Monday, May 20, 2013

Round and Round Revision- Making Student Writing Stronger!

Greetings my dear friends!

It seems like it has been forever since I have posted here on ATUE! I am excited to share with you a strategy that I use in my classroom. I created this format for revision knowing that my kiddos are writing their final project of the year in my writing class. (Their final 'test', if you will, in my writing class).

Too often my students will share their story with a partner, and the partner will inevitably say, "It was good!". They smile at each other and go back to their seats, confident that they have just written a New York Times Best Sellers list story. REALITY? It needs some serious...shall we say INTERVENTION?!?!?!?!?!

So... enter the amazing Round and Round Revision activity. I created this handy little tracker so that students would HAVE to respond to the story they were reading. NO BLANK BOXES were allowed in a column.

Before the students started, I modeled for them how the first round would work. (I told them we would worry about rounds 2 and 3 later). We discussed what comments were NOT acceptable (Good job...Nice...Liked it...etc.) They knew they had to be specific- "I really liked the dialogue" or "You did a great job of describing the setting at the beginning of the story" or "You really need more detail in (name part) section of the story". I explained they would have four minutes to read the story, and then 1-2 minutes to respond to the reading on their Round and Round Revision sheet. I reminded them that they could NOT leave any box blank in their column- so they had to list TWO things they liked (the smiley face) and one thing they wanted to see improved (the '?')- and be specific.

Confident they knew what they were doing, I put them in small groups. Depending on the class, some groups were three some were four. Once students were sitting on the floor in a triangle or square (no leaning on walls, chairs, desks, etc.) I had them pass their rough draft, Round and Round Revision sheet, and their pre-writing plan to the friend on the right. I set the timer for 4 minutes and instructed the students to begin. It was dead-silent as the students intently read their neighbor's stories. I was excited at how focused they were. If they finished early, they were to re-read the story and/or look over the pre-writing plan (a required component in my classroom).

The timer rang and the kiddos started writing. Problems sprang up and I had to stop the herd a time or two to review the basics, but I was still pleased with how it went. I reset the timer and had the kiddos switch papers one the right again. We repeated and had fewer problems. Then, one final rotation for round one!

At the end of the timer for Round One, the students returned to their chairs. I had them read over their Round and Round Revision sheet and think about what was said. If we found a blank box, the student took their sheet to the responsible student and waited for him/her to fill it in correctly.

Once everyone had had a chance to look over round one information, we talked about what we needed to do with it. This led to a HUGE discussion on REVISE vs. EDIT. After we worked that out, the students were ready for round TWO!

In this round, students CHOSE a partner (it could NOT be someone that was just in their group of 3 or 4). They sat knee to knee with this new partner (across from each other). One person went first. The first student handed their Round and Round Revision sheet to their partner, and then they began to read THEIR OWN story to their partner. When they finished, their partner filled in round two on their sheet. One good thing, one suggested improvement. Then they switched. It was fun to watch students reading their story out loud. See, in my 'evil' plan, I knew that kiddos who hadn't reread their own stories as they were drafting were in for a shocking realization that their writing may have some serious errors in length and readability I wasn't disappointed as many students found they needed to make some SERIOUS changes in their formatting. and even in their story in general. They could HEAR that it sounded like a huge list of events rather than an actual story.

When they finished, we again talked about what they learned from the experience. By now (we were about 45 minutes into our class time) I was worrying that they would be getting bored.


They weren't. I think they were really enjoying all the sharing of stories. I then explained ROUND THREE. For this round the students would be doing ONE FINAL READING. Out loud to themselves. Some looked at me like I was crazy. They had just read out loud to a partner. But I was prepared with this response, because I debated whether round three was really needed when creating this. But it is needed. I realized that when they were sharing with a partner, they didn't have their paper to make notes on. They simply read. By doing a reread on their own, they could stop and make marks on their paper or pause and reflect on what they just read to themselves.

SO... on to round three!
Students took their Round and Round Revision sheet, their pre-writing plan, and their rough draft and found a space away from everyone else in the room and read. Granted some took this more seriously than others, but everyone was engaged at some level. I was very pleased.

By the time round three ended, it was time to start cleaning up and filling out planners. Students made notes on their Round and Round Revision sheet for round three, and we are going to start right back there today.

Students are going to reread all their notes and then we are going to talk about how to make changes to our writing. I am requiring students to make THREE changes (revisions) to their stories. I think this is going to rock!

I will let you know how it goes, my friends. I hope the next time you need to have a good, in-depth revision session, you will consider doing a similar event in your classroom and get those students focused on improving their stories!

I wish you a fantastic end to your school year. Please join me over on my Teachers Pay Teachers, my blog, Facebook, Linked-In, Pinterest and more. Click on an icon below to visit me! :)

-Mr. Hughes

Teachers Pay Teacher
An Educator's Life


  1. John,
    This is a brilliant idea! So easy to implement yet so effective. I use peer editing sheets with my class. I have found that unless I give them specific criteria for assessment, they say "I like your story, essay, etc." but don't give meaningful critical feedback, even though I know they are able to! I think I could use this approach with my checklists and success criteria to ensure a more consistent approach to feedback. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks so much for reading this post. :) I am SO pleased that I was able to share something that will make your life easier! :) Enjoy and stop by often. :)

  2. This is a great idea. I have done something similar but had kind of forgotten about it. Thanks for reminding me, and I like the way you set it up better than my way anyway. :)
    Brandee @ Creating Lifelong Learners

    1. You are awesome Brandy! :)
      Thanks for your kind words. Isn't it wonderful to be reminded of activities we used to do? Thanks for stopping by and have a great day! :)

  3. Great idea. Thanks for sharing. Is the revision sheet available for download anywhere?

    1. I don't have it posted anywhere, but if you would like to email me at:, I would be happy to send you a copy for your personal classroom use. :)

  4. This is GREAT!!! I was part of the National Writing Project this summer, and we got into response groups similar to this but not as structured. I had already planned to use this type of "meeting" for revision, but now you've given me a detailed plan to go with. Thanks so much!!!!!!!!!



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