Workshop 8: Teaching the Power of Revision
Key Practices To Observe in Workshop 8
This workshop demonstrates a variety of teaching practices that help
students develop skills in revising their writing.
- Teachers affirm the importance of helping students with revision. The
teachers' goal, though, is not just to help students develop a particular
piece of writing but to help students acquire skills and strategies that
will enable them to grow as writers.
- Creating a positive environment, a community of writers, is important
in promoting revision. This includes an atmosphere of trust and respect,
support and encouragement from the teacher and classmates, regular
experience in helping
others and being helped, comfortable surroundings, arrangement of furniture
to facilitate discussion, and an opportunity to write and share writing
without fear of undue criticism.
- Because students write about matters that are important to them and
draw on their own experiences, they are encouraged to revise and to
- Teachers demonstrate that they expect students to revise ("to
get them in the revision door"). They organize specific lessons
and tasks to help students learn to revise and to recognize the power
of revision. Revision is a routine part of the writing workshop.
- Since revision often is difficult, teachers provide an opportunity for
students to demonstrate (especially to peers) the benefits of revision.
They also arrange for peers to help each other and to express support
and approval of classmates' accomplishments.
- Teachers actively teach strategies for revision through a variety of
practices: reading and talking about examples; modeling revision and having
students model revision; structuring small-group conferences; providing
mini-lessons on specific features of writing and on revision methods;
talking with students one-on-one; raising questions to help students see
options for revision and to help them think critically; displaying writing
on the overhead; leading students in tasks that result in a sharing of
before-and-after writing; helping students create and use revision forms
and checklists for revision; and arranging for students to read their
work aloud and to talk about revision with peers.
- Lessons aimed at helping students revise are focused, and teachers
are careful to be clear and specific in guiding students through revision
tasks. Lessons often include samples of writing, which are displayed
or provided in copies, open discussion of techniques, references to
practice in revision strategies, sharing, implementation of the lesson
in the students' own writing, and more sharing. Students often include
examples of revisions and the results of revision tasks and exercises
in their writer's notebooks.
- Teachers do not merely promote revision; they lead students to understand
reasons for revision—why a revision is useful, how a revised piece of
writing can ultimately influence readers.
- Teachers draw on practices they have observed or have read about in
professional literature, and they adjust the techniques to their own
For example, one teacher uses Barry Lane's "exploding the
moment" strategy with her seventh-graders.
- Teacher-student conferences are a major means of helping students revise
their work and develop as writers. In these conferences, teachers are
careful to promote student ownership and to guide students in making their