Have you ever noticed what students do when they finish writing?
Typically, they close their books, or hand in their papers, and announce, “I’m done.” Not only have they not revised their work, often they have not even read it!
Revision is a mindset. I teach students to get their ideas on paper first and then work to revise and improve their writing afterwards.
This mindset is not a one time lesson but an ongoing conversation throughout the year. I begin the conversation by showing them the early drafts of Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White included in the book Some Writer: The Story of E.B. White. We discuss the types of changes White made to his early drafts. Students have the opportunity to observe the revision process of an effective writer.
But that’s only lesson one and not enough to change the behaviour of most student writers. It’s simply the beginning of an eventual change in thinking.
Once, while I was teaching a grade five class about the process (and the power) of revision, a student said to me, “It’s like my Rubik’s Cube. I try something and if it doesn’t work, I try something else.”
Exactly, Lloyd. Exactly.