinking).



The situation I hope to change is the “grade grubbing.” Fishing for every 1 and 2 points will instead be discussions of how to improve their writing, how to improve their thinking (annotating). The evidence that students worry about grades are the discussions with fellow teachers, emails from students and parents, and face-to-face discussions with students and parents. Critical factors are that student pressures to gain a strong GPA as well as approval from parents results in hyper-focus on grades. Instead of students worrying about the skills needed to go onto AP, for example, students worry about gaining every missing point. Primary Research Questions      Will students take advantage of the re-do policy? Will students’ focus be more on skills rather than grades by the end of the semester? Will parents see the benefit of the re-do policy? Will parents notice the students’ efforts for revision and improvement of grades? Will students’ stress levels decrease regarding this policy? Or increase with the demand of the redo in order to improve grades?  Will students wait until the end of the semester to re-do work? Hypothesis By allowing students to re-do assignments in the reading and writing categories, students will feel charge of their grades and by default, will begin to see the benefits to re-doing work…and thus, strengthening the writing and reading skills. Literature Review “The Numbers Approach to Grading” by Rosalyn H. Zigmond (2006) published in Teaching English in the Two Year College, noted the hope that students will realize they can “write exceptionally well when they revise thoughtfully” (p. 296). The perimeters immediately followed this: “We require revisions. The first draft is due October 1 and the second draft is due October 15. That’s it. No more revisions” (Zigmond,



2006, p. 296). What limit students to two revisions? Zigmond (2006) argues that in the real world, “revision is not allowed” (p. 296). Seeing accountants write reports, check for errors, and revise after manager or partners review the report, this is just one “real world” instance where revising is key to a profession. Principals’ letters, secretaries’ newsletters, loan officers’ contracts, police officers’ final crime scene reports, lawyers’ —these are just a few of the instances where revising takes place; Zigmond’s (2006) argument that revising does not occur in the “real world” is not true in most professions. What Zigmond (2006) does advocate is the importance of revision; “students do not learn that they can write well if their teachers deny them open revision opportunities” (p. 297). The interesting point of “The Numbers Approach to Grading” (Zigmond 2006) argues the use of numbers instead of grades. Giving numbers 1-5 out of whatever the total points are shock students at first, getting a 1/30 say, but when they realize they can revise and have a rubric showing both what a 1 is struggling with as well as what a 5 needs to entail, students “can see and measure their improvement in their written products and writing processes” (Zigmond, 2006, 300). The challenge of this system comes from not being able to defend the numbers approach and to deny students a percentage translation of a 2/30. Students may get overwhelmed at such a low score and get frustrated, get angry, or worse, give up (Zigmond, 2006). Teachers that use this system state that the frustrated student can be a benefit to the numbers approach because any engagement about student’s writing helps to improve it (Zigmond, 2006). Teachers must be careful to explain the numbers and to help a student see how to revise. Although this is interesting and has benefits as stated by Zigmond (2006), this is not a study applicable to most classrooms or students; it does not engage students positively, allowing students to feel good about revisions. “How Can a Grading Method improve the Quality of Students’ Written Work?” by professor Jane A. K. Carlson (2010) discusses how in order for revisions to work, one must only accept quality work. The first component to Carlson’s (2010) argument is that it is “important not to confuse purpose-driven grading with the traditional ‘draft’ grading” (p. 1). What is similar between writing drafts and Carlson’s



(2010) revision process is a five-step process. “Step 1: Front-Load Assignment Information” is where the students receive specifics about the assignment: purpose, due date, details of requirements, but also a “strong model of the assignment so that students know the level of your expectations”, and a grading/evaluation form (Carlson, 2010, p. 1). The last component of step 1 is to discuss what the students understand are the expectations making students “accountable for knowing, understanding, and applying the information to create the assignment” (Carson, 2010, p. 1). “Step 2: First Draft is Graded” requires students to write effectively from the start, therefore making students aware of their writing turned in as final drafts…always. “Step 3: Second Draft or Final” are driven by teacher comments; these comments are what encourage students to learn how to write better, write more effectively (Carlson, 2010, p. 2). The students get feedback, but not a new grade for the first draft. Instead they get a grade for doing the second draft. Consequences for not doing a second draft? A zero. And in fact, students will receive a zero for drafts that do not show significant improvement (Carlson, 2010). “Step 4: Third Draft or Final” is strictly for students that are not understanding that papers will only be graded that are acceptable. One student comments showing the value in such a process; “I knew exactly what was expected and got into a routine to put forth my best work in the first draft and refine it so the final was perfect. It was a lot of work, but it gave me confidence in my writing. I was proud of it and wanted to show it to others” (Carlson, 2010, p. 3). The last step is “Step Five: Assignment Binder,” which is where students keep all written assignments including all the drafts leading up to the final product. Students value the work they’ve completed and are so pleased with the results; “The assignment binder is my favorite. I love to look at it and see all the work I have done, and how hard I have worked to produce a final written product. It is something that I take pride in and it shows that I can write at a professional level” (Carlson, 2010, p. 3). The benefit of Carlson’s (2010) revision steps show that “no one learns to write all at once; learning comes from a variety of experiences that academia makes available” (Becker, 1986, p. 91 as cited



in Carlson, 2010, p. 3). Students’ responses to the revision process shows that high expectations in writing, but more importantly in every step of the writing process, create effect writing. “Revision Blocked: Assessing A Writer’s Development” by Lynn Chrenka, Sandra Balkem, Faye Kuzma, and Brenda Vasicek (1996) also advocate for a portfolio system to improve student writing. At Ferris State University, professors struggle to get students to care about acceptable final drafts and to care about revising in order to get to acceptable final drafts (Chrenka et al., 1996). What they did discover was that by using portfolios, student writing did improve, particularly in their “sentence level when teachers guided that [revision] activity” (Chrenka et al., 1996, para. “Abstract”). What these professors advocate for in their final assessment of their research is for a more “positive and meaning-centered” way to comment (Chrenka et al., 1996, p. 3). By keeping comments in question format and by giving students things to consider for revision, not related to editing changes, the student revision attempts to answer each of the numbered set up questions, in order to receive full credit for the revision (Chrenka et al., 1996, Figure 1). Like the other articles and their research a familiar saying continues that Chrenka et al. mentions: “students will attend to that which teachers assess” (1996, p. 5). The findings in this research were inconclusive; professors disagreed upon grading the revisions, either with a completion grade or with a writing grade. Professors felt the statistics from their study as well as from the National Center for Developmental Education share similar results: “the average grade of the groups on completion of their first writing [graded assignment] showed a slight difference in favor of non-graded [assignments], but the difference was not statistically significant” (Chrenka et al., 1996, p. 6). Revisions matter and do help writing whether graded or not. Like Carlson’s (2010) article regarding grading and acceptable writing, Chrenka et al, also advocates for revisions. With these revisions portfolios are a necessary part because they allow students to see their writing improve, keeping a record of the drafts, their feedback and their results—the final copies of their writing. Portfolios however, argued by Chrenka et al. show rubrics for assessing the use of



