Sponsored by donations from our grateful users-- Click here to become a WritingFix Supporter

The Web WritingFix    

home | email the webmaster   

Free Monthly Lessons:
We still proudly offer a monthly lesson for all teachers who sign-up for our "Lesson of the Month" Ning.

Click here to visit the Ning and check things out!

Click here to join the Ning and receive a free monthly writing lesson.

Stay in Touch!
On occasion, I do revise or update a lesson here at WritingFix. I also add new student samples to many posted lessons. Here are ways to receive updates and keep in touch:




We celebrate teachers who have created their own websites about teaching writing:

Always Write
(Grades K-12)

Start to Learn

(Primary Grades)

Making Mathematicians

(Grades K-12)

Learning is Messy

(Grades 4-6)

Write in the Middle

(Grades 6-8)

WritingFix: Our Revision Teacher Workshop
sharing resources from an NNWP in-service class for educators

"This class showed me that I expect my students to revise their writing but that I really don't take enough time to teach them to revise. I'm guilty of giving my students 'gimmicks' for revision but not true skills. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this class!" (Elaine F., elementary teacher)

"I finally understand the power of revision. I had no idea how much it could build critical thinking skills. Thanks for this workshop." (Sara P., high school teacher)

Why a workshop on revision? In October of 2009, working collaboratively with Nevada's Northwest Professional Development Program, the Northern Nevada Writing Project began designing a new 16-hour workshop for teachers. The new class was actually inspired by the following quote found on an anonymous course evaluation from an earlier class we'd offered on Writer's Workshop:

"I try to teach revision but I always seem to run out of time. It takes my students so long just to write rough drafts that I can't help but move straight to editing. Help me find ways to make more time for revision."

We were inspired from this quote to strategically think about how many teachers--us included--intend to teach revision but, because of time constraints or because of a common confusion about the difference between revising and editing, we often gloss over revision, or we put it on a back burner, hoping we'll magically find some time to bring it back to our busy classroom schedules. As a planning group, we sat together and brainstormed two questions: "What would a mentor text lesson look like whose paramount goal was to teach revision skills? How would that lesson need to be differently structured so that, instead of hoping to find the time to add revision, the lesson was centered on the revision act above everything else?"

Let's all just admit this to ourselves. The writing lessons that we create almost always take longer than we had planned. When writing lessons "run long," two important steps of the writing process are often "skimmed over" in order to get the teaching back on schedule: student talk and revision. In Nevada, we believe these two elements of a writing lesson are critical in helping students discover the skills used by good writers, and our new workshop was designed to dialogue about attempting to always find time for both talk and revision on lessons where we are explicitly teaching the steps of the writing process. When students talk about what they're writing throughout the writing process, and especially when they do this during the revision step, they begin to own writing skills. When students only write rough drafts and immediately move to the editing stage, the chance of them learning about writing craft is lessened.

During our workshop, teachers participate in demonstration lesson presented by Northern Nevada Writing Project Consultants who have designed innovative ways to make sure that authentic revision happens in their classrooms. What do we mean by authentic? Let's be honest. Many of the tasks we ask our students to apply to their writing when rushing through the revision stage don't improve the writing. Our students figure this out early on, and many dislike the latter steps of the writing process because of it. How many students have been "turned off" of the act of writing by being forced to copy their draft one more time while adding a few adjectives in front of a few under-described nouns? How many students' writing assignments sounded less like the student after we required them to add color words or poorly thought-out similes as a revision strategy? If we change the story's introduction to a question make it a sound effect, have we really made the writing better?

For revision to be authentic, students must first believe that their writing can be improved, and second, they must have a variety of tools to choose from when revising. Most importantly, students must also want to improve the writing, which means they have to care about what they're writing; book reports, constructed responses, hamburger paragraphs, and formulaic essays often create competent writing but not writing our students care very much about. Our 16-hour teacher workshop on revision explores assignments that not only help students care about the words they put down on paper but also enjoy the act of re-envisioning ideas to take a different form.

