Teaching students to prewrite, write, and rewrite is a challenge. Much like asking gifted students to show their work in math, process writing is frustrating for gifted students who work intuitively. However, what better motivation is there than the chance to point out someone else’s errors AND be rewarded for it?
My class wrote short stories based on the tiny story “Knock.”
The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door…
I envisioned their stories having professional quality illustrations to complement the spooky theme of this prompt. Yet, I knew only a handful of my students had that level of artistic ability. So, I thought, why not allow them to illustrate other students’ writing (for a price, of course)? I then realized that I could do the same thing for editing. A handful of my students can edit a paper just as well as I can, why not allow them to make a profit for their skills as well.
In the end, I developed five jobs, each with a corresponding Frame (more information on this Kaplan-created graphic organizer here).
- Illustrator: Provides four high-quality illustrations.
- Editor: Fixes grammar errors, improves sentence structure.
- Language Lifter: Increases sophistication of language.
- Character Analyst: Improves character development.
- Setting Specialist: Improves description of the setting.
The frames (and instructions) are available for download here.
The Hiring Process
I presented the following scenario:
Congratulations. Your story’s draft has been accepted by Byrd ‘N Mifflin Publishing. You have been offered an advance of 25 tickets (our classroom currency). You will use this paycheck to hire employees to help improve your tale.
I then handed out a contract for students to agree upon services and payments with each other. I loved seeing how my class recognized the top editors in the class and offered to pay them more for their services. Equally exciting was seeing students come back the next day and demand an increase in pay since “there were so many run-on sentences.” I’d never heard such passion from the writing process!
A Week Of Editing
Students had a week to get their five frames completed. I gave them time in class and also expected frames to be completed as homework. At the end of the week, all frames were finished and I had remarkably few complaints (which were filed using a “Breach Of Contract” form I worked up from Byrd ‘N Mifflin’s legal department).
Revising For The Final Draft
Students then had a final week to incorporate the changes from their frames into their published story. They developed their stories into mini-books using the illustrations from their frames.
What Would I Change?
While the whole process went remarkably smoothly, I might set up a chart displaying which jobs people were offering to perform to help simplify the “hiring process.” This would also help the more timid students who had difficulty finding employers/employees.
PDF and .doc versions of the documents I created for this project are available here (the frames themselves are only PDFs because of formatting issues).