I’ve been thinking about this post for a few weeks now. I’ve heard teachers ask students to “fix” their writing when asking them to revise. For some reason, this word — fix — hits me like a knife in my gut. What do they mean fix? And if the writing is so bad that it needs fixing, why in the world would the student want to revise in the first place?
I’m thinking about my kitchen floor. I’m soon (although not soon enough) going to have new tile throughout my kitchen, breakfast area, bathroom, back hall, and laundry room. The majority of those areas have carpet now. They aren’t broken. They don’t need fixed. They work just fine. Yet, we’re still going to replace the flooring. It’ll be better — especially when I drop an egg in the kitchen or the kids play with play dough at the table. It’ll be different. Remodeled. Not fixed.
If I had to fix my kitchen floor it wouldn’t be nearly as fun. I wouldn’t have five tile samples laying throughout the area right now. I would have taken the first one that was good enough. I wouldn’t be shopping and waiting for the best deal. I would have taken the first one that wasn’t too expensive. I wouldn’t be enjoying the process. I would just be fixing the floor, because it had to be done. Usually when I have to do something, it isn’t fun.
The same is true for students. This attitude of needing to fix-up writing is one of the barriers to students learning to value and yes, I’m going to say it, enjoy revising. When asked to “fix their writing,” they are doing it because they have to, because the teacher told them to do it. This isn’t empowering.
I believe it is important to teach students the reasons behind revision. Below are three key reasons that seem to have a strong impact on student revision. Once they understand the why, they are much more willing to do the work.
Reasons Writers Revise
- To make good writing even stronger.
- To play with punctuation and language . . . to have FUN!
- To make writing more meaningful.
By starting here, students will be more willing to do the hard work of revision. It is worthwhile and these reasons keep us going even through the messy parts (which I’m sure there will be some of as we begin remodeling the flooring in our home). Perhaps we should ask students to remodel their writing . . .
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