Collaborative Stories 2: Revising
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Using a story which has been written collaboratively, students engage in a whole-group revising process by having each student add a sentence at a time (see the ReadWriteThink lesson Collaborative Stories 1: Prewriting and Drafting). The teacher leads this shared-revising activity to help students consider story content. Students begin by reading their collaborative story and then discuss ways of making changes. Then, after revisions have been made, they reread the story as a group. Finally, students come to a consensus on a title for their story.
From Theory to Practice
In "Editing: Permission to Start Wrong," Sydney Gurewitz Clemens reminds us that professional writers "edit their own work, and they also use the editing expertise of others" and that "both are necessary for excellent writing." She poses the idea that the "most important and hardest thing to grasp about writing is that you write it wrong at the start. Then you change it a lot. Then you throw away most or all of it" and that "few children of any age know that writers may write a hundred pages and keep just eight or ten. The lesson so often in school is to get it right the first time."
Engaging children in the revising process is as important as engaging them in the drafting process, but often it's difficult for a young writer to let go of a personal idea. Bruce Saddler states: "Given manageable strategies and a classroom culture of support, students should come to realize that a first draft is just that-a draft, and that the need to revise is not a sign of failure, but rather an expected step in the writing process." (26) In this lesson, the path to revision is made less personal by asking students to revise not only their own ideas, but the ideas of others, in a collaborative environment that in essence does not include the intimidation of focusing on just one child's words and ideas.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
- 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
- 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
- 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
- 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
Materials and Technology
- Internet access
- General classroom supplies (pencils, colored markers, crayons)
This lesson is a follow-up to Collaborative Stories 1: Prewriting and Drafting. Students will have already collaboratively written a draft of a story, which will be the basis for this revision activity. The story should be written on chart paper and posted on the wall in such a way that the entire story is visible.
The emphasis of this activity is on revising for content, not editing for spelling errors or other language conventions. If students point out mistakes during the revision process, acknowledge their contributions and make the changes; however, this lesson does not include editing activities.
Before starting this lesson, give students the opportunity to work alone or with partners on the word-game Websites listed in the Resources section (or your own favorite, fun, language sites) where they can practice language skills.
- participate in a group revising activity.
- demonstrate reading comprehension skills by suggesting revisions to a story draft.
Instruction & Activities
- Gather students together as a group to read their collaborative story. Initially, read the entire story without interruption, then have students comment on the character, setting, plot, problem-solution relationship, and ending.
- Tell students that they are going to make changes to the story two different ways: first they are going to talk about ways to make the story even better, and then they can make any corrections that they think are necessary.
- To address content, ask a series of questions such as the following:
- Does this story make sense, overall?
- Does the very first sentence of the story make you want to keep reading?
- Is there any part of the story that doesn’t make sense to you, that we might want to change?
- Is there any part of the story that seems to be out of order, that we might want to move to a different place?
- Is there anything that seems like it doesn’t belong in the story?
- Do we need to say more about the character(s)?
- Do you get a good picture of the setting when we read this story, or should we add something to make it more clear?
- Does this story have a problem that gets solved?
- Do you think the events in the story lead to the problem and solution?
- Is this a good ending, or should we add more to it?
- Does this story make sense, overall?
- As students respond to the questions and make suggestions, ask for agreement from the group about the suggestions. Make the changes right on the story: use a ‘strike-out’ line for any deletions, then write in the new text above the deleted text. Use a black marker to make all changes, or any color that has not been used in the first draft. Here is a picture of what this might look like.
- When all revisions have been made, reread the story as a group. Ask for any final suggestions, and then have the group come to consensus on a title for the story. Let students know that they will be doing illustrations for the story another day.
- Have small groups work on revisions to the story using copies made with a word processor as a precursor to revising together. Each group can bring their ideas to the whole group.
- Make enough copies of the story for all students to illustrate the whole story individually and keep their own bound copy of the story. Alternatively, ask students to create a book cover or dust jacket for the collaborative story using the Book Cover Creator. The tool does not include an option to save the work, so be sure that students do enough planning that they will be able to complete their covers in one session.
- Have students continue to use the revision techniques both individually with their own work, or in collaboration with other students. (Remember, this is revising for content, not editing for spelling and other conventions.)
Student Assessment / Reflections
This activity may be the first time students have formally revised a piece of writing. Although one could assess the quality of the finished collaborative story, teacher observation during student discussion and participation in whole-group revising would best give the teacher an idea of student needs for future writing projects.