I currently teach 7th grade Language Arts at Hill Country Middle School, proudly, my alma mater.
My students are energetic, eager pleasers that want to do well and are proud of their accomplishements. They are also students that are spread thin by outside commitments and busy lifestyles. I feel that this fact about their lives hinders their ability to slow down and reflect which impacts their writing.
This epiphany led me to my research question:
If given choices in the way they revise and ample opportunities to practice these revisions, would my students be more willing to slow down and revise their own writing - inside and outside of my classroom?
In my classroom, I like to promote writing as a means of communication and expression. I encourage my students to use writing as way to reflect, react, disagree, support, and even branch out to the world unknown.
When running Writer's Workshop in my classroom, I use a combination of Capital City Writes and Jeff Anderson's Revision Decisions.
I chose this inquiry because I truly believe that my students want to be better writers and they are willing to put themselves out there. In order for this to happen, they themselves need to find the value and usefulness of revising.
Jeff Anderson explains that, "Students engage when they can easily see the need for a skill and understand how it fits into the larger picture of writing and communication" (Anderson and Dean 42).
Research, Practice, Poll, Repeat
- After several months of observations and two major writing pieces, my PLC discovered four main areas of focus: tone, transitions, sentences structure, and appropriate and powerful examples.
- I then researched and created activities that focused on those 4 areas. It was important to me that the students had ample time and opportunity to try out the activity.
- After a few attempts at the activity, I then asked my students what they thought of it and how it helped their writing.
- I then created different activities that focused on the same areas of need and the cycle continued multiple times.
My Researched Literature
COLLABORATIVE WRITING IS IMPORTANT!
"Allow students to work together to plan, write, edit, and revise their writing. We recommend that teachers provide a structure for cooperative writing and explicit expectations for individual performances within their cooperative groups or partners" (Gillespie and Graham 2).
"Writers hear the application of target skills and the associated compliments. This increases their awareness and understanding of the skills and promotes the use of them in their own writing" (Freeman 80).
MODELS ARE THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING!
"Provide students with good models of the type of writing they are expected to produce. Teachers should analyze the models with their class, encouraging students to imitate in their own writing the critical and effective elements shown in the models" (Gillespie and Graham 2).
TEXT EXAMPLES HELP STUDENTS SEE CLEARER!
"During revision time, I like to use anonymous student papers from other class periods (or past years) on the document camera with the whole class - one that as similar clunkiness or vague generalities I see in current papers of students (i.e. repetition, lack of descriptive or supportive sentences, or lacking any complex sentence structures)" (Alber 1).
Now, it's your turn!
My findings have shown me that my students are more willing to revise their writing when they...
- ...discover the benefits for themselves. Self confidence for a writer is priceless.
- ...when they are given, not only multiple activities to try out the revision, but multiple times. Repetition is huge.
So when I really listen to what my students need...
At the end of the day, it all boils down to REPETITION.
Yes, it's best to change it up for my students, vary the activities, and give them different techniques to revise, but the biggest impacts on their writing came from carving out time in the lessons to try the revisions and practicing them over and over and over again.
Alber, Rebecca. "4 Strategies for Teaching Students How to Revise." Edutopia (2016).
Anderson, Jeff and Deborah Dean. "Revision Decisions." Portland, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers, 2014.
Freeman, Marcia S. "Building a Writing Community: A Practical Guide." Gainesville, Florida: Maupin House, 1995.
Gillespie, Amy and Steve Graham. "Evidence-based practices for teaching writing." New Horizons for Learning, 2017.
Bomer, Katherine. "Hidden Gems." Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Heinemann, 2010.
Carroll, Joyce Armstrong and Edward E. Wilson. "Acts of Teaching: How to Teach Writing." Englewood, Colorado: Teacher Ideas Press, 1993.
Krupp, Paul and Lori Jamison Rob. "The Write Genre." Markham, Ontario, Canada: Pembroke Publishers, 2004.
Ray, Katie Wood. "Study Driven: A Framework for Planning Units of Study in the Writing Workshop." Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Heinemann, 2006.
Weaver, Constance." Lessons to Share on Teaching Grammar in Context." Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Boynton/Cook Publishers, Inc., 1998.