Teaching Craft Skills: Analytical Revision Lessons Shared with our Workshop's Participants

With the following seven lessons that we constructed specifically for our workshop, sometime after the rough draft is written, that's when the mentor text is first introduced to the writers. That proved to be a really new order-of-things for most of our participants; most of them were used to sharing the mentor text as part of the pre-writing process.

Look for the following three commonalities in these lessons: 1) students write their drafts long before reading/hearing from the mentor text; note that what the student has written as a draft is similar in topic or content to what they will read in the mentor text, although they don't need to know that while the compose their first copy of the writing; 2) students purposefully analyze the mentor text's crafted writing skills and compare them to the skills they see in their own rough drafts; and 3) a teacher model is shown to the students at each step of the writing process.

Model Mentor Text-inspired Lessons from our Revision Workshops:

Mentor Text:
Marshfield Dreams

by Ralph Fletcher

Lesson #1:
Bizarre Foods with
Ralph Fletcher!

Revision Traits:
Word Choice & Voice

Lesson #2:
Exploring a More Specific Story

Revision Traits:
Idea Development & Voice

Mentor Text:
Owl Moon

by Jane Yolen

Analyze First Words & Sentence Lengths

Revision Trait:
Sentence Fluency

Mentor Text:
The Leaving Morning

by Angela Johnson

Starting & Stopping with Strong Imagery

Revision Traits:
Organization & Ideas

Mentor Text:
Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street
by Roni Schotter

Mentor Text:
All the Places to Love

by Patricia MacLachlan

Intro Prepositions
& Series of Three

Revision Trait:
Sentence Fluency & Ideas

Mentor Text:
Bronx Masquerade

by Nikki Grimes

Reshaping Narratives through Theme

Revision Traits:
Voice and Ideas


Back to the top of the page

This Page's Contents:

Lessons & tools demonstrated during our revision workshop
Revision strategies from the NNWP's E.W.G. and S.W.G.
Inspired by Barry Lane's Reviser's Toolbox
Artifacts from our workshop's participants
Share a revision tool or lesson with us! You could win a copy of the NNWP's Compare & Contrast Guide!

Want notification when this page is updated?
Join our...

...interest group at our Writing Lesson of the Month Ning!

A Quotable Mentor Text:

from the last page of
Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street
by Roni Schotter:

"What a story!" Sondra exclaimed.

Eva smiled mysteriously. "Thanks," she said proudly. "But just wait. It'll be even better...after I rewrite it."

Four Tools for Teaching Revision Vocabulary:

Revision Resources from the Elementary Writing Guide and the Secondary Writing Guide

Hello, my name is Dena Harrison, and the act of revision is something I have worked hard to help my middle school see as an authentic task.

Teaching revision is tough for many of the teachers I've worked with during NNWP inservice classes. Some are just not sure what the difference is between revising and editing. Others assign revision without actually teaching students how to do it effectively. We hope the tools on this page will inspire the way you present revision in your classroom.

First, a book I simply cannot live without is Barry Lane’s Reviser's Toolbox. Barry (who is in the picture with me at right) has such a great collection of lessons and techniques in his book that students really respond well to. He injects a bit of humor into almost every lesson and once his techniques have been taught, they very easily become a part of the classroom language about writing. Barry says, “Revision is an ongoing creative process, not simply making a sloppy copy picture perfect.” I love teaching my students about “Snapshots” and “Thoughtshots.” Make sure you pick this book up and learn from one of the best!

Recently, I was privileged to be one of the teachers asked to review a new series of books by Vicki Spandel. This series of books is entitled Creating 6-Trait Revisers and Editors. They are published for grades 2 through 8. This series contains very informative and helpful lessons for students to revise and edit using the six writing traits. Vicki says, “The six traits make it possible for us to actually teach revision,” and I wholeheartedly agree. (You may have already noticed that I am also the Six Traits Page Host here at WritingFix). I think Vicki has come up with a brilliant way to teach revision using the traits as part of the classroom language about writing.

