Inspiring Revision through the Mentor Text:
In his Reviser's Toolbox, Barry Lane shares many resources focused on a writer using imaginary "binoculars" when revising. Writers can aim their binoculars at their writing and focus or zoom in on things in their story's scene. If you have a copy of Reviser's Toolbox, be sure to use some of Barry's binocular-based teaching resources to strengthen this lesson.
Tell students they will be revising their unlikely friend prompt writing, but first they will study how a published author uses "binoculars" to show the reader through an unusual friendship by listening to a summary of The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Students will also have the chance to explore the book by reading some selected chapters and looking at the pictures in this unique novel.
Amazon.com features a four-and-a-half minute video with author Brian Selznick talking about this lesson's mentor text. You can share this video with your students.
Click here to access the video.
After giving the students a brief summary of the novel, allow them to explore the introduction through page 61. Direct them to pay close attention to the pictures and the details within the pictures. Ask them, while reading the text, to monitor how closely the words play off of the pictures. Ask, "How does the author lead the reader from the text into the pictures and back to the text?"
Author Brian Selznick is a master at using descriptive adjectives to paint a picture in the readers mind. His use of details and adjectives easily lead the text into the pictures. Have the students mark any parts of the chapter they are exploring with a sticky note that they like; whether it is a descriptive passage, a good example of well written adjectives, or a part that paints a picture in their mind.
How do the pictures help move the story along? Is it possible for your writers to sketch drawings within their own writing? If so, where would they put their pictures?
After thoroughly exploring the first chapter of Selznick's novel, have the students take out their writing of an unusual friendship (or any piece of writing they are currently working on). Ask them if there are any places in their own writing where they could zoom in using their binoculars and add some descriptive details. Can they pick a few sentences and make them come alive with specific details? Are there parts that paint a picture in the reader's mind? Could the reader sketch a detailed drawing about the writing after reading their writing?
Ask your writers how they might improve one or two of their sentences from their unusual friendship prompt using the zooming idea and the detail skill(s) they have talked about in the mentor text. Ask them to revise just a sentence (or two) from their original student sample that shows the mentor text’s skill in their own writing.
You might consider showing one or two different ways to revise a sentence from the modeled writing so that students realize they have choices.
- I always thought he was trying to steal my mechanical pencil, so I was mad at him a lot. (original version)
- My mechanical pencil was an object of his desire and more often that not, it was in his hand being used without my permission. (revised version)
Remind them that this is revision, 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 zooms in on details.
Below is a completely revised version of the model that might inspire your student writers.
Joey usually had a look of mischief worn on his face. He was a master at seeming to pay attention to the teacher while skillfully looking out of the corner of his eye. Joey joined my third grade classroom after the school year had started. He was the “new” kid and his desk was right next to mine. My mechanical pencil was an object of his desire and more often than not, it was in his hand being used without my permission. This would infuriate me to the point that I all I could do was stare at him with the most evil face I could create. During recess we would go out to play soccer and were usually on opposite teams. I would try with all of my might to somehow make him trip, miss the goal or get a foul. I was usually unsuccessful with my attempts-he was just a better soccer player than I was. I soon discovered that Joey was not trying to steal my pencils, he just didn’t have any of his own and he was afraid to ask me if he could borrow mine because of the mean faces I would make when I looked at him. I had to laugh hysterically at that and soon we were best friends playing on the same team.
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 Brian Selznick's writing and Barry Lane's zooming techniques. Challenge them to use those tricks 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.