I'll admit it, I don't emphasize the importance of revision enough with my students. Most of my lessons are on generating ideas and introducing new craft techniques. When it comes time to revise, sure I give them some time, but I don't give them new tools on how to do it. Instead, I expect them to know how, or I allow them to have their partners revise their piece for them. Not only are the not learning the way in which writers revise, some of them think revision requires another person to look at their piece and tell them what to do next. That's why one of my New Year's Resolutions is to make 2013 The Year of Revision.
At its etymological core, "revision" means "the act of seeing something again." When we do, we often see things in a new light. It's like when we notice new details in a work of art or a background rift in a piece of music when we listen to it over and over. Writers know this about revision, and they trust in its process to make their work shine brighter. In fact, they spend the bulk of their time revising. Remember two years ago when Linda Sue Park told us she revised When My Name Was Keoko 37 times?
Recently, some of us in Grade 6 took one of Gallagher's practical ideas for teaching revision and ran with it. By using a radar as a metaphor (and mnemonic device), we taught one revision strategy. Like a radar that identifies "blips on the screen," a writer identifies words, phrases, sentences, or even whole paragraphs that need attention when revising. Once she does, she can use the RADaR to improve it by:
An additional key in teaching revision goes beyond just teaching the strategy though. As Gallagher highlights, teachers need to think aloud during the revision process by taking a piece of their own writing and revising it in real time. That way, students can see the possibilities as well as the challenges.
So, as we begin the new year, I hope you stand with me in making 2013 The Year of Revision. I hope that my revisions on the Kadir Nelson bio pay off and that you enjoy reading them in the Children's Literature Conference program in two weeks' time. And I hope that you got something out of this post (even though I only gave it five revisions).