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.
In the previous lesson, students were introduced to the basics of revision. After the introduction, it's important to start revising immediately so students can practice this skill and teachers can see where further assistance, whether it be time or modeling, may be needed.
The lesson begins by reminding students of the different revision strategies we discussed and reviewed yesterday. This helps bring us back together so we know what the focus will be on for the day. We review the Tinkering and Revising handout. This is done briefly since we already discussed it in the previous lesson.
Even though the handout discusses a few different strategies, I encourage students to focus only a few today: create mind pictures, sensory details, precise words & interesting language. This helps them focus so they can really go in-depth with a few strategies at a time instead of just skimming the surface of many different strategies. As we are reviewing the handout, I focus on those first few strategies and explain them in depth so students understand what they mean. They need to understand how to do something before they actually start to do it.
Revision helps the students grow as writers but they need guided practice in order to understand how to implement these strategies and why they are important.
The first step each student is responsible for is making sure they have colored pencils (our classroom has a few boxes handy). I still don't get it but my eighth graders love using colored pencils for anything they do. It surprises me to this day but whatever motivates them to revise, I'll take it. After they have their colored pencils they will spend the rest of class time revising but they will focus on certain aspects. Each colored pencil will be used for a different strategy: create mind pictures, sensory details, precise words and interesting language.
Since it is difficult to focus on four areas at once, I have student read their narratives many different times. Each time they are to focus only one of the strategies. When they find a moment that would benefit from revising, they make notes, additions, etc. I keep my narrative up on the Smartboard so they can see what a work in process looks like. Our motto during this time is the messier the better. I encourage students to include more than less. We can always take away. Here is an example of student work: Narratives With Revisions.
As students are working on this, I go around to as many students as possible and talk to them about the revisions they are working on. It is so important to do this because students need the guidance with revising. It is not a natural skill that teenagers possess and they need practice and help to work on it. Most of my conversations are brief. I want to give time to students to work and not talk to me. However, if a student is struggling I make sure to take the time they need. The goal of these conferences is for each student to leave with a clear picture of revisions they need to make. I show my own work, The Intersection of Lives, so students can see the strategies in context when needed.
Once students use these strategies, they are able to see the benefits.
These videos show students discuss their working: