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In this lesson highlighting the need for a defined revision process, students will gain confidence in their ability to critique and improve their own work using easy-to-understand techniques.


  • Students will be able to revise their own writing.
  • Students will be able to use the five steps of revision to improve their writing.

 Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.3a Write and edit work so that it conforms to the guidelines in a style manual (e.g., MLA Handbook, Turabian’s Manual for Writers) appropriate for the discipline and writing type.


Six 50-minute class periods


Slideshow: 5 Steps of Revision

Handout: Teacher sample (letter of recommendation, story or anything with multiple paragraphs)

Handout: Verbs Make a Difference

Student writing (students to provide one hard copy of their writing for revision)


Colored pens

Computers with word processing software (Days 5-6 only)

Sample stories

Lesson step-by-step

Day One

1. Introduction — 20 minutes

Slide 2: Stress that there’s no such thing as a bad writer.

Before revealing Slide 3, ask the students what they do to revise their work.

Slide 4: Allow students to answer the question on the side and discuss.

Slide 5: Allow students to comment on the paper now that they realize this is not a “bad writer.”

2. Application — 10 minutes

Each student will need a highlighter.

Slide 6: Go over the notes. Emphasize how important it is for the reader to speak audibly.

Model the behavior with a piece you are writing/have written. If you can use a projection device to display the story, it’s best for all students to see as you revise throughout the lesson.

3. Practice — 10 minutes

Students will complete this step marking with highlighters where they stumble or repeat words.

If time permits, ask them to highlight trouble areas. Then repeat the activity reading aloud. How is it different?

4. Closure — 10 minutes

Invite students to discuss what they heard when reading their stories aloud. Assign students to rewrite the areas highlighted and bring a fresh copy of the story to class the next time.

Day Two

1. Connect to prior learning — 5 minutes

Review previous day’s lesson. Ask to see highlighted copies and fresh copies of students’ stories as assigned.

2. Application — 30 minutes

Begin at Slide 7. Discuss with each slide (7-10) how the story is better when dialogue is included. Help them identify places where dialogue can help a story.

3. Practice — 15 minutes

Students start Step 2 in the process. They will rewrite the areas highlighted and bring a fresh copy of the story to class the next time.

Day Three

1. Review — 5 minutes

Briefly reconnect to the previous day’s lesson. Ask to see highlighted copies and fresh copies of students’ stories as assigned. Remind students to do Step 1 after every rewrite.

2. Application — 20 minutes

Use the slideshow to address Slides 11-16. Discuss differences.

3. Practice — 15 minutes

Ask students to circle all the adverbs (-ly words) in their papers with a colored ink pen. (In Microsoft Word, students can use the Find action to locate them faster.) Determine whether these adverbs enhance or contradict. Decide if a more specific verb makes the adverb obsolete.

4. Take-home activity

Select better verbs for the ones that had adverbs that only enhanced, and bring a fresh copy of the story to class the next time.

Day Four

1. Review — 5 minutes

Review previous steps of revision. Ask to see highlighted copies and fresh copies of story. Ask them if they did Step 1 after the last rewrite.

2. Application — 20 minutes

Cover material beginning at  Slide 17. (You might want to review the section on verbs in this unit under usage.) Continue through Slide 22. Optional activity: Consider using a story from one of the sources listed above. Pull out the verbs and show students in a list on the projector. Have them evaluate what they see.

3. Practice — 15 minutes

Ask students to underline verbs and then list them straight down a sheet of paper. Have them circle all the “be” verbs.

4. Follow-up and take-home activity

Assign students to make a list of verbs in their draft. They should select better verbs for the weak ones and bring a fresh copy of the story to class the next time. Make a second copy of the story removing all the quotes.

Day Five

Each student will need access to a computer with Microsoft Word or whatever word processing software you use.

1. Guided practice — 30 minutes

Begin with Slide 23 in the presentation and continue through Slide 28. Walk students through the process of how to set up the extended spelling and grammar check if you use Microsoft Word. The steps are the same if using Mac or PC, but the last window will look a little different on the settings. Explain about grade level. Do not worry about higher grade levels because readability goes down as the reading level goes up. Journalists write to be read.

2. Independent practice — 20 minutes

Have students run the new settings on their stories – the versions without the quotes. Note percentage of sentences in passive voice. Keep that below 10 percent.

Day Six

1. Review — 20 minutes

Review the whole process. Begin with Slide 29 and continue through Slide 31.

2. Compete and submit — 5 minutes

Students turn in final stories. (You can choose to give them an additional day.

3. Reflection — 25 minutes

Provide time for oral and written reflection so students can discuss and write about what they learned.

(A video of Lori Oglesbee teaching this lesson in one day: