This blog was originally posted on April 16th, 2015.
In my last post, I suggested ways to use highlighters in peer revision. In this one, we’re moving into dangerous territory—dangerous because scissors are involved (no running!).
Bring a few pairs of scissors to class and some tape. Ask students to cut up a copy of their paper into individual paragraphs and then to shuffle them. (You can also ask them to do this part before class, bringing in the cut up paragraphs in an envelope.) Peers are given the individual slips of writing and then asked to put them in the right order, taping them back together.
The primary goal of this exercise is to help students with organization. I usually frame it with a discussion about organization and transitions. Most often, students get taped together papers with one or more paragraphs out of place. These are probably paragraphs that need a better transition but this exercise will also reveal a paper that just makes a series of points without suggesting any logical order to those points. This is to say that the exercise will reveal both local and global problems with organization.
There is a secondary effect of this technique, too. Students, receiving long strips of taped together writing, are offered a new perspective on what they’ve accomplished by seeing how much writing they have done when receiving one long taped together strip of paper. They tend to be really impressed with what they have been able to accomplish, as well they should be.