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.


  1. I liked this post and chose to include it in this week's EduCarnival. If you would like to have it removed, please email me at uncomfortableadventures (at) yahoo (dot) com to let me know, and I will delete the link.

    You can submit an article to the next issue of EduCarnival v2 by using the handy-dandy carnival submission form. Past carnivals and future scheduled editions can be found on the blog carnival index page.

    I love getting to read posts from people I'm not familiar with, so it'd be awesome if you'd put up a quick note encouraging your readers to submit as well!

  2. I'm here from Clix's Carnival!!

    I don't know if it'll work in the younger grades, but I found that reverse outlining is a GREAT way to check for structure (and lack of evidence and/or support) in papers that my juniors and seniors in high school, and my freshmen in college, write. The idea is that outlining isn't JUST for pre-writing; it can be used to check what they've already written, too. hey take a paper (either their own or someone else's) and turn it into an outline. If they can't do it - if the paper doesn't shake out into at least SOMETHING close to recognizable as an outline, it's lacking in structure, evidence, support, or all three.

    Maybe, if you give the kiddos a graphic organizer to fill out, they'd be able to try reverse-outlining, too?