Sunday, December 6, 2009
How do we get kids to revise? This is often a matter of great frustration for teachers. Instead of really jumping back into a text, many students just halfheartedly circle a misspelled word here and there.
As I started revising this week, I decided to add some glamor. I handed out "Magic Microphones" to the students. Really just rolled up pieces of paper, these microphones were supposed to make reading their pieces aloud more engaging for students. (Yeah, the special educator who co-teaches with me for the first class thought it was a ludicrous idea as well!) Why? As I've watched my students, I have noticed that they make more changes when they read their text aloud than when they just look at it silently.
After the Magic Microphones, I introduced the Revising Checklist. My revising checklist was very specific, directing students to look for an introduction, a topic sentence for each paragraph, and a conclusion. Then, students had to find one place to ADD a detail and one place to CHANGE something. These very explicit words make the nebulous idea of "revising" more concrete.
Was it perfect revising, all over the room? No, of course not! But I saw progress. I saw lots of Post-Its being passed around. I realized that a small group of students in each class were still not entirely sure of what a topic sentence is. And I noticed many students going back to our example essays--and even Surprising Sharks--to find out what an introduction and conclusion should be like.