Tag Archives: teaching

Esbru and Revision Strategies

empire-state-run-up-header

Wednesday, the Esbru, the Empire State Building run up takes place this Wednesday in New York City. Kelly Ripa, of Live with Kelly and Michael, will participate as will many others who will run up the 1, 576 stairs in 86 flights in dark, cramped, oxygen limiting conditions to raise funds for Multiple Myeloma Research and other worthy causes. I say bravo to them for their single-mindedness and dedication to this task.  From what I’ve read, success in this task requires the use of a variety of training strategies

newyorkageempirestatebuildingrunup01-w440Strategies benefit writers in their climb to the top as well. Last week, when presenting my children’s book at a K-8 school, a 7th grader asked me what is harder – writing the beginning, middle, or end of a book. I responded that the middle is the hardest and qualified it with “actually, the revision of the middle is the hardest. Writers usually know where they want a piece to begin and end, but getting the delicious details and connections right in the middle is the hardest.  Revision is a beast that one must constantly try to harness with a variety of strategies.

Some of the revision strategies I find helpful in my race to perfect my writing include the following:

Reading a piece out loud is a favorite of mine. I used to advise my students in testing situations to pretend they were sitting in our author’s chair sharing with the class, and to read their piece out loud – inside of their own head – so as not to disturb others. Otherwise, I suggested that they really read the piece out loud. So many glaring errors appear during the out loud reading of one’s work. This reading aloud is like a team that supports any competitor whether it be a race or a creative task.

Another favorite revision strategy of mine involves bouncing ideas, or sections of my writing off of others. Their input and honest feed back often prompts such additional creativity for me. The right person must be picked for this task. Having one say, “That’s really good,” is not helpful to a writer. I trained my students to respond with specifics about what they liked thought lacked details or proper connections in a piece of shared writing. I also reminded them that listening or reading a piece for revision is not the same task as being asked to edit a piece. It is so much easier to correct punctuation and spelling than to really get to the heart of what needs to be fixed about the writing. This frankness and specificity is what helps me improve my writing. Don’t you agree?

A final strategy that I use throughout the writing process is to carry my idea everywhere I go. I keep the piece front and center in my thinking and jot ideas down for revision on the notes section on my smart phone. Some of the best ideas come when I’m listening to presentations or seminars on a variety of topics. It just seems that when my brain’s energy moves on to direct itself to other tasks, fresh creativity sneaks in the other side of my brain. Once again, I try to hold on to the idea long enough to politely jot it down on my phone while not disturbing the speaker. This strategy keeps me pumped up and keep my eye on the prize of writing my best piece.

These are some of my most productive strategies to climb to the top in my race to improve my writing What revision strategies work best for you?

Children are Real Writers

A recent incident in California highlighted the value of children’s writing.  It seems two cousins wrote a book of 157 rules to live by, and then lost it in a Wal-Mart parking lot. A young worker who retrieves carts found the book, recognized its value, and advertised for its owners.

Now that girls and book are reunited, I hear that publishers are seeking the rights to publish the book of heartfelt rules like, “Don’t bite the dentist,” and  “Don’t keep saying please, if someone says no.” book of rules

Just like all real writers, these girls wrote about what they know best: their rules were gained from their life experiences and the advice of their parents. Like all real writers, these girls developed the skill to closely observe life around them.

As a teacher, these are the skills I tried to hone in my students. This kind of teaching takes time, but the benefits pay off. You may have seen post of my students’ work in my blog before; they wrote some amazing pieces – and they valued themselves as writers.

Teaching students to be real writers can come very early. I recently helped my seven-year-old granddaughter write some poems inspired from her Christmas book, Where the Sidewalk Ends  by Shel Silverstein.  See if you think she’s a real writer, too.

 Racing ©

by Delaney

Depends on if the

Judge is fair.

Depends on the

Sneakers you wear.

Depends on if

They count the nose.

Depends on if

You have long toes.

Depends on if

The track is square.

Depends on if

There’s dusty air.

Depends on if

You are not fat.

Depends on if

They put down a mat.

The race is won

By the raciest one.

The Groomer ©

by Delaney

I do not want my fur to go.

I do not want my nails cut low.

I do not want my long ears shaved.

I do not want my body bathed.

I do not want to have to wait

Locked up in a tiny crate.

My mom arrives

And hugs me so

All my worries

Far to go.