What could teachers do to help students revise?
When the essays are complete, teachers could reproduce a few sample student essays (with the students’ permission) and ask the class to analyze them. Teachers could ask: Is there a thesis? Do the topic sentences in the body support that thesis? Is the thesis repeated in the topic sentences? Is the thesis well supported in the body or is more information needed? Does the information in each paragraph support the topic sentence of that paragraph? If not, what should the writer do with that off-topic information? Is the information presented logically? Does the information in the introduction lead into the thesis? Does the conclusion return to the ideas presented in the introduction?
Teachers could write and show their own response to the prompt to offer an example of a well written response for the students to model.
Teachers could give students more time to improve their essays after they have analyzed other essays.
Teachers could have students read their essays to a partner for feedback before turning in their essays.
Before grading the essays, narratives, summaries, etc., teachers could return the writing marked with one idea for improvement. Yes, the teacher would need to read each essay more than once. But for the initial read, the teacher would need only to identify one glaring error which the student could then fix before receiving a grade. Or if there is no glaring error, the teacher could suggest one idea for improvement (“How about turning this section into dialog?” Or “How about turning some compound sentences into complicated simple sentences?”)
The time to teach writing is not after the writing is graded but before and during the writing process while there is still time for the student to learn. This is the time when students are most receptive to ideas which will help them become better writers.