In an earlier post, I explained how the Sentence Blueprints we use in Shurley English provide a targeted skill practice in writing well-constructed sentences. In this post, I want to build on that idea with another exceptional strategy that bolsters our young writers’ word choices and helps them think very specifically about their writing, in general.
It’s called The Revision Strategy, and it is part of the Sentence Blueprint activity I talked about. I love the word revision, because taken literally, it means to see again. Isn’t that exactly what we want our young writers to do with their writing? Revising is like looking carefully at your writing, but seeing it with new eyes!
Notice that the Parts of Speech labels occupy the uppermost fields. The next line shows an original sentence a student might write. Below that, the student makes revisions to the original sentence. But it is the fourth field that I find the most useful because it is the place where a kid’s thinking reverts from an internal process of the mind to one that is visible to both the student and the teacher. I always value the quality and effort in the thinking process more than final outcomes when it comes to kids and their progress, which is why the work by Dr. Carol Dweck and her Growth Mindset theory is so fascinating to me.
Here, in the process of teaching students to write, we’re actually teaching them how to think. Each revision strategy has its own label, as you can see in the dark blue dots that are numbered above the example. In Shurley English, we teach students what each revision is called and how it can improve a sentence. Just as a scientist slices through a sample to view a cross-section of its internal workings, so, too is a Sentence Blueprint exercise to a young writer. Of course, this is a targeted lesson and would not be done daily. It is used primarily to draw a focus upon the process effective writers undergo when writing. At this stage in the instruction, we use very basic vocabulary and simple revision strategies to get the point across that writers usually revisit a piece of writing several times before calling it complete. Some writers revise along the way, but for our students, we cannot assume they even understand the process of how to revise—so we show them step by step!
Next time, I will share with you some of the ways Shurley English helps students take basic vocabulary and sentence structure to new heights…stay tuned!