revisions. This adds a new dimension to the portfolio; it goes beyond a place to put writing, but another tool to assess and to promote revisions. Figure 4 in Chrenka et al. shows simple rubric that the professors felt gave feedback to students on how to improve their writing by using the opportunities given for revision (1996, Figure 4). It does not list numbers of drafts, but rather shows the improvements made between drafts, even if just first draft to final draft. By giving feedback to the effectiveness of the revisions rather than by just completion grades, the students see the value in how well they revised. Edwina Helton and Jeff Sommers wrote an article titled “Repositioning revision: A rhetorical approach to grading” where they discussed how to add revision into the evaluation of writing (2000). They discussed how students “can be frustrated by the grades or responses they receive, and they may see revision as punishment for not getting their work right the first time. Revision is seen as extra work” (Helton & Sommers, 2000, p. 1). The system that Helton and Sommers use for their way of grading a portfolio is by identifying pieces of student writing as “Early, Middle, or Late” drafts (2000, p. 2). They feel that by waiting to give students a final assessment of the portfolio at the end of a course does allow for students and teachers to attend to writing and revisions, but makes for unsettled students feeling like they do not know where they stand in a course (Helton & Sommers, 2000). Their E, M, L system indicates a student’s writing stage, translating to how far a student must go with that particular piece. The student then knows how much work is needed before placing the piece in their portfolio for a final grade…one that cannot be changed. What students discussed in their reflections about the E-M-L system was that it not “degrade” their papers; instead it gave them direction on where to go next (Helton & Sommers, 2000, p. 3). Instead of deciding if a student can live with a grade given on a paper, no grades are given and an indication of where their paper is in an E-M-L system allows the student to see the work needed prior to a final draft. Students indicated that they usually didn’t do revisions if the grade was a C or better; this forced revision without even thinking about grades (Helton & Sommer, 2000).



One finding that was interesting not discussed with the other articles that discussed portfolios was the fact that portfolios are often a final product of the semester—writing that is written and revised, discussed with teacher and peers, and cumulated into a binder at the end of the semester causes students to feel uncertain where they are in the class. They feel worried about their grades and many just resolve to one-draft writing to complete the work. Whatever they have time for at the end of the semester, in terms of revision, is what gets revised. Similar to Helton and Sommer’s (2000) grading system, Rodney Y. Stutzman and Kimberly H. Race (2004) structured their grading rubric using acronyms: EMRF; this means E for excellent, M for meets expectations, R for revisions required, and F for fragmentary (p. 34). These teachers had questions that drove their research, thinking about things students should be asking about their writing: “Is my work at an acceptable level?” and “Am I on track to earn the grade to which I aspire in this course?” (Stutzman & Race, 2004, p. 34). These questions are what drove them to the four-tiered rubric. Stutzman and Race (2004) discovered that students translated the acronyms to grades, which deflated the students and the revising process. So, they created a rubric that answered a simple yes or no to “Does this work demonstrate understanding of the concept? and Does this work meet the expectations outlined in the assignment” (2004, p. 35). If the answer is Yes, the student writer will go to the next tier question: “Is it complete and well communicated?” (Stutzman & Race, 2004, p. 35). From here the students receive an E for excellent or an M for meets expectations (p. 35). If the answer is No to the original two questions, the student writer moves to the second tier as well, but answers this question: “Is there evidence of partial understanding” (Stutzman & Race, 2004, p. 35). The student writer will then receive either an R for needs revision or an F for fragmentary “clearly misunderstands and/or insubstantial attempt made” (Stutzman & Race, 2004, p. 35). What is powerful about this research in particular is the requirement of the revision process; a student writer must turn in a new copy with the original, but also an explanation that tells what was



wrong in the original writing. The argument is that a student “explanation of the error should be detailed enough to convince the reader that the student is unlikely to repeat that error” (Stutzman & Race, 2004, 36). Robert Marzano, Debra Pickering, and Jane Pollock’s (2001) book Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement, help teachers see that part of the problem with asking students to revise is an unclear understanding of revision. Teachers expect students to revise as part of the writing process, but do not realize students (and teachers) are operating under a “more specific subcomponent” of the word revising. Marzano et al. list the following components of revising:      Revising for the overall logic of the composition; Revising for effective transitions; Revising for word choice and phrasing; Revising for subject-verb agreement; and Revising for spelling and punctuation. (Marzano et al., 2001, p. 142)

