Let It Go

Thursday, May 29, 2014
wishing my life was a musical, Suzanne

It's okay if you need to take a moment to belt the song.  Shameful secret: I haven't seen Frozen, which is surprising because it is right up my ally.  But I sure do know its signature song.  

Have you ever had students draft a paper only to realize when you ask them to go back and revise that they must have chiseled their writing into stone tablets?!  Seriously, I don't know what it is, but my student throw on the brakes when I ask them to go back and make changes. They act as if everything is perfect, couldn't be better- which I assure your is not the case. (This is where you comment and say that it's not just me so that I feel better.)  So let's take a look at classroom activities that can help students let it go when it comes to revising their drafts.

Mark it up:
We have to shift students' mindsets about revision.  Value and praise a "messy" draft.  An AVID revision strategy asks students to highlight sentences in their old draft that students made significant changes to.  Those are sentences that are dramatically different from those in the new draft.  Still in their old draft, have them underline sentences that they eliminated in their new draft.

In the new draft, have students underline sentences that are brand new- the ones that don't appear at all in the old draft.

Consider mini-lessons that you have taught in the writing process. Create an inventory of devices you expect students to use.  Students will then copy their sentence that uses that technique into the box.  Sometimes looking at the sentence in isolation helps them see that their sentence is not, in fact, personification (or whatever it's masquerading to be).  If they don't have the device at all, they take this opportunity to use it and decide where it would best fit in their paper.

And if all else fails, take it away from them.  No, seriously.  Peer response is a mutually beneficial relationship.  However, without the appropriate prep work and stated expectations, it can quickly turn into a waste of time.  

Peer response:
Teach students to use "I" statements and ask honest questions when providing feedback.  Also, have students write their feedback down.  This holds students accountable for what they say because it's something you'll see and makes constructive criticism not personal.  

Helpful "I" Statements:

  • "I wanted to hear more about..."
  • "I didn't understand why...happened."
  • "I was engaged/confused when..."
Helpful Questions:
  • "How does this example relate to your thesis?"
  • "When did your brother return?  I missed that part."
Another peer response strategy that can be used for revision or editing is Clocking.  Click here to read more about this strategy and find useful resources.

Check back Tuesday for more Birthday Party excitement, and click here to claim your seat if you haven't already!


  1. First of all, any Frozen reference automatically makes this an awesome post. Second of all, you need to GET ON THAT (watching Frozen, I mean). Thirdly, I had to share the "they must have chiseled their writing into stone tablets" comment with my TA, because that's exactly how my students act!

    1. It's funny because it's TRUE! I can celebrate the start of summer with Frozen.