During Writing Workshop I have been having my students working on writing their memoirs and working on a choice piece (a piece on any topic they choose). In my mini-lessons for the memoirs I have focused on writing effective leads,using senses in writing and revision vs editing.
The thing I love about my students is their hate relationship with proofreading, revising, editing, multiple drafts… anything that that has to do with re-reading and changing what they have written! In the past I have found that when asked to proofread, my students have just read their partner’s paper and changed a few grammar/ spelling issues and said it was good.
I took an idea from a journal that I read about revising work using the Focused Question Card Strategy. It has really worked well for my students. We talked a lot about the difference between revision and editing in the writing process first.
I explained the entire process below(lengthly, I know- it was hard to sum up how it works!!)
I taught them the revision card strategy during their first quick publish piece of the year (click here to read about the quick publish piece). We went step by step through the process and we talked about good questions to ask on the card. After the students turned in their quick publish stories and revision cards (they always turn in all their drafts and revision and editing cards to me) I noticed that the students had asked good questions, but most of their answers were pretty pathetic! For example- does my ending make sense? Should I add more details. The answer: yes!- no other comments. So I need to work on how to answer the revision cards.. but we had a good start with the question part!
Here is the revision card process that I use during writing workshop:
- After the students have written for at least 20 min. for a few days and they have some content, I tell them that they can conference with a peer if they want.
- I let students pick their partners since they will find people they are comfortable with and someone who will give them suggestions and be honest. Remind students that they as the writer is asking for help, so they should accept comments relating to their card.
- Students must conference with at least 2 students for revising conferences and one other student for editing conference.
- When it is time for drafting. The writer needs to take a note card and write one questions or concern that they have that they would like help with. If it is a yes/no question, they need to ask why.
- They write their name on the side of the card
- When they conference- the writer reads his/her piece aloud without the partner looking at the paper.
- The listener only responds to that one question that the writer had. The listener writes the answer on the back of the note card and puts his/her name.
- No editing is done at this conference. This is only time for revising.
Students then write more.
Another Revision conference
- Same as the first, students can pick anyone to work with but it must be with a different conference partner than the first.
- With peers. This time students sit side by side and are looking at one writer’s piece at a time. The writer reads the piece aloud. Make corrections and changes. The writer is the only one who writes on his/ her paper. Then they switch, writer becomes listener etc..
I, the teacher finally looks at the paper:
- The paper has had 3 people look at it before I even see it one time. I have glanced at their work, and helped here and there, but not in-depth.
- The writer then writes on a note card one thing they want help with from me. They attach the note card to their paper.
- At this point, the writer is giving me his/her best draft possible.
- I then looks at the piece, and responds to the student’s question and makes one suggestion.
- The piece is then returned to the student for them to make corrections and changes and turn in for their final piece to be graded.
- I needs to keep in mind that the writer can ignore the suggestions that the I suggested. I need to have the student go back to the rubric and focus on the things that they are being graded on.
- I don’t correct grammar unless it is a habit and is seen consistently from the student. If it is a habit I only comment on one thing at a time- too many and they don’t internalize it.
**The article was from September 2006, in the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, written by Alexa Sandman.