If you can't afford buying new books right now, then you're in luck; I have been given permission to publish some of the Northern Nevada Writing Project's copyrighted materials here. Below you will find eight resources that I scanned from two of the NNWP's out-of-print resource guides. I posted them here because I think they have great information to get teachers started. As a middle school teacher, I look through a lot of elementary curriculum materials and an equal amount of high school curriculum materials. I love to adapt ideas from these sources so they fit my classroom and my students' needs. Four of the resources below come from the NNWP's Elementary Writing Guide, and four come from the NNWP's Secondary Writing Guide. How might you adapt these great ideas to fit your classroom?

Four Revision Resources from the EWG:

  • Revising Together! Here are instructions for teaching whole-class revision, and a whole-class sample to show your students.
  • Revising for Stronger Introductions (Organization)! Here are simple instructions for teaching students to seek out different techniques for beginning a piece of writing, then to use a favorite technique in their own writing.
  • Revising for Word Choice! Here are simple instructions and a student example for showing how a writer can think differently about verbs by underlining them as a revision strategy.
  • Revising again for a Different Audience (Voice)! Here is a fun friendly-letter review activity that shows how ideas and language sometimes need to change when a different audience is addressed.

Four Revision Resources from the SWG:

  • The Revision Sprint. A great activity and write-up that has students compare their own use of writing skills as they prepare to revise a rough draft.
  • Revision Checklists. If traits is the language of your classroom, these four checklists will help your students begin to find multiple ideas for improving their rough drafts. Students can apply the checklists to their own writing, or they can have a partner read their papers and fill out the checklist for them.
  • Revision Coversheets. Here are two different versions of a trait-based coversheet that can be marked after reading over a student's second draft.
  • Revision Dice! Here is a fun way to engage students as they come up with revision strategies for their rough drafts. Fold the templates into dice, and let your students roll all four. Whatever four suggestions come up they need to try adding to their rough drafts.

Back to the top of the page

Inspired by Barry Lane and his Thoughtful Books & Strategies

Author Barry Lane has been a good friend to Northern Nevada over the years. He regularly schedules his conferences in Reno and Sparks to promote his newest products and ideas, and we always provide him with a big audience of teachers and administrators. He's been a guest speaker at NNWP inservices and special events that happen to coincide with his in-town appearances. While visiting Northern Nevada, he has visited many classrooms to inspire students and their teachers.

In 1999, Barry presented to a huge crowd of Nevada teachers at the University of Nevada-Reno. For an entire day, we worked with Barry on the most popular techniques from his book, Reviser's Toolbox. As teachers, we wrote snapshots, thoughtshots, and slow-motion moments. We zoomed in with our writing binoculars and dug for potatoes in our rough drafts. If any of these terms are unfamiliar to you, it is because you have not read Barry's Reviser's Toolbox or his After THE END: Teaching and Learning Creative Revision.

During years that we have grant money, we are able to distribute one or both of these books by Barry to our participants so that they can learn to thoughtshot and dig for potatoes too. When we give those books out at inservice classes, we require our participants to propose new mentor text-inspired revision lessons that incorporate one or more of Barry's unique revision techniques. For our 2010 workshop, we did have money to give all members of the class, and we have 20 more copies of Reviser's Toolbox to distribute for our 2011 Revision Workshop. Below you will find work done by our class participants during our 2010 session. We plan to post much more after the 2011 run of our revision workshop. Check back with us soon.

Teacher-Suggested Revision Lessons
inspired by mentor texts and Barry Lane revision techniques
Technique #1: using your Writer's Binoculars

Some Sorcerer's Binocular Revision

Mentor Text: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling

Lesson author: Nancy Thomas, middle school teacher

Mentor Text: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Lesson author: Kim Price, elementary teacher

Mentor Text: Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

Lesson author: Lyn Hawkins, elementary teacher

Familiar with Barry's binoculars technique for revision?

We're looking for one more teacher-built lesson to go here.

Technique #2: using snapshots and thoughtshots

Familiar with Barry's snapshots and thoughtshots for revision?

