Revision Strategy #3: Rubber Banding

Posted July 18, 2017 & filed under Lesson Plan, Notebook, Student Writing, WITS People.


With younger children, this concrete activity called “Rubber Band Stretching” works well.  Demonstrate how a rubber band starts out small and can be stretched much larger.  Read a simple sentence out loud, and ask for suggestions about how to expand it.  After a student successfully stretches a sentence by adding new words, hand her a rubber band ball.  When a second student stretches the sentence further, the first student passes the ball to the second.  The game continues until it is impossible to stretch the sentence anymore!  Students then apply the lesson to a piece of their own writing.

With older students, the rubber band can be used to discuss sentence length in more complexity. Bring in a strong piece of writing that includes short, medium, and long sentences.  Discuss the various effects.  If you have a geo board, you can actually record or map out the sentences using rubber bands.  Show how the rhythm of a piece changes depending on sentence lengths.

As a spinoff activity, ask students to map out sentence lengths in advance.  Then, try to write a paragraph that fits, and notice how the paragraph sounds.  For older students, it is empowering to see how they can control the rhythm of their piece just through sentence length.

-Marcia Chamberlain, WITS Houston

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