Improving our writing: Shaking up the norm with collaborative revision

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SWBAT develop and strengthen writing through revising, editing and rewriting by engaging in a collaborative revision process and rewriting based on peers' suggestions.

Big Idea

Students typically don't take time to revise. How can we help them see the importance of revision?

Mini Lesson-Everyone in the classroom is a writer, including the teacher!

10 minutes

In yesterday's lesson, students wrote the rough draft of their own "Where I'm From" poem.  Today, we are going to work on revising and improving our poems.  I will project my rough draft on the Smart Board and explain to students that I need help revising my poem. I will explain that revision isn't always the same. Poems need to be revised with different criteria than a newspaper article and we need to chose criteria that is appropriate to a poem (W.9-10.5). I will ask the students,

Let's make a list of some criteria a poet might want help with for revision.

After we compile a list, I will make sure that students have listed criteria involving specific, concrete words (W.9-10.3d).  They might need some prompting for this.  I want to focus on the concrete, sensory words with this assignment because I want students to see the difference between revising a poem and an essay.  Plus, many of my students write very flowery with lots of abstract vocabulary.  

I will project my poem and explain to students how I would offer revision suggestions to the first few lines (will be more specific when I finish it tomorrow afternoon). Making my writing vulnerable to students criticism allows them to be more open with their own writing.  



Student Work Time-Collaborative Revision

15 minutes

For this collaborative revision, I've put the desks in a square and put post it notes in the middle of each table.  I will set the timer to two minutes. Each student will pass their paper to the left.  That student has 2:00 to read and respond thoughtfully to their peer's paper focusing on strong, concrete, sensory language (w.9-10.3d).  I will point students to the how-to revise list we made on the board.  

When the two minutes expires, students will pass their paper to the left and we will start the 2:00 again.  I will participate and pass my paper as well.  It's important that students see me as a vulnerable writer willing to accept criticism. We will continue to pass and provide feedback for fifteen minutes.  This collaborative structure makes everyone in the classroom a part of the writing process (Sl.9-10.1).

Student Work Time-Take the words of wisdom and apply those to your writing

15 minutes

Students hand their paper back to it's author.  I give the students a couple of minutes to read the feedback from their peers.  I ask,

Who received a piece of great feedback they would like to share.  

I ask this question because I want all students to know that it is okay to accept suggestions and help from their peer.  It also validates the revision process for both the writer and the students offering suggestions. 

After we have discussed the process a little bit, I will give students the rest of the time to revise their original poem focusing on the list of what we decided was most significant (W.9-10.5).  It's important for me to give time for revision in the classroom because it is such an important skill.  While it is true that the majority of my students won't be writing and revising poetry as an adult, they will need to know how to revise other writing that they do on a consistent basis.  If I send revision home as homework, the poem gets shoved in the backpack until Sunday night and they have forgotten what they wanted/needed to change or improve.  This student example shows a student's initial poem and the revision she did. 

As students are revising, I will walk around and conference with students who are having a difficult time.  

Closure--Expectations for the final draft

5 minutes

During the last few minutes, I will tell students that their homework is to finish the final copy of their poem for the next class period.  

When students turn in their poem, I will ask them to write a brief, Letter to my reader..  In this letter, I'll ask students to explain to me what they revised and why and what part of their poem they are most proud of. This small strategy helps students be reflective about their writing.