We're looking for three more teacher-built lessons to go here.

Mentor Text: 101 Ways to Bug Your Teacher by Lee Wardlaw

Lesson author: Amanda Chaney, elementary teacher

Technique #3: writing slow motion moments

Mentor Text: Wringer by Jerry Spinelli

Lesson author: Corbett Harrison, Nevada trainer

Familiar with Barry's slow motion moments technique?

We're looking for three more teacher-built lessons to go here.

Technique #4: digging for potatoes


Familiar with Barry's digging for potatoes revision technique?

We're looking for four teacher-built lessons to go here.


How To... Poems: Our Revision Class Activity

In Reviser's Toolbox, Barry Lane shares a type of poem called How to Be... Poems. These are simple poems that are built from a list of verb phrases. The writer can take any topic and write a series of verb phrases the topic would do: How to be a Fraction, How to be a Confederate Soldier, How to be a Three-toed Sloth, etc.

To explore how three steps of the writing process are distinctly different from each other--drafting, revising, and editing--our workshop participants create How to Be Poems... for these three topics.

On the first night of class, we show participants the example you see at right: How to Be an Editor...

After discussing the format of the poem and the difference between drafting, revising, and editing, the participants work together in a group to create a How to Be a Rough Drafter poem. Below, you will find some of the samples from a recent class.

Participants are informed that on the last night of class, they will individually be writing How to Be a Reviser Poems, inspired by what they learn during the whole class.

How to Be an Editor...

Remove the run-on's.
Quietly consult with Mr. Webster.
Kill those pesky comma splices.
Double-check your’s apostrophes.
Say “Oops!” when you spy one,
But then fix it with a smile.
Capitalize first words, names, and I’s.
Let your eyes rest for a while.
Let a loyal partner look it over
Just to be safe. Then…
Using your very best handwriting,
Celebrate your final draft,
Proud of its close-to-perfectness!

How to Be a Rough Drafter...
chart poems by our participants

Click on the images to make them larger!
How to Be a Reviser...
final drafts by our participants
How to be a Reviser...
by Raeann, elementary teacher

Don't hold on too tight to the rough draft
Be open to new ideas
Read from every angle
Move things around
Play with your writing
Try it here
Try it there
Have fun with it!
Read your writing out loud
Fear not!
Walk away
Return and review
Remember....revision is not for the faint of heart
Embrace the possibilities
Write again
.....and again
..........and again.
A writer never has to produce a FINAL draft
....like life it can always be changed
How To Be a Reviser
by Nancy, middle school teacher

Write a rough draft you believe in.
Re-read your rough draft with a smile.
Take a walk.
Read a book.
Eat a meal.
Hang out with a friend.
Re-read your rough draft with a smile.
Take out your green pen.
Find what is good; bring it to life.
Change words with your mind; be kind to your heart.
Change phrases with your heart; double check it with your brain.
Finish with comfort in a phrase
Or a challenge in a statement.
Let it go.
Publish it.
Now it has a life of its own.
How to be a Reviser
by Jennifer, middle school teacher

Take off your rose colored glasses and
look at your paper with new eyes.
Ready to change and rearrange.

Like a new year:
Out with the old, in with the new.

Delete redundant ideas-
Delete redundant ideas.
Add some sparkle

Rephrase confusing wording.
(Delete redundant ideas)
Repeat words/phrases for emphasis.
Look to others and examples for guidance.
Try something new

Don’t be afraid to change.
It isn’t black hair dye that won’t come out.
And even if it doesn’t,
you can bleach it a few times
to make it different and unexpected.

Take out your toolbox
and find the tool that is best suited
for the job.
Not the one easiest to reach.

