The Revision stage of the writing process parallels the Insightful and Critical stages of Hyde’s AICR process; however, students often lack concrete tools for improving their own writing and the writing of their peers. “I like it,” does not support the revision stage of the writing process because it does not push the writer to look more Critically at the writing. Remember, “I don’t like it” is not the kind of critical we are going for here.
I offered the students a Revision strategy called Question Conference, which I picked up from reading Barry Lane’s book on writing process, After the End. We rehearsed with a model exercise: Alice read aloud, but only one in eleven students generated a question about content or style. Conversely, every soul in the room indicated through a show of hands that s/he had feedback. Alice said, “I really want to know what they think,” but I insisted they refrain from telling her how they felt about her essay. I wanted them to generate Inquiry not reaction.
We modeled one more time with Jake, and students generated more questions the second time. Then in pairs, each senior read his or her essay aloud as the partner developed questions. Again, I insisted they refrain from feedback outside of the questions. I restrained them for an entire ten minutes before I removed the gag rule and released a torrent of personal reaction to each other’s writing: “It totally gives me a picture of you.” “I don’t know if it works.” “I like it.”
Each student now faces the task of completing the Hyde learning cycle by thinking Critically about the questions posed by the listener and taking Responsibility for writing answers. In the end, each student will need to have the Courage to make the changes s/he deems necessary and take the final step of Responsibility to Publish the essay to the intended audience.