Marzano et al. (2001) argue that teachers must put all of the components of revising into the writing process and the rubrics making each of these expectations for effective writing as well as asking students to reflect on the revisions made. These steps match what other teachers are stating; revising can be confusing for students, a major frustration for them, and an incredible way for students to think about their writing with as much objectivity as possible. In Differentiated Instructional Strategies: One Size Doesn’t Fit All by Gayle H. Gregory and Carolyn Chapman, the focus is on helping students in areas that are low. Revising and grading are not part of this book’s focus however, one of their specific tools of effective differentiation is the use of contracts. Gregory



and Chapman (2002) cite top researchers in the field of differentiation “Berte, 1975; Knowles, 1985; Robbins et al., 2000; Tomlinson, 1998, 1999; Winebrenner, 1992” explaining that contracts have often been used to allow students some flexibility and choice in their learning. Contracts have the potential for students to develop ‘flow,’ the state in which they are totally engaged in a challenging and motivating task that matches their skills and preferences. Contracts allow learners to be clear about expectations, use their multiple intelligence, take ownership of their learning, and learn to manage time and task. (Gregory & Chapman, 2002, p. 129) By applying contracts to revision, even struggling low writers would have clear focus for what is expected and feel successful with writing and writing revisions. Contracts are not something other researchers discussed but could be essential, especially with low-ability writers. Helping students feel successful and to understand why one should revise needs to start with a clear understanding of the writing assignment and the individual steps to achieve credit, to achieve effectiveness in writing, and to improve written communication. Another book about differentiation, Differentiation in Practice: A Resource Guide for Differentiating Curriculum, by Carol Ann Tomlinson and Caroline Cunningham Eidson (2003) advocates for multiple ways for assessment. Tomlinson and Eidson (2003) state that often teachers “often think of assessment narrowly—as something we do after learning ends so that we will have numbers to put in the grade book” (p. 14). Instead, teachers need to be willing and cognizant that “everything a student says and does is a potential source of assessment data” (Tomlinson & Eidson, 2003, p. 14). In regards to writing, these researchers state that teachers must grade a portion of student work from student growth; “A very bright learner who gets consistent As and never has to stretch or strive will become a damaged learner. A struggling student who persists and progresses will likely give up the fight if grade-level benchmarks remain out of reach” (Tomlinson & Eidson, 2003, p. 15).



Portfolios fit Tomlinson and Eidson’s (2003) demand for grading of growth. By allowing revisions, students can see their growth and teachers can assess how they have improved, even if the end result is not an “A” for writing, but instead and “A” for growth in writing. Challenging high-performing students would also force them to look at their writing for creative sentence structures, pleasing and memorable diction, and interesting syntax—forcing their writing to grow as well, in order to receive an “A” for their writing growth. Methodology and Research Design In Table 1 are the methods used for the research design. Self-assessments, observations, interviews and group discussions, surveys/polls, grades, and review of student writing are the various tools used. All of these are qualitative with the exception of the grades, which are quantitative. Table 1 Interviews/Group Discussions Throughout the research, pulled a random sampling of students to interview regarding revisions. Document Reviews Reviewed student progress through writing, revisions, student reflections, and student interviews.

SelfAssessments Students self assessed their writing in regards to the AP rubric, as well as reflections on use of revisions and student perception of its benefits.

Observations Teacher’s anecdotal records observed high-level writers, averagelevel writers and low-level writers to record their use of openrevisions.

Surveys/Polls Through an anonymous student survey, gauged student perceptions and benefits to open-revision grading—both in my classes, as well as outside my classes.

Grades By looking at student grades in writing, the number of revisions, and the use of standardized scores in writing, looked for possible patterns of growth or stagnation in writing.

