Time and time again, teachers tell me their students resist revision. Of course they do. Deep down all of us wish words flowed magically from our fingertips with no further work required. Unfortunately, it rarely works that way.
Here’s what revision is not:
Copying over a draft by hand. If you ask your students to copy over their drafts, you are teaching them one simple thing: write short. You, too, would resist making additions if you knew you had to write each and every word (in your best penmanship) over again.
Here’s what revision is:
An opportunity for celebration. And there are so many ways to do this. They are:
I write with students and show them the changes I make on a regular basis. I talk to them, not simply as their teacher, but as a writing colleague. I share moments when I have struggled with revision – and let them know it was well worth it. One of the greatest forms of praise I offer students: “Ooooh. I wish I had written that!”
When I see some real attention paid to revision, I ask the student to co-teach the writing minilesson with me the following day. Together we show classmates how the work was improved by either adding detail, reorganizing information, removing unneeded text, or rewriting. Sometimes I put the before and after pieces on the overhead. There’s always a lot of high fives for the student who is teaching at my side.
Regularly sharing work with peers motivates us to do our very best work. There is nothing better than having fellow writers laugh at the right moments, hold their collective breath, or shoot their hands into the air to point out what we’ve done well.
“May I publish this piece?” We’ve all had prolific students who want to publish every piece they write. But, I reserve publishing for those pieces that have been carefully revised. This means that not all students publish at the same time. (If so, I would be removing a major motivation. Why work hard when everyone’s going to be published?)
These are just some of the components that help student to want to revise. In later posts, I’ll address specific revision techniques.