Revising and Editing Strategies
After teaching students how to hook the reader with masterful leads, I felt good about myself. I boasted my greatness in the teachers' lounge and taunted colleagues on my way to the restroom. Then I read the body of my students' essays. In shock, I ran back to the teachers' lounge and rescinded every boastful utterance, apologized to all the teachers I had taunted, and cancelled my weekend golf trip to South Carolina.
It was time to go back to basics. Instruct students to answer the following questions as a warm up activity:. Discuss their answers and write them on the board. Trick them into discussing the following:. Instruct students to write their audience and their purpose for writing at the top of their paper to keep them focused.
Instruct students that when revising a rough draft or writing a first draft, look for ways to make it more focused on the audience and content.
Instruct students to copy these questions and have them visible while writing or revising:. TIP : Instruct students to write rough drafts on one side of the paper only, double-spaced.
Three Essential Editing and Revision Mini-lessons for Argumentative Writing
Keep tasks clear and easy to understand so students can sit down at a station and begin their work independently. With revision stations, small checklists work well. Give students a specific task.
Make sure that the tasks you are giving students to complete at each station are rich enough to lead to meaningful learning, but can be finished within a small window of time. Most of my stations activities are no longer than minutes per station.
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With revision stations, it's a good idea to create enough task cards so students can take the cards with them and finish the revisions at home if necessary. Revision stations provide the perfect opportunity for students to peer conference and conference with teachers. For younger students, I recommend modeling a successful peer conference, showing students how to present their own writing to a peer and demonstrating how to be an active listener, taking notes and providing meaningful feedback. Provide task cards or peer conferencing forms for students to complete as they conference. These will help peers to focus on the necessary tasks in a small window of time.
Also provide students with a rubric and encourage them to use language from the rubric when delivering feedback. Students can even grade one another and make revisions based on peer assessments. For the teacher conference, short forms are also useful. An essential question for students to come to a teacher conference with is what do you want help with? This will allow you to focus on one or two specific skills in each conference. It is difficult to read an entire writing piece in a timed conference during station work.
Using stations to facilitate revisions allows students to do the work of learning, working through their writing by analyzing their work from multiple angles. Stations are engaging and lead to meaningful learning.
Stations also have the added benefit of giving teachers and students the time to conference writing in class before the writing is formally turned in. And they revise again. Then they revise yet again.
Rethinking Revision: The Real Work of Writing
So, given that professional writers revise, it would be wise for beginning and intermediate writers to revise, too. One Professor, when asked how students could improve their writing, said these three words: "Revise, revise, revise. Revision means, literally, to see again. There are several stages to revision. The first thing to consider is the goal of revision: Writing to communicate.
In order to communicate well, here are some guidelines to consider while you revise:. Revision gives new life to your writing.
The first stage involves going through the draft and reorganizing main ideas and supporting ideas so that they are grouped in a way that is understandable to your reader. Your organization will usually first put forward stronger points in an argument , earlier information for a narrative , or background in many cases. However you organize, your readers need to understand what you are trying to communicate. After that, refine your arguments and evidence, your descriptions, and all of the details, so that they give a sense of the writing being of one piece, or a whole.
Let one description arise from another, or one piece of evidence support the next. Put all of the pieces in that are needed, and remove those that are not. Even the most experienced writers make inadvertent errors while revising--removing a word or adding a phrase that changes the grammar, for instance. Here are some tips to help focus your revision:. Good editing or proofreading skills are just as important to the success of an essay, paper or thesis as good writing skills.