Each day, I begin my ELA class with Reading Time. This is a time for students to access a range of texts. I use this time to conference with students, collect data on class patterns and trends with independent reading and to provide individualized support.
Revising is one of the greatest tools young writers can have. Since it is so important and beneficial, we spend a lot of time discussing different revision strategies in my classroom and applying them. This allows us to address the Common Core's objective on revising and editing. I do agree with the Common Core's mention of revising and editing. I want students to understand the importance and benefit of revision. Not only does it all for each writing piece to become stronger, but the entire process allows students to grow as writers. Many students do not feel comfortable or confident as writers. Giving them the tools and strategies to revise shows them ways to make their writing stronger.
We start by reading an article by Allegra Goodman, a novelist, titled Inspiration Revised. This article gives our class a nice framework for discussing and thinking about revision and the importance of it. The article is personal essay so it is nice to read some non-fiction during units that do not focus on those skills directly so students can have constant exposure to it.
We read the article once as a class to get a general understanding of what the article is about and then to clarify any confusion. The second time I have them answer the following questions in their notebooks:
I make sure the questions I ask are open-ended and even a little text-dependent. Students are very quick to respond with short answers so I purposely word the questions so students have to find answers. As students are answering the questions, I can spend time seeing how they respond. This gives me a good understanding of their thoughts on the possibility of revision.
Now we focus on certain revision strategies so students have concrete ways to work on revising their narratives. My students are not sophisticated enough as writers to revise on their own yet. They need guided practice that works for them.
The list that I give students titled "Tinkering and Revising" I received from one of my grad professors, Tom Romano. I enjoy this list because it gives certain clear ways to revise their narratives. This is a great resource to use when introducing revision. It clearly outlines specific ways for students to revise their writing. For example, they can look at word choice and sensory details. By giving them manageable revision strategies that are specific and clear, students will be much more willing and able to actually revise. This video explains the handout: Tinkering and Revising Handout Explanation
We will spend a few minutes reading the different strategies and discussing them as a class. This is more to serve as an overview. Some students already include some of these revisions naturally in their writing, others do not. As we are reading the list, I have students mark the strategies that they think they need to work on the most. This helps them to evaluate themselves as writers and take ownership of their work. Since my students are focused on a grade, I discretely let them know that those who do the best on the narratives are those that spend time revising.
I model for my students before they start revising on their own. This helps them to see exactly what revision looks like and helps give them a clear focus as to what they will need to do. Students need to see good models: not just of final product but also of process.
On my Smartboard, I pull up my own narrative in a word document. The narrative I am working on focused on a home-stay I had for four days in Spain. As I read the narrative I show them some of my revisions that I will be making and why I need to make these revisions. These revisions are tied directly to the handout we just reviewed. I specifically mention some of the strategies from the handout, such as using precise language and avoiding generic words, as those were two areas I wanted to work on.
Once I finish reading the narrative, I ask for suggestions. I remind students the suggestions they give me must be based off the Tinkering And Revising handout. I insert new comments in the word document for each suggestion they gave me that relates to the handout. At times, students may mention a typo but I remind them we are in the revising stage and not the editing stage.
While the handout is great for students, some of the strategies can be difficult so it may be beneficial to review some of the strategies in greater depth. I find some students struggle with improving sound and rhythm. I usually spend time with higher-level students working on this strategy.
Tomorrow we will begin the class with students revising their own narratives.