I recently created this handout for my students to go over on the day they submitted the first draft of their first essay. I wanted to encourage them to become more reflective writers and practice thinking deeply about what they had written. I think building strategies and seeing examples are incredibly valuable for our students. 

After we looked at and discussed this handout, I gave my students time in class to review their own draft and make corrections before they submitted it to me. Today I finished providing feedback on that stack of drafts, and I was impressed by how many comments and changes they made.  I was also quite happy with how many of them caught mistakes and made positive changes to the grammar and wording of their sentences. Below you can read about the activity sequence I used with this handout.


  1. Ask students to bring in a printed draft of their essay. 
  2. Ask students to do a freewrite to reflect on their essay and writing process. I gave my students the following prompt: 
    1. Take out a piece of paper and spend 10 minutes writing a letter to me. How do you feel about your draft for essay 1? What was your writing process? How much time have you spent on it so far? What are you struggling with? What questions do you have? 
  3. I then posed the question to the class “What do effective writers do when they write?” We talked about this for a bit and I highlighted the idea that they ask questions, analyze their writing, and work to revise what they’ve written. 
  4. We then went over the handout and read through the list of questions. We also looked at the revision example on the second page and talked about what different things the person had written on her paper. 
  5. Next, I asked them to take out their own drafts and take 20-30 minutes to carefully read through it, analyze, ask questions, and write changes on the draft. 
  6. When I left my own feedback on their drafts this weekend, many of the comments the students had left became great starters for my own comments. Some students asked questions about their changes, such as “Is this comma correct?” or “is this sentence necessary?” Providing feedback then became almost a conversation. 

I hope you find this handout helpful. If you use it, let me know how it went in the comments below.

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