Standard Lesson

Once Upon a Fairy Tale: Teaching Revision as a Concept

6 - 8
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Five 50-minute sessions
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Students sometimes have trouble understanding the difference between the global issues of revision and the local ones of editing. After reading several fractured fairy tales, students make a list of the ways the original stories have been revised—changed or altered, not just “corrected”—to begin building a definition of global revision. After students have written a “revised” story of their own, they revise again, focusing more on audience but still paying attention to ideas, organization, and voice. During another session, students look at editing as a way to polish writing, establishing a definition of revision as a multi-level process.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

In the book Strategic Writing, Deborah Dean asserts that "revision has layers" (151). In helping students differentiate between revising for ideas, organization and voice and editing for word choice, sentence fluency and conventions, she suggests breaking the process into more than one day, allowing students to focus on strategies that influence revision before applying strategies for editing. Furthermore, following her suggestions for reflection after strategy practice can help students transfer the fun practice they get with this engaging activity to other situations and other writing, building long-term procedural and conditional knowledge of revision as a concept and strategy for writing.

Further Reading

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.

State Standards

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

  • 2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
  • 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.
  • 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

Several fairy tales from the Fractured Fairy Tale Booklist




Student Objectives

Students will

  • explore ways writers alter familiar tales.

  • identify how one change may entail other changes.

  • differentiate between global and local revision.

  • use self-monitoring and peer feedback to evaluate effectiveness of a text.

  • reflect on what it means to revise and on strategies for revision in other conditions.

Session One

  1. Ask students to list fairy tales they know. Ask students to identify the characteristics that makes the stories fairy tales, including the beginning, the use of magic or unrealistic elements, a problem that must be overcome, a happily-ever-after ending, setting in a different time or place, and so forth.

  2. Define a fractured fairy tale:
  3. A familiar fairy tale that has been altered in some way to create humor. The story will need to have enough of the original to be recognizable but changed enough to create humor.

  4. In small groups, have students read at least 2 or 3 fractured fairy tales, developing a list of what main change the writer made from the original. They should make a second list of what secondary changes occurred as a result of the primary change. For example, in Ruby the author changes the setting and the characters; so the character of Little Red Riding Hood is a mouse who lives in the big city. Because of those primary changes, the mode of travel changes, the language changes, and the helper changes.

  5. When students have read several tales, combine their small-group suggestions to create a class list of primary changes authors made, including changes in:

    • setting (both time and place)

    • character

    • resolution of the story

    • point of view

  6. Be sure students also notice that these changes necessitate other changes in:

    • language

    • tone

    • smaller details of the story
  7. In this discussion, remind students that writers didn't develop original stories, they revised stories known to readers. The students should notice the kinds of changes writers made.

    • Did they entail spelling?

    • Did they entail punctuation?

    • Or were they more related to ideas in the story, or organization of the events, or the voice of the storyteller?
  8. Encourage students to notice that the changes fit this second category and that these revisions are much more substantial.

  9. Return to the original list of stories made by the class, and add any titles that students now recall. Have each student choose a story from the list and at least one major change they could make to the story from the list of options the class developed.

  10. For a few minutes, have them freewrite on how the major change might affect the story in other ways (not writing the story yet).

  11. In small groups, invite student to share ideas for revising the original story and consequences of those revisions. Peers should give input on additional consequences or possibilities students might not have considered while writers take notes on their ideas to use in drafting.

Session Two

  1. Review the discussion from the previous session, and select a fairy tale for the class to work on and one aspect to focus on for revision.

  2. Share a model of a fractured fairy tale with the students. Discuss what they notice in the fractured fairy tale.

  3. As a class, use the interactive Story Map, and draft a fractured fairy tale.

  4. After the class has practiced drafting a fractured fairy tale, assess the class draft using the rubric. This process will give students a chance to work with the rubric so they know what will be expected in their own writing.

  5. Next, have students review their notes from the previous session, and draft their own versions of the stories they have chosen, keeping in mind the definition of a fractured fairy tale and the main and secondary changes they have considered. They may want to use the interactive Story Map to help them as they begin drafting.

  6. At the end of the session, have students reflect orally or in writing on how the change they selected was influencing their writing. What other changes did they need to consider? Have them consider how revision can cause chain reactions-one change might make other ones also necessary.

Session Three

  1. Begin this session by introducing the Peer Evaluation for Global Revision handout. Use its questions to comment on the class draft from the previous session and make suggestions for revision.

  2. Use the accompanying example of the draft and its global revision to talk about the kinds of changes that can come from peer responses and how they improve the story.

  3. With their individual drafts of a fractured fairy tale, students should then meet with partners to share their drafts. Using the questions suggested on the peer evaluation handout, have peers make suggestions about ideas, organization, and voice. Writers should pose the questions to the peers and then write down suggestions.

  4. Considering those suggestions, students should revise-change or alter-the draft they have so that they come to the next class with a revised draft that addresses the issues raised in their peer evaluations.

  5. At the end of this session, have students reflect on how sharing their writing with others and listening to others' responses creates a perspective that also prompts revision. What kinds of changes do they need to make in order to consider audience concerns? How should this help them when they revise in the future?

Session Four

  1. Separate global revision from local revision by making sure they occur on different days. Sometimes students complain about this, but once they understand that changes in ideas, organization, and voice will make comments about conventions and sentences invalid, they usually come around.

  2. Have students familiarize themselves with the questions on the Peer Evaluation for Local Revision handout by using them to make suggestions either for the class story or the accompanying model example.

  3. Then, working with peers, ask students to address the questions on their Peer Evaluation handout for local revision and to use the comments and suggestions to polish their writing for sharing and turning in during a later session.

  4. Teachers can accompany this lesson with mini-lessons on sentence fluency or conventions such as using dialogue and punctuating it effectively. If students need more details on punctuation, for instance, the ReadWriteThink lesson Inside or Outside? A Mini-Lesson on Quotation Marks and More would make a useful mini-lesson at this point. Additional suggestions are included  in the Extensions section.

Session Five

When students have completed a revised and edited version of their stories, allow class time for them to share the stories either aloud or through silent reading with others.


Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Teachers can assess the stories students write for story qualities. If so, adapt the provided rubric as necessary to meet class goals.

  • Students should reflect in writing on the lessons they learned about revision so that they can transfer that learning to other writing situations. These are possible reflection questions:

    • What do fractured fairy tales teach us about revision?

    • How did you define revision before the unit, and how do you define it now?

    • How is global revision different from editing (local revision)?

    • How will what apply what you learned about revision with this writing practice to other writing you do?

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