9. Revising Sentences

(This lesson comes courtesy of my time at Deep Center–if you like the lessons, please consider donating to or teaching with this awesome youth writing program!)

Summary

  • The key to revision is specific, measurable tasks from teacher to author.
  • This week we’ll also begin writing our author bios for publication.
  • Remember, Deep writing is original, vivid, and fearless.

Today’s goal

  • Evaluate sentences/lines to make sure they’re serving a purpose, moving the piece forward, not just taking up space.
  • Vary the length of sentences/lines to add interest. Consistent, frequent, and varied use of simple, compound, and complex sentences?
  • Check for verb tense shifts, other mechanics.

Target exercise ideas

  • This week is heavily writing-focused. Keep your target exercise brief so kids have time to revise.
  • Shake it up. Revision weeks can be intense with lots of sitting and scribbling on the page. Start the day with/break up the process with stretching, a little yoga, deep breaths, a lap around the room, shaking out hands and feet, etc. Anything to get some blood circulating and brain juices flowing.
  • Take a break. Similarly, if you see your group is getting anxious or losing focus, get them up and moving together for a minute, then settle back into the groove.

Reading ideas

Writing prompt ideas

  • This week, each author is responding to specific, measurable individual revision feedback from writing fellows.
  • Consider these questions to guide your written feedback this week:
    • Does every sentence/line serve a purpose, move the piece forward?
    • Do we like the pacing?
    • Are sentence types varied: simple, compound, and complex?
    • Do we have parallelism where we should?
    • Do we have subject-verb agreement? Tense shifts?
    • Do we have any boring, overused words? Phrases?
    • Do we have too many articles or prepositions?
    • Is there is anything in all caps? How can we add emphasis without doing this? Do we need to add italics?
  • If anyone finishes early or needs a revision break, they can begin crafting their author bio:
    • Write your own author bio. This is your chance to speak directly to your audience as yourself. What do you want your readers to know about you? Stay away from bland stuff, and give your readers some personality! Give a strange fact about yourself that most readers wouldn’t know. Why do you write? What do you hope people gain from your work? It’s okay to get silly or be serious—your pick.

Sharing/performance ideas

  • Do You Feel Me?: As young authors share their pieces, get at least two students to explain the emotions they felt using specific moments in the text. Ask the author if that was their intention, and allow peers to suggest ways to make sure people “feel” where they’re coming from. Bring in a piece of your own to model.