Skip to main content Skip to main content

Inside Writing Communities, Grades 3-5

Program 13: Learning To Revise

For elementary-age children, revision is often new and challenging. This program shows how teachers overcome students' resistance to changing their writing by providing concrete and effective revision strategies.

View Transcript


Watch the 30-minute video “Learning To Revise.” If you prefer to watch the video in segments, you can stop at the times suggested below or use the Video Guide (PDF) — a detailed outline of the video — to determine places to stop for discussion.

Answer the questions that follow each segment, jotting down your answers in your notebook or using them as discussion starters.

Experimenting With Revision

In the first segment, Jack Wilde discusses the role of revision in the elementary classroom, and Sheryl Block teaches her fourth-graders how to add more action to their personal narratives. (Stop after Sheryl’s student shares his revised lead with the class. You will find this image at the end of the segment, approximately 17 minutes into the video.)

  • In what ways do Sheryl’s students exhibit a sense of experimentation with revision work? What evidence do you see that they might be willing to take risks?
  • How does Sheryl’s teaching encourage experimentation with revision? Specifically, what do you observe in her lesson, instructions to students, classroom arrangement, conferences, etc. that supports experimentation?
  • What are some of the overall benefits of teaching revision techniques to young writers, apart from the immediate goal of improving a specific piece of writing?
  • Based on what you saw in this video segment, what are some ways you might encourage more risk taking and experimentation with revision in your classroom?

Sheryl Block: Lesson Background (PDF)

Modeling a Revision Strategy

In the second segment, Silvia Edgerton uses passages from Charlotte’s Web to help her fifth-graders learn how to use the technique of zooming in to revise their writing. (Stop after Silvia asks the students to sketch the scene from Charlotte’s Web. You will find this image at the end of the segment, approximately 21 minutes into the video.)

  • How does sketching the scene from Charlotte’s Web help Silvia’s students understand the writing strategy E. B. White uses? What do her students learn by looking at and discussing other students’ sketches?
  • What is the connection between Silvia’s sketching strategy and the students’ independent revision work? How could the students use drawings based on their own drafts to help them revise? How would you help students make this transition?
  • Think of one or more other specific writing strategies that could be taught at least partially through sketching. In your experience, what are the advantages of connecting writing and visual art in the elementary classroom?

Rehearsing a Revision Strategy

In the final segment, Silvia reads a personal narrative by a former student and has the class analyze this writer’s choices. Then she asks her students to find an entry in their writer’s notebooks where they can try the “zoom in” technique. (Play to the end of the program.)

  • Silvia’s students discuss how the student writer might have revised her narrative using the “zoom in” strategy. How does rehearsing revision in this way help the students?
  • What value do you see in having the students practice the new strategy with a writer’s notebook entry rather than with a draft?
  • Based on what you saw in the video, what strategies could you adopt in your teaching?

Silvia Edgerton: Lesson Background (PDF)