Editing and Revision, IV

salvēte iterum, amīcī. Today we’ll look at Editing and Revision through three different lenses. We’ll begin with editorial comments about our contributor David H’s second submitted story, proceed to consider the Tres Columnae editing process in general, and end with a look at some recent revisions we’ve made at www.TresColumnae.com/wiki.

As promised, here’s my rating of David H’s second contribution to the Tres Columnae project. Once again, here’s the story … just in case you haven’t seen it in a while, or in case you don’t want to go and click this link to see it “live” at the website:

Quid agis? Si vales, deinde valeō sum. Quid nomen tibi est? Ortellium mē vocant. Unde venitis? Ubi habitas? Quam patriam habēs? Hibernicus sum. In Hiberniā habitō. Hibernia insula parva ac pulchra est, prope Britanniam. Dē vitā meā tibi narrare volō.

Rusticus summissus sum, atque senex macilentus et stomachosus. Nec fratres nec sorores habeō. Uxorem quoque nōn habeō. Baccalaureus sum. Quamquam multos amicos et multas amicas habeō, solitarius homo sum, et vītam quiētam ac simplicem vīvō. Hoc mihi placet.

Senex invenustus sum, nōn pulcher. Barbam longam et horridam habeō, sed caput meus calvus est. Ego quoque caecus in unō oculō sum. Genūs meae nōn bonae, sed malae sunt. Genūs meae semper tumident ac dolent. Praeterea claudus sum, ergō agilis non sum. Multis abhinc annis in lutō lapsavi et ad terram cēcidi, atque coxam meam frēgī. Paulisper ambulare nōn poteram. Iampridem iuvenis validus eram, atque currere celeriter poteram. Hodiē currere nōn possum. Difficilis est mihi ambulare, ergō baculō lentē ambulō. Claudicare mihi nōn placet.

Ō mē miserum! Tempus fugit atque senescere mihi quoque nōn placet. Quam molestus est! Interdum melancholicus et morosus sum. Quamquam senex sum et sine dubiō vita dura et onerosa est, nihilominus nōn desperō. Magnam pecuniam et dives nōn habeō, sed pauper non sum. Ut dixi, ego multos amicos et multas amicas habeō.

Morphology and Syntax: Not Yet Acceptable, but quite close. We just need to help you fix those adjective-agreement problems (usually with neuter-gender nouns and masculine or feminine adjectives) and a few verbs (valeō sum?). But the accusative-for-nominative issue present in his first posting has evidently resolved itself. One other small thing: caecus in ūnō oculō isn’t very idiomatic. But there are several ways that this phrase might be improved. We also need to be consistent about macron use, but that falls into the category of “typographic” editing.

In the mature Tres Columnae system, we’d send you a suggestion for self-correcting exercises that could be used to help you practice adjective agreement … and so, rather than seeming like an impediment, grammatical exercises suddenly take on meaning because they help you improve your writing rather than taking up your valuable time. That’s one of many ways that user-created content can actually help to build Ownership of the “things” that teachers want their students to learn!

Vocabulary: Acceptable. There are, again, a few slightly obscure words, but the meaning is generally clear from context or from English derivatives. Also, we should probably change magnam pecūniam in the last paragraph (which implies a really big coin!) to something more idiomatic like “multum pecūniae.”

Storyline: Acceptable. It’s an interesting story, with some nice links to the other story about Ortellius as well as to other content on the site. It also stands nicely by itself. I continue to think Ortellius is going to be a very interesting and continuing figure as we learn more about him. 🙂 I now wonder if one of our “primary” characters might contrive to meet him somehow….

If you haven’t noticed, lectōrēs cārissimī, I’d like to point out a few things about the editing style we’ll use at Tres Columnae:

  • You may have noticed that we began with the rubric and directed all of our comments to the ways that the submission did, or perhaps did not, meet the standards of a particular level. We think that’s absolutely essential! Sadly, evaluation and assessment will often become an afterthought for busy teachers. It takes a long time to devise the project and to find the resources, so we go ahead and assign it to the students (I’ve certainly been guilty of this myself over the years) and, only then, realize we’re not sure how we want to assess it! 🙂 I’ve seen a lot of plaintive queries to this effect on the Latinteach listserv and elsewhere, and if there had been listservs in my early years of teaching, I’m sure I would have generated some of these queries.
  • You may have also noticed that we focused on the positive. That’s also a core value at Tres Columnae. David H’s work is quite good, so it’s easy to focus on the positive … but we didn’t ignore the areas for improvement, either. Too often, factory-model schools fall into an “either-or” trap when it comes to this issue. Some focus entirely on the negative (5 misspelled words! Three sentence fragments! Minus 200 points … oh, wait, not 200!), discouraging their students and making them feel incompetent or unworthy. Others focus only on the positive (“Billy, that was a very creative sentence! What does the word KQVLM mean in this context?”) and give their learners a false sense of accomplishment.

At Tres Columnae, Our goal is to help our learners have a realistic sense of their accomplishments, and to make error correction and revision an expected and welcomed part of the learning process … just as it is in every kind of non-academic learning. Imagine what would happen if you were learning to ride a bicycle and your parent said “Oh, Jenny, you fell! You’re a failure for all time!” Or, on the other hand, if the parent said, “Johnny, you did great! You did a wonderful job hitting that tree!” Poor little Jenny and Johnny would probably never get on that bicycle ever again! 🙂 Instead, the parents probably gave loving corrective feedback, and the children became capable riders. We aim to do the same for our learners.

Speaking of editing and revision, I wanted to let you know about some improvements we’ve recently made at the Tres Columnae version alpha wiki:

  • There’s now a “mind map” feature which will show the connections between wiki pages.
  • We think the TikiWiki WYSIWYG editor is now working better, for you Free Trial subscribers who have been complaining. We’d still recommend, though, that you write your stories in your favorite word processor, then cut and paste them into the editing box.
  • With many thanks to our talented illustrator Lucy M, the Tres Columnae logo is now featured on every wiki page.
  • More illustrations and audio will be linked soon, including pictures of most major characters.
  • Most stories through the end of Lectiō Sexta have now been uploaded and are available from the Table of Contents page. Lectiōnēs Septima through Decima will be coming in the next few days.

By the end of March, we’ll be giving our Free Trial subscribers access to some of the interactive exercises and quizzes. There’s still time to request a Free Trial subscription at this link!

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • First, what do you think of David’s stories?
  • What do you think of our editing and revision model?
  • What about the rubric itself?
  • And what other features would you like to see online at www.TresColumnae.com/wiki – and when would you like to see them?

For our readers in the U.S., we’d like to let you know that there will be a session about Online Collaborative Writing with the Tres Columnae Project at the American Classical League Institute in July 2010 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Hope to see you there! We’ll also hope to be at other, similar meetings in the fall, winter, and beyond. In the meantime, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus! Please keep those comments and emails coming, and tune in on Monday for another series (including several stories) featuring participles and infinitives.

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