Data Collection Plan Feb. 11, 2011 Student survey to my American Literature Honors students who participated in open-revision grading last semester Feb. 18, 2011 Student survey to my English 9 students who participated in open-revision grading last semester

‘DO OVER’ DOESN’T MEAN ‘GAME OVER’ March 3, 2011 Teacher observation notes regarding students’ overall participation in the open-revision process March 3-11, 2011 Random sampling of students interviewed


March 3-18, 2011 Students will self-assess his/her writing by using the same writing rubric I will use for grading. Students will also reflect on their use of revisions March 11-18, 2011 Analyze student data from standardized tests and writing grades searching for patterns March 21-25, 2011 Compare the writing revision process between the way I have usually done it vs. one of the processes I researched to compare results Sample Selection Table 2

Student Demographics  Enrollment     Daily Attendance  Mobility/Stabilit y  Socioeconomic Status (SES)  Student Behavior  Limited English Proficiency              Total number of registered students: I started with my Honors American Literature class since tried the open-revision with them last semester. I will give a different survey to my other students as I realize I want data of students that do not have any bias toward or against open-revision grading. I surveyed 31 students to start. I have 27 white, 2 Asian, and 1 African American The average attendance is 99%. Percent of tardies: .5% Number of students absent for more than 10 days—0. Mobility rate: 0% Stability rate: 100% Percent of students receiving free- or reduced-price lunch—0% Average level of parents’ education and/or household income--$80,000 Unemployment rates in the attendance area—2% Number or percentage of discipline referrals or incidents—0 for this class—12% for school. Number or percentage of student suspensions and expulsions—0 for this class; 2% for school. Frequency of gang related, substance abuse, or other at-risk behavior—0 for this class; 1% for school Percent of students with limited English proficiency—0% Percent of families who speak English as a second language—0%

‘DO OVER’ DOESN’T MEAN ‘GAME OVER’ Instruments Used to Collect Data    Surveys Interviews Grades   Findings Writing samples Writing reflections


Using qualitative research applied to quantitative data, findings showed students’ perceptions of revisions prior to seven months of open-revision grading (grading that allows for as many revisions as a student is willing to do and simply replacing the original grade with a new one to show the writing skill improvement)—as well as how their perceptions have changed throughout, afterwards…and why. Students indicated their own perceptions of revising; if they choose to revise willingly for a grade or not, what does make them revise and why, and for anecdotal records of student conversations, observations, and actions showing their aversion against or affinity towards revisions. The following, (see Table 3) shows the students’ response to: Prior to open-revision grading, what was your perception of revisions? Table 3 Student Perception of Revisions Prior to Open-Revision Grading Given Responses: Somewhat to extremely effective Effective Less than effective Not really effective Not effective at all Percentage: 4.2% 44.2% 37.2% 12.4% 2.0%

Total percentage that thought revisions were effective to extremely effective Total percentage that thought revisions were somewhat effective to not at all Table 3

48.4% 59.4%



After 8 months in a class where every writing assignment can be rewritten with the grade simply replaced, students then indicated how they felt about revisions (see Table 4). The data shows almost onehundred percent of the 43 students surveyed felt that open-revision grading, grading that allowed any number of revisions to improve grades and writing, did somewhat to greatly improve writing. Table 4 Perception of Revisions after 8 Months with an Open-Revision Grading Policy Given Responses: Revisions greatly improved writing Somewhat improved writing Neutral No improvement Percentage: 51.2% 44.2% 2.3% 2.3%

Percentage that felt Revisions Somewhat to Greatly Improved Writing Percentage that felt Neutral to No Improvement Table 4

95.4% 4.6%



Table 5 illustrates the percentages of how many students took advantage of the open-revision grading, at what point in the semester, and even why.

Table 5 Table 3 Percentage of Students that Took Advantage of the Open-Revision Grading Semester 1 Given Responses: Yes, on all assignments I thought needed revisions Only when required Yes on most assignments Not until the end, right before final grades Not at all Percentage: 32.6% 23.3% 20.9% 9.3% 11.6%

Percentage of students who did revisions prior to the end Percentage of students that waited until the end or did not do revisions at all Table 5

79.1% 20.9%



Second semester the pattern continues with the percentage of students who did revisions increasing to 96%; only two students out of 43 did not do any revisions just two months into the semester. The students indicated that the number one reason they revised last semester (72%) was that it was a requirement of an assignment. Second semester the number one reason they revised changed from a requirement to knowing the piece was not effective (60.9%). See Table 6 for the comparisons.

