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Assigning revision memos

Pamela Flash

When student writers are asked to reflect on their revisions-in-progress, they are more likely to make thoughtful choices and instructors are less likely to find themselves taking time to suggest revisions that students are already planning to make. Revision memos can be required between drafts, when students are turning a 2nd draft in to instructors for comments, or they can accompany final drafts.

Revision memo assignment

Attach a revision memo to your second draft. (Note: I won't read the drafts until I get one.)


  1. A summary of the comments and suggestions your peers made about your first draft

  2. A description of what you changed in moving from the first draft to the second draft

  3. A list of changes you know that you need to make in your final draft, but haven't made yet

  4. A brief list of points you would like me to be looking at and specific questions and concerns you have regarding this draft

Revision memo sample

Below is a sample revision memo, written by a student:

EngC 1012
May 2, 2000

Topic: I'm arguing in defense of the Hmong practice of animal sacrifice for medicinal reasons

Audience: An open letter to Norm Colman, the mayor of St. Paul, to be printed in the Pioneer Press

  1. Summarize the feedback you've received from your peer group:

    My group was interested in this topic (they had never heard about this practice or the recent reports about it). All three peers agreed that I went too much into the history (interview with my father) part of these practices and was relying too much on one source. Also, John felt that I need to present this more as defense of a policy claim (rather than value, what I have). He told me that I am expecting emotional response from the reader rather than using reason to show the hypocritical policy.

    Also, Luke suggested that I change the location of my claim - move it later in the draft (I have it in the first paragraph). Sandra agreed, and suggested that I start with a description of the ceremony and then give the policy that shut the butcher shop down.

  2. What has changed?

    I tried to change the claim to one that talked about how the inspections policy should be changed, but now I'm not sure where to put the interview information I got from my father. I also went into more detail with some of the aspects of the ritual, so that Pioneer Press readers would understand how it worked. I put my claim in the 6th paragraph, after the narrative part, but now my first paragraph looks a little weak to me.

  3. What I know I still need to work on: I know I need to focus more on the policy that I want the target audience to change and I need to address the mayor a little more directly about what his role could be in solving this cultural clash. I need to consider his point of view too: he needs to figure out how to make an exception for the standards of some butcher shops and still hold other butcher shops to the regular standards. Finally, I think I come on a little bit strongly about the way that the Hmong are in the US against their will—this might alienate some readers.

  4. Questions:Is my lead strong enough? Have I taken most of the emotional appeal out? Does my claim "bite off more than I can chew"?