Rethinking Revision

This week, we have been doing some big revision to our bedtime routines. My older daughters seem to be revising their usual 6am wakeup to match my 5am alarm. Maybe they sensed the buzz coming from the downstairs as my husband and I tip toe around, making sure everyone has what they will need for the day and get ready for our own days. Despite our reasonable explanations that it is still VERY dark outside and that they will be VERY tired later in the day, they wake up chipper and ready to party.

The girls’ revisions have had me making several revisions of my own…to bedtime. As I pick everyone up from their day, either at school or daycare at my mom’s house, the meltdowns start the minute I open the door. The warm hugs and “I missed you Mommy,” were just a dream. Reality is, we are all exhausted and we have a lot to fit in to start the cycle over again the next day. So right now we are testing out big revisions- earlier bedtimes, compact routines, and adjusted napping schedules.

This big revision work is also something I hope to explore with teachers in writing workshop this year. On Friday, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop at Teachers College. The focus was two fifth grade units of study, Journalism and Tackling the Complexity of Nonfiction Reading. As Meghan Hargrave unpacked some revisions the project has made to the fifth grade journalism unit, she talked a lot about the writing process. She explained that many of the changes came so that kids have opportunities to practice mega revision throughout-meaning more than adding a word with a caret here and there.

I first began thinking about this concept last year during the Teachers College Coaching Institute. I was fortunate enough to spend a week with Kathleen Tolan at PS 158 last October. During that time, we sat in on a meeting where teachers who had previously participated in a learning walk, debriefed and determined focuses for professional learning for the year. One of their focuses was on working towards this idea of big revision.

This week, as I transitioned back to the school scene after five months of maternity leave,  I took time to visit classrooms and just observe the work that has already started. Many grade levels are just finishing up their first units of study. As I visited a few first grade classrooms, I pulled up alongside students and listened as they shared their small moment stories. One little guy was writing about his visit to his dad’s office. The highlight seemed to be getting to play on dad’s spinning chair. When I asked the student, “What did you do on that chair? Can you show me…like act it out?” He looked at me like I was crazy before getting up and spinning around and pretending to wheel his imaginary chair madly around his writing area. “Wow!” I said. “That really gave me a picture in my mind. What actions could you add to that part of your story so that your reader can see that too?” We brainstormed together and as I got ready to move onto another student, I said, “So now you’re ready to add even more details to your story.”

His side eye returned. “No. I’m already done.”

Friday’s session at TC has me reflecting on many similar conversations with students I conferred with last week, kids who were perfectly content with their stories just the way they were. I’m eager to share this idea of big revision with the teachers at my school and begin to brainstorm together, how to make revision something kids are more open to and a process that will also bring them joy.

I’m also hoping that the revisions we make to our bedtime routines at home will bring us more joy as we adjust to our new routines.



10 thoughts on “Rethinking Revision

  1. Can see you asking the young writer to act out the chair spinning! So important, as you know, to bring small moments to life! Reseeing, revision, is hard, thoughtful
    work. I can’t wait to see what you have to share and explore revision with all the writers! Possibilities and discovery await-at school and home!


  2. “I’m already done” is a common phrase I hear, too.
    Revision is such a difficult topic, requiring critical thinking and being able to read your own writing on a slant, to see what isn’t there or what no longer needs to be there.


  3. You certainly are at a stage of major revision in your own life – back to work, three young children, etc. You are living proof that it can be hard, but so very worthwhile. I too need to find ways to push children past the “I’m done” and toward meaningful revision in their writing.


  4. Good luck as you work to changing the mindset of “done” to one that is aware that we are never done…we are all just beginning the next chapter called revision! Your school is lucky to have your support.


  5. Great post. It’s funny watching Last revisions from my phone as I’m out of school this week. Some major, most minor, others just edits. I need to make it more of an ongoing process. Katie Clements suggested showing a calendar with revision days marked to show the ongoing nature. Speaking of revisions, ever think of revising the blog title? I think Where There’s Joy describes your blog better. Where’s the Joy sounds like what we say when we don’t see it? You always seem to find it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is a really thoughtful comment. I appreciate your feedback on my blog title. I like your suggestion a lot. I came up with the title really quickly when I joined the March SOL challenge the night before it started. I’ll look into that. I hope you’re having a great time at TC. Denia emailed and said her head is spinning- but in a good way. I can’t wait to learn from both of you when you get back.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. There’s so much to unpack in this post.

    How lucky you were to spend time learning from Kathleen Tolan before her passing!
    TC with Meghan — fabulous! I studied with her during the 2015 Summer Writing Institute. She’s as brilliant as she is lovely.
    5 a.m.!?!?!? OMG! I can’t even imagine doing that time WITH the kids.

    Liked by 1 person

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