Improve Student Writing with This One Super Revision Strategy


English teachers begin their instruction of writing by either teaching or reviewing the writing process.

English teachers also know that the revision stage of the writing process is the hardest one for students to learn. It’s the critical-thinking part of the stage. It’s the stage that requires the most work, and it’s the stage that takes the most time.

It’s also the stage where the rigor happens.

Students sometimes become frustrated with the intensity of the revision process, but their main frustration comes from not having concrete strategies to use when doing the revisions themselves.

The 4 Rs of Revision

Once students reach the revision stage of the writing process, they need to learn that this stage has its own process, too.

  • Re-visit
  • Re-read
  • Re-vision
  • Repeat

When they revise what they write, they re-visit their work, they re-read what they have written, and they read for a purpose. Then they can re-vision how they might change, add, delete, restructure, and/or re-write sections to better communicate what they mean.

—and then they repeat the process. 

Students also need to understand the distinction between the revision and the editing process as well. Revision is for content and purpose. Editing is more for checking the conventions of the language—spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar. Of course students also need to understand that the writing process is not a step-by-step process—that writers often go back and forth between the steps, completing some in at the same time.

When students begin learning how to revise their work, try this strategy. It works well for most genres of writing including expository and informational writing, narrative writing, and persuasive writing.

Three-in-One Revision Strategy

This revision strategy gets students revising their work right away. The foundation of the three-in-one strategy starts with the read aloud. When students read their work out loud, so many things pop out to them as awkward, extraneous, missing, or incorrect. The key to success is reading to a partner, or a peer writer, or anyone willing to listen. For instructional purposes, this partner activity teaches students to revise well, and teaches partners to focus their listening by asking questions that require detailed answers. Your students will enjoy learning this strategy because it makes idea development tangible, and it teaches them how to improve their writing themselves.

1, 2. 3 Revision Strategy

  1.  Read Aloud to Partner / Partner Asks Questions: Writers read their stories, essays or reports out loud to partners. When writers finish, partners ask three questions about what they may not understand, what they want to know more about, and/or what they have questions about in general. No one writes anything in this step.
  1.  Writer/Partner Discussion: As partners ask questions, writers list and number these questions 1, 2, 3 at the bottom of their papers. Then writers and partners discuss answers to the questions. Writers don’t answer questions in written form. They discuss with their partners possible answers. Students can write the answers as they discuss the questions, but this section is to get students verbalizing what they mean or meant to say.
  1.  Writer Re-read:Writer’s then re-read their work to find where within their document they might piece answers to the questions asked. Students don’t write the answers, though. They place numbers in the area where they might add information, and then then

re-write their work inserting the information that corresponds to the question.

Repeat this process for each revision.

For the repeat process you can require students to  insert similes, vivid verbs, compound sentences, or anything else that corresponds to the writer’s craft you want to teach in the assignment. Make sure to have students insert no more than two craft items, and when partners read for a second, third and/or fourth time, they can focus their listening on listening for evidence of the craft.

The strategy itself can be revised to fit your instructional focus.

Use this strategy for short or long writing assignments and/or within Project-Based Learning (PBL) units of study. Try it with the writing projects in the PBL unit
Publish or Perish – Deadlines and Designs from GoTeachGoThroughout the unit, students learn the writing, editing, proofreading and publishing processes involved in creating a magazine—and then they create one.

They also strengthen their abilities to examine and understand different points of view while researching and writing about varied topics. The 1, 2, 3 Revision Strategy is the perfect strategy to facilitate discussion and develop informative written presentations from varied points of view.

Students enjoy the process, and they learn how to improve their writing themselves.

So why not give it a try?


Be sure to visit TeachersPayTeachers to examine lots of great PBL units of study from GoTeachGo.


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