Speed Dating for Research Papers

Teacher:  Mary Tedrow

School:  John Handley High School, VA

Class:  High School


Speed-date your research papers. There is nothing worse than taking home a pile of papers, spending a weekend marking them up only to have students ignore the marks, repeat the mistakes, and learn nothing in the process. The next time a major paper is due, and MLA formatting (or the format du jour) and other requirements are a part of your expectations, build in a day for “speed-dating” the paper.
The concept is simple: Half the class acts as an expert on one area of the paper; the other half comprises the moving “daters.” Each student has two minutes to visit an expert, hand over their paper, and have the student close-read for specific areas (i.e. can the student find and highlight a thesis? Is there specific evidence in each paragraph? Is the paper formatted correctly? and so forth). Each of the lessons taught in the process of developing the paper should have a student checker. Plus, add in your own pet peeves—those items you are continually correcting.

Daters move on until everyone has visited each station. Then, switch roles and have your checkers become daters.

Every student will leave the class with a draft that needs revising and editing. Then, set your due date for the final and require that students turn in both a clean draft and the marked draft. Emphasize that students are responsible for making all the changes.

All students become experts in at least one area of the paper, while all students get the message that they are responsible for bringing drafts to a publishable level and that doing so is a complex process requiring multiple readings of your own writing.

And you don’t have to mark all of the papers.