How to Use ABC's of Revision
by Karel, substitute teacher

Alliterate Nicely
Bludgeon Overused words
Create Prepositional phrases
Demand Questioning
Exaggerate Regularly
Form Series, after series, after series
Go for Transitions
Hyperbole Usefully
Invent Variety
Juggle Words
Keep it eXtreme
Love Your mentor text
Make it Zany

How to Revise
by Ryan, elementary teacher

Take a breath
and dive right in.
Flow and rhythm
will vary like your sentences
Revise your characters to
Sing with their thoughts and actions.
Expand on your ideas
Extend them as a series of three.
Stand up for your draft,
Make the choice,
and when your done with your revision,
just realize you're never finished.

Back to the top of the page

Visual Artifacts from our Workshop's Participants

In our revision workshops, we present a variety of tools and strategies designed to teach our students to think with the language of revision. So that our participants really know the power of the strategies, we have them actually create tools as if they were students in their own classrooms. Last year, we began photographing and posting some of the teacher-created work. We hope you find these visuals inspiring.

Revision Board Games
(an writers workshop tool created by our class's participants)
Revision "Menus"
(choice-driven tools for writers workshop)

We believe when students know enough about revision, they can create their own tools to inspire each other to think about improving draft writing. One tool that students seem to enjoy creating is a revision board game that can be played during a writers workshop. To begin this activity, challenge students with the following R.A.F.T.S. writing prompt, which we use during our workshops to inspire our teachers to create board games:

What tools/lessons would your students need to have in order to create revision board games that might authentically inspire other writers in your classroom?


Student choice is an important element in a differentiated classroom. Great teachers understand the power of letting students choose, but they also understand the importance of guiding them to make good choices. We sometimes call this type of guidance "The illusion of choice," which makes our teachers laugh, but then we let that laughter guide us as we design choice-based tools.

Revision menus (like the response menus shared by Campbell Valle on our Response Homepage) require students to make pre-determined choices about how they will move a rough draft forward to the next stage of the process. There is a variety of ways to instruct students to use these menus; our favorite is asking students to choose one task from each section of the menu.

In groups, our teacher participants design the following creative revision menus (using this criteria list for their menu items) during our workshop! You can click on the photos to view/print the menus in larger form. We hope these menus inspire your students to want to create their own menus for your classroom.

(Students choose one appetizer.)

(Students choose one main course.)

(Students choose one dessert.)

(Students choose one appetizer.)

(Students choose one main course.)

(Students choose one dessert.)
The Four Corners of 90th Street
(choice-driven tools for writers workshop)

Our Four Corners of 90th Street craft lesson (posted above) has students revise writing done to this prompt: "Write about a time you did nothing, trying to make it seem interesting." In our teacher workshops on revision, we adjust the activity to focus on a piece of original fiction instead of a personal narrative. We have class participants write a six-sentence story about this Homer Winslow painting, asking "What's going on in this picture?"

While participants are writing, we place four corner stations around the room. Each station has a picture of one of the four character's who gives Eva advice from the book and Post-it® Note-sized templates big enough to write a revised sentence on. Here are what the four corners look like before we read the first part of the book aloud. If you click on the images, you can see them enlarged.

After reading the first five or six pages of Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street aloud, participants paraphrase the four pieces of advice and discuss which of the six writing traits each piece of advice is hinting at. We write the paraphrased advice onto the posters, then teachers travel around to each corner with their six-sentence story rough drafts. At each station, they re-write one of their stories' sentences (using the poster's advice) on a Post-it and leave it behind. At each poster, they may apply the advice to a different sentence from their stories, or to the same sentence.

When they return from visiting all four posters, they revise their six-sentence stories, recalling from memory which changed sentences became better and adding just those to their second drafts. We then discuss other classroom ways to use the four corners of advice from 90th's street to inspire revision from writers.

Below are the four posters after the teachers had visited them with their rough drafts in hand. You can click on the images to view/print them in larger form.


Back to the top of the page

© Copyright 2015 - WritingFix- All Rights Reserved.
Please, share the resources you find on these pages freely with fellow educators, but please leave any page citations on handouts intact, and please give authorship credit to the cited teachers who created these wonderful lessons and resources. Thanks in advance for honoring other educators' intellectual property.

home ] [ e-mail the webmaster ]