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More on Rereading

Last Friday, after Christi read Thursday’s post about rereading, she said, “Will you teach a lesson like that in here?” Naturally I was game and a little excited. Lessons are always better when you get to try them again.

This time, I explained rereading is something writers do to get a feel for how the story will be for the reader. Reread it and imagine you are the reader, listening to this for the first time.

Then I offered them this challenge:

Since you are more than the reader (you are also the writer), you have a little writer in your brain and as you reread your writing this little writer will talk to you. Pay attention to what he (she) is saying. The little writer may tell you something doesn’t make sense. He may say you need more background in your picture. Maybe she will ask you where the punctuation is.  If you listen, I promise this little writer will talk to you. Be ready for it and have a pencil in your hand. Writers always reread with a pencil because we know the little writers in our brains will be talking and we’ll want to make a note so we don’t forget the important things they tell us.

I think this concrete image of  little writers in their brains made a difference. As they moved into work time, I asked everyone to try out some rereading with a story they were drafting (or recently finished drafting). At the end, we asked students to share what their little writer said to them during rereading.

We made a draft of a soon-to-be chart:

As always their responses were incredible. As Christi and I were reflecting on workshop, Christi noticed much of what they said were the same things we’ve been saying to them all year. Christi conferred with one writer who writes the exact same thing on every single page (of every single book). When she asked, “What’s the little writer in your brain saying?” this student responded with, “He’s saying, ‘Man this story keeps saying the same thing over and over.'” Christi and I are hoping he’ll listen to the little writer in his brain better than he does us. 😉

I feel like this is important work and I’m looking forward to seeing where it leads. I’d love to hear more thoughts about helping students become effective re-readers.

Ruth Ayres View All

Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.

6 thoughts on “More on Rereading Leave a comment

  1. thanks for this! i used in my fourth grade class this week and, during conferences since the mini-lesson, writers have been really receptive to rereading while listening to their little writer. one writer’s comments about what his little writer was telling him to do were so serious that it made me wonder if he realized the little writer is himself. ha! (i decided, though, not to tell him, as saying this out loud may make him more reluctant to listening to the little writer.)


  2. I tried a version of this lesson today with my kindergarten class. We got some great responses about what our little readers were saying. “You need a different word, add that to your picture, say more, try a different color, etc…” We did broach the idea of trying things out. This is where we will pick up tomorrow. I am still working on this lesson and how to make it achievable by my kindergarteners. Today’s lesson had some great surprises! I did have one little guy tell me, “My little writer says I’m done.” I had to laugh!


  3. I love the image of the “Little Writer.” And yes, I agree with Linda that that voice could be a problem earlier in the process. Can’t wait to try this with kids! Thanks, Ruth, for sharing your ever-brilliant thinking!


  4. Linda’s comment is such a thought-provoking response. So true- the little writer is only a friend during revision, not drafting! I imagine even young writers might need to be reminded of that. I love the way this lesson sets the stage for focused revision without narrowing the focus to a single aspect of craft. I often provide students with a single focus just to force them to actively notice or change something, but the little teacher in my head nags at me that this is not truly authentic.


  5. I love the little writer concept. I couldn’t believe the last student’s response to his repetition. I would have been tempted to say, “Do ya think?” What a good story!! The little writer in my head can’t stop talking when I write!! Revision, revision, revision!


  6. I like the idea of giving them permission to listen, this time. With older students, I might remind them how we often discuss that when they write, they’re supposed to turn ‘off’ that voice, and just write, let the words go on the page. But this time, when re-reading, turn the ‘editor’ back on, and listen.


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