Table 6 Percentages that Show Students’ Recognition of What is Effective (or Not) with Their Writing Requirement of the assignment Parent enforced revision Teacher asked for a re-do Student knew the piece was not effective Table 6 First Semester 55.9% 5.8% 32.2% 6.1% Second Semester 17.4% 4.3% 17.4% 60.9%

During student interviews, students elaborated on why they have chosen to do revisions in this course. The following are their responses:  “I think that revising is effective because it allows students to understand what their work failed to do and what will allow it to fill the purpose you want it to fill. It isn't just you got this wrong but rather here is what you need to do to make it work.”

“Revising is very effective because with each draft, I feel that my writing becomes clearer and better organized. No first draft is ever perfect. It also helps to have others revise my writing so that I can make sure my writing makes sense to the reader.”



“I think it give students an opportunity to fix their mistakes which not only improves grades but also teaches students what errors they make and the appropriate way it should be done.”

“Revising is an outlet for me to better understand my writing, and strengthen my focus.”

And, when interviewing students that still did not choose to do revisions unless specifically asked, one of the students realized that it does improve his writing; “Things aren't always right the first time, but with revision I can make things right. That’s when I feel like I learn because I see what's wrong and I make it better.” Teachers surveyed limited the revising opportunities to a maximum of one revision; in fact over 75% of 17 teachers surveyed (7 English, 4 Social Studies, 3 Science, and 2 Business Teachers) would at most let students write and revise once. Instead of revisions, teachers felt that improving writing would be better served by daily practice (50%), allowing students to write about what they know (25%), and conferencing with the teacher (25%). Students did agree that conferencing was an essential part of revising. Eighty percent of students felt that conferencing with a teacher is what helped to direct and refine their writing; “I feel like I am not completely lost and have a better understanding of which direction my writing is headed. After conferencing, I know what my mistakes were and have a better idea of what I need to change for next time.” Limitations of Study Widening the sample of students surveyed, observed, interviewed, etc. would benefit this study. Making certain the pattern that existed at this school, within two classes, continued in schools of low social-economic status, in classes other than English, and various age groups would give validity to the

study. Being able to track particular students who were on the “bubble” for state standardized tests, or who were unsatisfactory in writing to see if their scores improve after using this system also would add a strong quantitative piece of data.



Action Plan

Looking at student grades in writing, it is often one of the students’ lowest grade categories percentage-wise. The following problem statements address this:  By allowing students to re-do assignments in the reading and writing categories, students feel in charge of their grades;  Students will begin to see the benefits to re-doing work…and thus, strengthening the writing and reading skills; and  Parents will see the efforts of their student to improve not only grades, but also skills.

Surveying, observing, interviewing, and analyzing 43 students in the 9th and 10 grade, all varying student skill levels for English (reading comprehension and writing), open-revising grading has provided the process necessary for students to stop “grade grubbing” every point and to focus on how to improve his or her skill within a particular assignment. Anything in the Reading Comprehension or Writing category in the grade book is something a student is allowed to revise for me. The percentages show an amazing involvement in the class with revision. Three students in particular who were not willing to revise, even when required, even when discussion with parents occurred, have now been conferencing with me unprompted about revisions. Their skills have improved and their engagement and behavior has improved greatly as well. Moving forward, I need to look specifically at students’ writing grades, number of revisions that actually did, and compare these with what they have done so far this semester.

