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Perseverance is Modeled, Encouraged, and Shared in the Writing Environment

Strategies for Modeling and Encouraging Perseverance 

Instructional Purposes

  • These strategies are intended to help normalize challenge and struggle in writing processes, to help students think about how they are growing their writing practices across multiple texts they compose.  
  • These strategies are also intended to help students rethink the way they experience feedback on their writing.  Rather than positioning feedback as merely evaluation or explanation for a grade, these strategies position feedback as conversation and relationship-building between the teacher-reader and student-writer and between the student and their writing practices.

Student Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to articulate their writing choices, as well as how they handled moments of struggle. 
  • Students will analyze reader feedback in order to make specific personal writing goals.

Strategy:  Student Annotation of Draft/Final Text

  • Before providing feedback on a draft or final text (either by the teacher or peers), ask students to mark several places in the text for specific feedback.  Here are some questions/prompts that may be used, depending on the teacher’s goals for that particular text:
  • Mark at least one place where you struggled as a writer.  Then add a note about what you struggled with in that place (e.g., Were you struggling to clearly express your thinking? Were you trying to achieve a specific effect, such as the passage of time in a narrative?). To what extent were you able to work through that struggle, and what strategies did you use? 
  • Mark at least one place where you have a question for your reader.  Ask your reader to either pause there to respond to your question, or to read on and respond later. 
  • Mark at least one place where you tried something different as a writer.  Briefly explain what you tried (Where did you get the idea? What were you trying to accomplish?) and how you think it went. 
  • Mark at least one place where you feel uncertain or would like feedback.  Perhaps you are wondering about a reader’s reaction to a certain section, or you are wondering about clarity, or you are trying to achieve a certain effect.
  • These student annotations can be accomplished digitally (e.g., through inserted comments on Word or on a Google Doc) or on paper (e.g., through using post-it notes affixed to the draft, perhaps with arrows to specific lines/sections of a text).  Respondents can either reply using digital comment responses or by adding their own post-it notes. 

Strategy:  Student Feedback Response

[Some ideas adapted from:  “Building Hopeful Secondary School Writers through Effective Feedback Strategies” by Nicole Sieben (English Journal 106.6 (2017): 48-53)]

  • Invite the student to write a brief author note to you before submitting their paper.  By writing this directly to you (in an informal letter/note format), the student begins a conversation with you as they share their work (e.g., Dear Ms. Smith, …)
    • In the author note, ask students to reference one or two places they felt they had to persevere as a writer, to overcome a challenge or to try something new.  The student could reference this directly in the author note, or they could point to inserted comments/post-its on their paper.
  • When responding to student work as you read, highlight elements that you find effective and areas where you have questions.  Again, framing these responses as conversation with the student can help the student think more purposefully about their audience and about partnerships in writing. 
  • Rather than over-commenting on a paper as you read, consider writing a note at the end, in which you focus on the student’s writing strategies and practices (rather than merely on the text alone).  For example, you can point to things you notice the student doing as a writer that were particularly effective, and make specific suggestions for next steps in their writing development.  
  • After sharing your feedback with the student, ask the student to write a feedback response letter or notes to you, in which they select the specific elements of their writing they want to attend to in future work.  Here are some prompts that may be useful for this purpose:
    • What feedback were you the most proud to read?  Why?
    • After reading my feedback on your writing, what questions do you have for me?  Are there comments you would like me to clarify?  Are there strategies or mentor texts you would like me to help you explore?  
    • What is one thing you accomplished in this piece of writing that you would like to continue to develop in future texts?  
    • What is one goal you have for yourself as a writer (perhaps a practice or technique you would like to try, or a realization you don’t want to forget)? 
  • If a student is revising a particular text, ask them to annotate their revision in order to highlight what they are trying that is new and why.