Welcome to my stop on the “best of the best” blog hop. I’m so pleased to be joining host Secondary Sara, and other amazing ELA teachers, as we share our favourite lessons and products.
One of my favourite things to teach is the writing process. I love seeing kids discover that they can write something they feel proud of. Most often, they just need to slow things down and think. My Revision Learning Stations are designed to do guide them to do just that.
Whenever I have my students write their first essay with me, we take our time, focusing on the steps writers should take as they plan and revise their essays. We devote several days to the pre-writing stage. I wrote last week about the strategies I use to get my twelfth graders to plan and focus their arguments, so they can be ready to write a solid first draft. Once they have that draft, I spend a few days presenting mini-lessons on skills like using transitions, varying sentence lengths, selecting the best word, etc. The students complete a second draft, and then we have our final day of revision and feedback.
REVISING WITH LEARNING STATIONS
On that day, students will come to class with a hard copy of their latest drafts and will spend the period rotating around various revision stations. I put the students into groups and send them to their first station (order doesn’t matter). At each station, they will find various task cards that instruct them to focus on a different area of their essays. I also provide post-it notes that they can use if they need more room to write. In these photos, you can see students working on embedding quotations, creating varied sentences, and using strong verbs. I like to give them ten minutes at each station, and then have each group move clockwise to the next station. However, if a student needs more time, or if one finishes a station early, they can stay or move on.
I love using stations for the final revision stage, because the students get very focused. Most take their tasks seriously, making notes to themselves about revisions they will make at home later. They love that the stations slow the process down, allowing them to focus on one element of their writing at a time. Stations also provide a wonderful opportunity for differentiated learning, as I can sit with individual kids and instruct them in the areas they need to work on.
USE THE SAME STATIONS FOR PEER REVISION
Once every student spends time at each station (it usually takes about 40 minutes), I ask them to decide which station represents an area where they feel they need to do more work — Were they unsure if their topic sentences were focused enough? Did their writing flow? Were they using the best words? Once they decide, I ask them to go back to that station, and to get a partner to read their essay, focusing on that particular element for feedback. The discussions that follow are always amazing: focused, detailed and very constructive. You can repeat this process with another element, or even use each station for peer feedback, if you like.
After revision and feedback day, my students will do a final copy to be passed in. However, I don’t want the process to stop there, either. I think it’s so important that they have a chance to do something with the feedback with me, rather than just look at the mark. I want them to learn to self-assess and to carry their learning forward. So, when they pass in an essay they also pass in a self-evaluation, one that explains what they did well and what they struggled with. Then, after they get their essays back from me, I have them record what was successful and what still needs work. You can grab the form I use here.
So that’s my favourite product, which you can buy today and tomorrow for 20% off! Carry on with the hop to find out what my friends love to use in their classrooms.