Revision Strategy #1: Clouds

Posted November 7, 2013 & filed under Lesson Plan, Notebook.

Revision is not easy. Even for the professionals among us, revision can be tricky. And teaching revision to young writer can be a real doozy! At WITS we practice stealth revision. That means that we break complex process of revision into parts and introduce those parts one by one. Here’s one example.


After a student finishes her story, ask her about the different emotions in the piece.  How would she describe the feeling that goes with each part?  Does she need to add any clarification?  If so, get her to mark the place in her draft with a cloud symbol.

Then, on a separate piece of paper, the student can draw a cloud symbol and write inside it what the character was feeling at that moment.  The “cloud” is for those times when you just might need to tell (rather than show).

It helps students to have a list of synonyms (cheerful, dejected, fuming, distraught, unruffled) for common feelings (happy, sad, angry, frustrated, calm).  If they keep this list in their writing folder, they can refer to it throughout the year, and you will notice richer language in their revisions.

Here is a second grader’s revision using the cloud technique:

cloud rev ex wits

-Marcia Chamberlain, WITS Houston

Carets, a Delicious Writing Treat

Posted January 11, 2008 & filed under Lesson Plan, Notebook.


To encourage my students to revise, I bring in this lesson by Marcia Chamberlain. Students as young as first grade can learn to use the caret and delete editing symbols. Before students revise their individual pieces, we revise a piece of writing as a class. I bring in a carrot to help teach using the “caret.” Students use the carrot to point to where they want something added. To practice deleting, students take turns leading the class in making the loop de loop sign in the air; we create a funny noise to make with the movement.

In the above example, the original line of the poem read, “the sound of the big dolphins.” The students agreed that ‘big’ was a boring word, so they replaced it with ‘humongous.’ I asked the students to create the actual sound they believed dolphins make, so we could include that in the poem. “Tri tri” is what they came up with.

Then it’s time for students to revise their own pieces. I bring in red pens for students to revise with or let students select one of their colored pencils. The novelty of writing with a new implement is often enough to make revising exciting and fun!amy-lin-in-a-maze.jpg