Sharing TPS Drafts & Feedback

Leonne's second draft

Re: Leonne's second draft

by Sue Hellman -
Number of replies: 0

Hi Leonne, 

I've waited a couple of days to respond to your second draft so that all the voices in the resources I shared and other drafts I read would fade. I'm not entirely comfortable in the role of online reviewer anyway. I'd much rather sit with you over a coffee and have a conversation about what you like in your piece, what I think best fulfills the 'requirements' (as loose as they are) of this kind of writing, and to test some possibilities together. In this case, I have my coffee within reach and will have to settle for imagining you with yours musing over my comments. 

Re: being on "a rant" -- I think that all ABE teachers have to feel their mission deeply in order to do the work well and over an extended time. Many of the students we work with are not easy. They depend on the fact that we believe in our mission and in their capacity to learn in order to to get through their most difficult moments. That's especially true in math. After all, it's the most hated and feared of all subjects. Society has decided that it's perfectly acceptable to be 'not good' at math. A pseudo-science has evolved to make it sound like this 'deficiency' is neurological which makes giving up the struggle just good sense. There are plenty of role models of high powered 'math zombies' including Judge Judy and Michelle Obama which makes giving up even easier. From my point of view, shaping one's life to avoid math (because even thinking about it causes extreme discomfort) is so unnecessary. That's where I get fanatical -- so ranting a little is permitted, even in at TPS -- although it might carry more weight if you accompany it with some statistics or research to back up your position.

I think you may be confusing injecting yourself into the piece as ranting, when it comes across to me as your inviting me into your world. I feel that I'm meeting you in those paragraphs, and I get a sense of how passionate you are with your using the word 'passionate' (big check mark). The point of a TPS is for the reader to get to know you as a teacher. Your first draft read like a how-to piece on ABE teaching. This one begins to paint a picture of what it's like to be in one of YOUR classes (another big check). 

So ... the big question is what to focus on next. Two things jump out at me: organization and examples. I suggest trying what's called 'reverse outlining' with the 2 paragraphs in the body This is a way to more objectively find gaps and overlaps in a first draft. In this case, I'd (a) list all the claims you make. Attach to each, (b) whatever explanation(s) you've provided and (c) the specific examples from your work that illustrate and research/authoritative sources that support each claim. This approach might be called: assertion; elaboration; evidence OR assertion, evidence, commentary (see Claremont Workbook, pp. 24-28 for excellent examples & exercises). This will help you cluster your content thematically and ensure that you flesh out your claims with specifics. You can also use the new checklist attached below to make sure you've anticipated all the major questions that your reader will have about your work. This will also help the flow of your piece. 

Now for a few finer details: 

  • sometimes you leap into a description without giving any background or definitions. If you're writing for an audience familiar with ABE courses and classes, this might work. If not, it can be helpful to set some common ground. If you explain/describe ABE programs and the 3 levels of students in one or two sentences first, that will set the scene for what follows and will get all readers onto the same page. 
  • I would combine the first and last paragraphs and simplify. You might do the readability test suggested by Cathy Moore at A score in the 50's would be the range to aim for in a TPS. She explains towards the bottom of the page how to do this using Word. 
  • Where did the stuff about 3M's come from? A good TPS includes sources that back up pedagogical choices. Is there research about the effectiveness of mindset teaching? 
  • "My success as a teacher is a reflection of my students’ success." This is a key statement. How do you measure their success and therefore your own? 
  • The conclusion needs work. Try going in a new direction rather than recapping the same main theme. There are a few suggestions here under Structure --

Whew!!! That's a lot for one review but, as we don't have the luxury of chatting back and forth, I thought I'd lay out what we might cover in several f2f conversations. I hope it's not too much. If you feel like sharing the next draft, I can be reached at

I can see a big difference between your 2 drafts. This is not an easy genre to learn, but you're on the right track.