I've found that students struggle with revising. They often mistake it for editing and even then they limit this part of the process to looking for misspelled words. In this lesson I will ease students into revising by arming them with a set of tools to use as they revise their writing.
Today we looked at revising for ideas. I began the lesson by asking students what they think revising means. I listened to several students’ responses and then we moved on. I showed students my model writing that I’ve been using throughout this unit. As I wrote this “model” piece of writing, I made sure I included areas that needed revising. I often write with my students or use my own writing during modeling sessions so students see authentic writing and the thought process that goes into creating a piece of writing from start to finish. We begin to look at my writing and I ask students to read it quietly while I read it aloud. I tell students that this is probably the most efficient tool, reading your writing aloud. I ask students to quickly tell me what they think of the writing. Students give positive feedback but don’t mention anything worth changing. So I tell students that I want to publish this piece but it needs revising. I need to revise it for ideas. It’s important to make sure my ideas are clear and interesting. It is important for me to have enough details to support my ideas as well. Also, since we are using the descriptive text structure, I need to make sure my writing is descriptive and explains my topic well. So, I tell students that we are going to look at my paper and determine if we need to revise anything to make sure my ideas are strong and supported. I tell students that good writers use questions to help them revise. I tell students that asking yourself these questions while revising helps you see where your writing needs a little work. So I use our Non-Fiction Text Structure anchor chart from a previous lesson in this unit. I’ve also created a list of questions for us to use in our revision and post them in the classroom for students to use. During this time I ask the questions aloud and model for students how to look for evidence that my writing gives me an answer of yes to the questions. I first look at my introduction to see if it is interesting and I think aloud a way to revise it and make it better. I show students how to mark through the sentence and re-write it. I continue asking the questions as I move through my writing thinking aloud changes I am making along the way.
So now, I give students another short writing to practice revising. I ask students to work together in small groups of 5 to revise the writing. Students are given the same questions but they are placed in a box for students to draw a question to answer. I felt this would engage students more because they don’t know what question they will get and it forces everyone to take an active role in the activity. Students work on making revisions together. In my classroom, students used an electronic version and a desk top because my classroom allows for each work station to have a desk top. Students work to highlight changes and later share their revisions with the class.
Now students are ready to take a test run of revising their own paper. Students use a handout with the questions that leaves space for students to write in any changes they made to their paper based on that question. Students work at looking at each section of their writing, introduction, body, and closing and make revisions for ideas. I circulate the room and conference with a few students to scaffold where needed.
Now we come back together as a group and discuss how we feel the revision has changed our papers. A few students share and I take the changes students made as an assessment of the revisions they made.