Revision Across the Grades

Today was one of those days where there were many times where I wished I had my phone with me to snap a picture. I’ve been wondering what impact the pandemic has had on kids and specifically their writing. I have some thoughts. Prior to the pandemic, we were growing in so many ways related to the ways we were teaching writing. As a result, we were seeing some amazing writing happening across our school. We had embraced the writing process and more specifically revision. Today I saw glimmers that some of that greatness has stuck!

Mid morning, I made my way to fifth grade, where we’ve been working on writing powerful narratives. The kids have really embraced the work and more than once, I’ve just paused to watch the writers busy and working happily. Last week, we introduced a writing checklist and empowered kids to use it to really push themselves towards outgrowing themselves. We invited them to use a beautiful and colorful display of revision tools and set them off to work. This was a group of kids that was no stranger to this work. I actually believe we were introduced to revision toolkits when they were second graders. So, I was excited to see them go right over to the tools, knowing just how to use them to make big and small changes to their writing. Their drafts were messy and glorious.

Later, in fourth grade, I watched as a new teacher shared various ways fiction writers might begin their various scenes. She too pulled out a bin of baggies full of revision tools. I watched one particular student perk up when she placed the bin of tools in the center of the rug. As they kids went off to work, I let my eyes follow him as he quickly scooped up a revision bag and headed back to his seat. “What are you up to Walter?” I asked.

“I’m going to try that lead that describes the setting,” he said without looking up, already scribbling his thoughts across a post-it to replace his initial beginning.

Then, finally, I was in kindergarten, prepped and ready to teach their second lesson ever in writing workshop. The lesson was all about how when writers think they’re done, there is always more work to be done. I modeled rereading my pictures and words, thinking about ways I can add more. “A fancy way for adding more is called revision,” I told these eager and excited writers. As I sent them off to write, I told them that maybe they’d try revising today or they might decide to start a brand new piece. To my surprise, every kindergartener headed back to their seats, writing in hand, ready to add more. Fifteen minutes later, not one student had made a trip to the green bin, where I reminded them they could find blank paper. They all worked hard to revise their writing, excited by all the possibilities this new idea of revision had to offer.

Today was one of those days that filled me with hope and joy for what lies ahead.

10 thoughts on “Revision Across the Grades

  1. I love your birds eye view posts! Not many people in a school get to have the view – let along that view over time! It reminds me how important it is to remember what happened before to remember the history so as to provide space and opportunity for kids to remember and use what they’ve been taught! So glad to have you back, coach!!

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  2. Love the description of drafts as “messy and glorious” and this vertical focus on revision. This is the part of the process where kids (all writers) realize true power. The excitement to me is palpable!

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