Empowering Writers

April 2016 Lesson of the Month

Any writing teachers out there who don’t have writing assessments on their minds? If you teach writing in a tested grade, it probably never strays far from your thoughts. Often times, at this point in the year, you feel as if you’ve done all you can do and now it is up to the students. Some are even doubting their ability as teachers because of the effort they’ve put into the writing process versus the samples published by students. BUT, how can we keep improving skills leading to the day of the test? This month we’ll look at a skill that can do just that! Let’s review Author’s Group Revision Model in this month’s lesson and continue improving student’s writing craft up to the “Big Day” and beyond! Even if you teach writing in a non-tested grade, or if the test is already behind you, this model is an extremely revision tool for improving student craft.

Lesson of the Month – A Closer Look: Author’s Group Revision Model

Author’s Group Revision is a skill authors practice. They meet with fellow authors and critique each other’s work. This routine approach is a way to improve their own craft and learn from one another. This practice is the idea behind Author’s Group Revision Model. In the lesson that follows, see how this technique can greatly improve your student’s writing ability!

Here’s what you’ll do:

  • First, choose a student sample from your class or a fellow teacher’s class. Read through the story or piece and choose specific weaknesses to address with your class. (Save student samples year to year that show specific weaknesses you want to point out and use these periodically).
  • Project the student sample and read through it with students. (We’ve included one that you can use.) After reading the entire piece, have the students think about its weaknesses and strengths.
  • Chart the weaknesses and strengths pointed out by the students. Many times, students will have a long list of strengths and very few weaknesses. There are a couple of reasons for this. If it is a classmate’s sample, they hesitate to criticize too much, and they do NOT realize the weaknesses. It’s obvious, as they point out many strengths and few weaknesses, that they don’t see the weaknesses in someone else’s paper – or their own.
  • Once you’ve charted these according to the student responses, begin to address the weaknesses.
  • For example, if you want to address MAIN IDEAS, first go through the piece and point out the details that are listed with each of the MAIN IDEAS (it helps to chart these as well). The students will begin to see a pattern of repeated details leading to the realization that the MAIN IDEAS are too general. They will often times want to go back to the list of weaknesses and add their new found realization – the details are repeated, the MAIN IDEAS are too general. (See the sample included below with this newsletter for further clarification)
  • Another example might be looking for boring details, ones in a list or just simple details with no elaboration.
  • Still another example could be looking for introductions or conclusions that are weak.

* Note: Think about the knowledge students are gaining about their own writing by noting the weaknesses of their own work or that of their peers. This is a profound moment for many students!

  • Next, go through the weaknesses in the paper, taking suggestions from the students on possible “fixes” for the paper. Depending on the weakness the teacher is highlighting, use an Empowering Writers skill to respond to the shortcomings. For example, create a Pick, List and Choose to strengthen the MAIN IDEAS, add sentence starters to the MAIN IDEAS generated, ask the detail-generating questions – “What does it look like?” and “Why is it important?” to enhance the details, or review the introduction/conclusion techniques to heighten these areas.
  • Add student suggestions on the paper or use “tails” to add revision to the piece.
  • Once the revision is complete, give students back a sample of their own work and have them improve the piece, addressing the same weaknesses in their sample, you addressed with the group.

Teaching Tips:

  • Have Scoring Parties with students. Let the students be involved in scoring their essays using standard rubrics. This approach, along with the Author’s Group Revision Model, will improve student writing.
  • Don’t forget to teach grammar strategies along with the writing process. This will improve writing while providing opportunities to converse about writing in a holistic way.


Download Authors Group Model
Download April Spring Sample to use with Authors Group Revision Model