Revising Rough Drafts, the Third Step of the Writing Process

Page content


Here it comes, the part of the writing process that is most like pulling teeth…. Revision! While totally necessary and arguably the most important part of writing, getting your students to revise can be difficult to say the least.

Most students write their rough drafts and consider themselves finished! When you tell them, “Sorry, you’re not done,” they will question your sanity. “Why would she want me to go back and write more? I’ve done enough,” is what they will say to themselves.

This typically stems from years of simply writing rough drafts and turning them in as final copies. If your school system is different and students have been made to follow the writing process, then you probably want to consider yourself lucky; revision may not be such a chore for you to teach.

Another problem many students face is that while they have been made to revise, they have simply been told, “Revise.” Many kids have never been given specific guidelines as to what their teachers actually want them to do during the revision process.

This is where you will be different. Decide exactly what you want your students to look for in their revisions, model it, (in other words, give them examples) and then let them work as you walk around the class offering advice and encouragement.

Remember that revising is not the same as editing. In revision, you are looking for ways to improve wording and sentence structure. In editing, you are simply correcting grammar mistakes.

If you have time, you may want to break-up the revision process into a few days. One day you may want your students to work on their vocabulary. For example, getting rid of the word “very” and replacing it with a better word or just dropping it altogether. Another day you may want your students to add introductory phrases to some of their sentences. (For more, read about this vocabulary building activity.) Like always, it is up to you what you require. Just be specific. If you have required introductory phrases, tell them the minimum required in each paragraph. The more specific you are, the more successful they will be, because they know what is expected.

When assessing this portion of the writing process, you may choose to assign it part of their overall grade or you may choose to assign it a stand-alone grade, just as you did with the rough draft. To easily see what revisions students have actually made, have them highlight any changes. This will make grading much easier.

This post is part of the series: The Writing Process

In this five part series, the five steps of the writing process will be addressed. Pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing will be explained and tips given as to the best ways to teach each step.

  1. Understanding the Pre-Write Component of the Writing Process
  2. The Writing Process: Writing a Rough Draft
  3. The Writing Process : Revision Lesson Plan
  4. Middle School Lesson on the Writing Process: How to Edit
  5. The Writing Process: The Final Draft & Publishing