Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Delayed Revising

Like many students, fourth graders are reluctant revisers. Part of this is because they are still stuck in the knowledge-telling mode. As knowledge tellers, these young writers look at writing as a translation exercise--they are just recording the thoughts that are in their brains, in the order in which they think them. From their point of view, revising is pretty pointless. They wrote what they know and they know what they wrote. Why should they read it again?

Of course, teachers can think of MANY reasons for students to revise their pieces of writing! But our exhortations to revise, revise, revise often fail to sink in. This year, I've worked on several different strategies to help students revise. I've used checklists, modeled, and made revising glamorous. All of these have been successful, to some degree.

Now I'm trying yet another strategy--delayed revising. I read a short study about this, in which third, fourth, and fifth graders wrote a text and then revised later in the same day or the next day. Not surprisingly, the delayed revision condition led to more revising, especially more meaning-based revising.

I'm trying a two-week span. Students have put aside the rough drafts of their personal narratives, and we'll revise them shortly. I'm hoping that this will make it possible for students to see the difference between what they thought they wrote and what they actually wrote.

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