Inspiring Revision through the Mentor Text:
In his Reviser's Toolbox, Barry Lane shares many resources focused on a writer adding thoughtshots during the revision process. In between sentences that tell or describe, writers can add sentences and phrases that explain what they (or a character) are thinking. If you have a copy of Reviser's Toolbox, be sure to use some of Barry's thoughtshot-based teaching resources to strengthen this lesson.
Now, after rough drafts have been written, tell the students they will be revising their "bugging" writing sample, but first they will listen to a well-written piece from an actual published author. The mentor text is 101 Ways to Bug Your Teacher by Lee Wardlaw.
Ask them to listen to the way author Lee Wardlaw introduces information for his audience and to listen to vivid details from the text while listening. When they revise, they will need to add vivid details that didn't make it to their rough drafts. Encourage them to--instead of adding lots of vivid details--to add only a few, but a few that are unique and memorable.
Tell your students that Lee Wardlaw also likes to use a reviser's technique called thoughtshots. On page 151, for example, the author uses this example in the last paragraph:
“Nothing…everything…nothing.” How could I explain to her what had happened at the meeting if I couldn’t even explain it to myself? I’d never felt like that before, never acted like that before. I’d screamed at my mom—one of the three special people in my life who needed to stay as de-freaked-out as possible right now. I’d run out of the house like a crazy person. Chucked my precious invention journals out the window like they were old Frisbees…
Read the page again while the students soak up the information and then have them discuss as a group key points that make this page an example of a thoughtshot.
Now have the students pull out their writing again and read it. Prompt them to now think about their writing and where they could add a thoughtshot to improve it. A thoughtshot could be about anything they are thinking at the time of an event and its occurrence.
Have students write ideas for thoughtshots on their drafts, in the text or off to the side or as a whole new copy. If you would like, have the students share thoughtshot ideas with a partner or a small group.
Read the thoughtshot example again from 101 Ways... and then have students help you brainstorm thoughtshots that could be added to the teacher model. Below are some ideas. It is powerful modeling to write down several ideas so that you can show them how it's better to have several to choose from instead of taking the first and only idea that comes to mind.
Oh my brother, the pain, he just simply does not understand the word “no!” Sometimes I just want to teach him a lesson he will never forget.
What is he doing? His stubby, nubby finger is poking me annoyingly and I want to just grab it and twist.
Re-write the prompt on the board—“Describe an event in which someone or something was bothering another individual”—and share with them that now that they have been introduced to a thoughshot it is their obligation as a writer to put at least one into practice.
Ask the students to start again with their writing prompt and keep in mind the new techniques for the toolbox. They are allowed to borrow ideas from the author, their partners, and other things that inspire them.
Be sure to show them the revised version of the teacher model, which shares vivid details and a thoughtshot.
At my home one blistering summer day, my brother deliberately decided to begin his daily torturing device: the threat of a poke. He always does this annoying action to me. His stubby, nubby finger extends out and his face shines with mischievousness. Oh my brother, the pain, he just simply does not understand the word “no.” Sometimes I just want to teach him a lesson he will never forget.“Mom!!” Trouble was now just around the corner for this snot-nosed pipsqueak and that revenge felt sweet to me.
Remind them that they are revising, not editing (which comes next), so they should not worry about spelling and punctuation. This is their chance to get their ideas down a second time, but this time in a way that uses better details and thoughtshots.
Extend the Learning:
Assign a few more quick prompts to your students over the next week or two. This time, before students start writing, remind them of Lee Wardlaw's writing and Barry Lane's thoughtshot technique. Challenge them to use these techniques in their first drafts so they can try some new craft tricks during revision time.
Share your Students' Improved Writing:
(and earn a free resource for your classroom)
WritingFix Safely Publishes Students from Around the World! In 2008, we first began accepting students samples from teachers anywhere who use this lesson. Hundreds of new published students now go up at our site annually!
We're currently looking for student samples for all grade levels for this lesson! If you obtain both a thoughtful rough draft and an even better revised draft from a student for this lesson (in typed, scanned, or photographed form), they can be posted at this blog page. If we select your student's sample to be moved from the blog to this page at WritingFix, we will send you a free NNWP Print Resource for your classroom.
At WritingFix, we aim to safely publish students' writing from all over the world. We're looking for student samples to post for this page's write-up! If your students write a rough draft that is improved upon by this craft lesson, we want to see both drafts! If we feature one of your student's writing on this page, we will send you a complimentary copy of one of the NNWP Publications for your classroom.