Anecdotally I know they are writing better and are visiting with me more often, but I want to spend some time gathering data to show this from the grade book. I also would like to send



parent surveys forms home to get their feedback as well. I want to know if this progress is translating to conversations at home as well. The next thing that has come out of this process is that I have employed one of grading tools from the research. Two math teachers actually that teach in my district wrote a paper on grading writing. They use a system that allows for fast grading, but effective feedback. I thought about how that would look at work. The AP rubric used for Advanced Placement (AP) courses are holistic; why shouldn’t I start to adapt a similar style with my writing feedback? I created a form that deals with all the MLA mistakes, formatting issues, punctuation issues---mistakes common to all students. Each mistake is numbered so all I have to do is mark the number on the paper. This has made the revising and grading process so much quicker. In terms of overall feedback, I started using a T-chart to show where they are in their learning on a particular expectation content-wise. For students’ written annotations this semester, they needed to write about one-third of the book at a time, discussing 3 of 7 topics (characterization, symbols, setting, etc.). Within each discussion, getting the students to think about where they are headed with their next paper, students needed to include and analyze three components in each paragraph. Content focus 1 was to show the students’ observations, wonderings, questions, and connections. Content focus 2 was to discuss author’s craft (diction, syntax, tone, motifs, etc.). Content focus 3 was to discuss their literary theory choice (psychoanalytic, feminism, etc.). On the top of the paper, I made a T-chart with an “E” for Effective on the one side and an “M” for Missing. If the

student discussed the content focus well, the corresponding number went under the “E” and if it was partially discussed but needed work, the content focus number was placed in the middle. Lastly, if the content focus was barely there or missing, the content focus number went under the

“M” on the T-chart. The students had a visual for every paragraph and could look at the handout for specifics on what skills needed to be improved. Students then chose to fix them on their own, or came in to discuss issues, questions. I would like to get feedback from the students on how well they think this worked and what they needed differently, if anything. One question that I need clarity on is the qualitative vs. quantitative difference and what is required for this project. I worry that my findings might not be valid “enough” and that it doesn’t feel like a strong enough research project, in regards to educational research. I feel that what I set out to prove is coming to fruition, but I hope the data collected reveals what seems to be a pattern emerging. Conclusions The pattern shows that open-revision grading does help students see revisions in a positive light and, in doing so, willingly do rewrites strengthening their writing. Hearing struggling writers state that they feel their writing improve and that they actually have a way to improve their grades means students are motivated first by grades, but then notice the improvement in their writing. This is the goal: having kids feel that a ‘Do Over’ written on their paper means they have a chance to improve, a chance to earn more points…not that they have failed, that they have to start all over, feeling as if the phrase instead says ‘Game Over.’ Students see the benefit of revisions when allowed to rewrite and re-do as many times as needed to

improve their grade. Within six months however, the data shows students noticing writing improve and their comments reflect the writing focus instead of being so grade focused.

‘DO OVER’ DOESN’T MEAN ‘GAME OVER’ References Carlson, J. A. K. (March 2010). How can a grading method improve the quality of students’ written work? American Alliance for Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Retrieved from ERIC Education Journals. Chrenka, L. et al. (March 1996). “Revision Blocked: Assessing a Writer’s Development.” Annual Meeting of the Conference on College composition and Communication in Milwaukee, WI, March 27-30, 1996. Retrieved from ERIC Education Journals. Gregory, Gayle H. & Carolyn Chapman. (2002). Differentiated Instructional Strategies: One Size Doesn’t Fit All. California: Corwin Press, Inc.. Print. Helton, E. L. & Jeff Sommers. (December 2000). Repositioning revision: A rhetorical approach to grading. Teaching English in the Two Year College: 28 (2). Retrieved from ProQuest Education Journals. Marzano, R. J., Debra J. Pickering & Jane E. Pollock. (2001). Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement. Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Print. Stutzman, R. Y. & Kimberly H. Race. (2004). EMRF: Everyday rubric grading. Mathematics Teacher; 97 (1). Retrieved from Google Scholar: Tomlinson, C. A. & Caroline C. Eidson. (2003). Differentiation in Practice: A Resource Guide for Differentiating Curriculum. Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Print.




Zigmond, R. H. (March 2006). The number approach to grading papers. Teaching English in Two Year College: 33 (3). Retrieved from ProQuest Education Journals.

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