Help Your Students Improve Their Revision Skills

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How many times have you asked your students to revise their work, only to have all of the papers returned to the hand-in basket within a few minutes with little to no changes at all?  The problem is that many students lack the necessary grammar skills required to revise. 

Simply writing a comment on a student’s paper to suggest a revision isn’t enough.  These comments are usually unclear and unhelpful to them—i.e. ‘too vague, too wordy, repetitive, etc.’ Students need more support and instruction than this; they need someone to show them how to make these types of revisions if they are to learn how to revise their content and achieve optimum results.

Students need a well-rounded grammar foundation to write with competence, and that foundation should include learning very specific revision skills.  It doesn’t have to be a painstaking task, but it is a process that must be taught.

First, students must understand that revising means to find ways to improve word choices and sentences in their rough draft.  They must also understand that revising requires them to read their rough draft critically several times to make sure they’ve said what they intended to say in the way they intended to say it.  They must read it aloud to themselves, and it helps to read it aloud to others to help find the “rough spots” that could use improvement.

A checklist to revise and improve the rough draft can be extremely beneficial.  The following example will help students focus their attention on five of the traits of effective writing, including:  (1.) ideas, (2.) organization, (3.) word choice, (4.) voice, and (5.) sentence fluency.  Try it out in your classroom today to help your students improve their revision skills!

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Writing Folder: New Tools for Writing Success


The Shurley English Writing Folder will help your students move through the writing process with ease. This foldout, four-pocket folder keeps students organized with a dedicated space for their prewriting, rough draft, revised draft, and edited paper. It is packed with handy references, checklists, and tips to ensure students have exactly what they need to produce a polished piece of writing.

The Shurley English Writing Folder…

  • helps students learn all the steps of the writing process, until it becomes second nature.

  • keeps the most important writing strategies and processes front and center during writing time.

  • provides detailed graphic organizers so students can organize their ideas logically.

  • teaches students how to revise and edit their own writing in a step-by-step manner.

  • develops students’ vocabulary in order to empower them with word choice that is both deep and wide.

  • hones students’ use of accurate academic language in the field of writing.

  • builds confidence and competence as students review each panel systematically throughout the year.

The Writing Folder is rich with content! It provides students quick access to the following reference tools:

  • Graphic organizers

  • Sentence outlines

  • Transition aids

  • Revision strategy checklists

  • Sentence pattern examples

  • Writing process checklists

  • Figurative language definitions and examples

  • Editing tools

  • Homonym lists

  • Capitalization/Punctuation rules with examples

  • Comma usage rules with examples

  • Compound sentence formulas

  • Complex sentence formulas

  • Quotation mark rules and examples

Shurley English Writing Folder:  © Shurley Instructional Materials, Inc.

Shurley English Writing Folder: © Shurley Instructional Materials, Inc.

Shurley English Writing Folder:  ©Shurley Instructional Materials, Inc.

Shurley English Writing Folder: ©Shurley Instructional Materials, Inc.


Order today!

To add the Shurley English Writing Folder to your ELA classroom, simply call with your credit card, email your School Purchase Order, or visit our online store today!

Writing Folder: 978-1-58561-425-7

Writing Folder (10 pack ): 978-1-58561-426-4

Recommended for Shurley English Levels 3-8. Size: 9“ x 12”

Revision Activity: Breathing new life into students' sentences

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One of my favorite things to do is to play with words. I love to figure out how to turn a phrase in just the right way to make my meaning clear. That’s my goal for all students so that they can master the language and control it. Being able to manipulate language to fulfill your own purposes for communication is, in my opinion, an endeavor worth pursuing.

One of the features of Shurley English that I enjoy dabbling with is the Mover and Shaker Sentence. It is the off ramp from the Sentence Blueprints I have discussed in an earlier post. This kind of skill practice can help a student writer take the next important step toward highly refined revision skills. If you can convince a student writer to explore word and phrase arrangements to maximize their impact on a sentence, you have truly helped to elevate their writing. Here’s an example from our text that will show you a basic Mover and Shaker maneuver that you can have student writers begin practicing immediately.

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To get started, guide your students through a Sentence Blueprint to construct a good focus sentence. After that, be sure to have them go through the revision process initially to make sure they have chosen the most effective words to express their thoughts. Then, try a Mover and Shaker strategy like the one in this example. Notice, we have done a little finagling with the verb. (In Shurley English, we teach students early and often about verb forms, so it will be a walk in the park for them to understand a verb form change from the past tense to the progressive tense. We also teach students how to manage affixes with expertise, so in the case of the verb tromped from our example, we drop the –ed past tense ending and replace it with the progressive tense –ing suffix.) Next, we take everything after the verb and, along with the new verb form tromping, we move it to the front of the sentence. Now, all that’s left is to come up with a new past tense verb to replace tromped from the original sentence. In this case, the verb bellowed serves up a great visual. Can’t you just picture it?

When your students have demonstrated their knowledge of basic revision skills and you want them to breathe new life into their sentences, why not try a Mover and Shaker strategy? It’s like word to word resuscitation! Until next time…

Comment /Source

David Lutz

David, a former classroom teacher, administrator, and self-proclaimed grammar nut, considers the oddities of English vocabulary and grammar his playthings! He received his degrees in elementary education, teaching, and curriculum design from CMU in Fayette, MO, and the University of St. Mary, Leavenworth, KS, respectively. His career has been a colorful collage of experiences in education, ranging from Kindergarten to Adult education and parenting classes.


He and his wife, Marjorie, have been blessed with 30 years of marriage, three grown sons, a cherished daughter-in-law, and the smartest, cutest grandson on the planet! He’s worked for Shurley Instructional Materials, Inc., for over 11 years and loves to help students and their teachers learn to love language and language learning as much as he does.