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.