Informational Essay: Revising
In this informational writing lesson, middle school students will have the opportunity to fine-tune their writing by adding, deleting, or reworking content in their informational essay drafts. They will use a revision checklist to guide this critical step in the writing process, reviewing both a peer's essay as well as their own before beginning their second draft.
Students will be able to make revisions to their informational essay draft.
- Write the word revision on the board and ask volunteers to share what they know about this part of the writing process.
- Explain that revision is the critical process of improving writing by adding, deleting, or reworking content. This part of the writing process focuses on making sure our writing is well organized, includes relevant evidence, and uses precise language.
- Tell students that the goal of today’s lesson is to fine-tune the content of their informational essay using a checklist as a guide.
Explicit Instruction/Teacher modeling(8 minutes)
- Display a copy of the Revision Checklist: Informational Writing worksheet, and distribute a copy to each student.
- Go over the items in the checklist, and note that they are nested under headings that describe the revision focus.
- Emphasize the difference between revising and editing. Explain that revising is when you add, cut, move, or change information so that you can improve the content of the writing. Editing is when you take a close look at the words and sentences that you use, fixing any problems with grammar, spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure. Point out that today’s goal is revision rather than editing.
- Model using the first section of the revision checklist to guide revisions of the example essay’s introduction. Below is an example essay introduction for a draft that answers the research question, “How does pollution affect the ocean?”
- Have you ever heard of ocean pollution? Pollution harms marine animals when they mistakenly consume litter in the ocean. Ocean debris creates large concentrations of trash that form garbage patches. Pollution in the form of chemical run-off contaminates water, promoting the growth of toxic plants. Pollution has a significant impact on the ocean because the presence of trash and chemicals in the water threatens marine animals and their environment.
- Think aloud about the introduction’s level of engagement, the clarity of the thesis statement, and the relevance of the supporting points, and make notes about revisions on the actual draft. For example:
- While the hook utilizes the effective strategy of asking a question, it’s not an interesting question that would pique a reader’s interest. We can change it to: "Did you know that billions of pounds of trash and other pollutants enter the ocean each year?"
- The introduction feels choppy because it lacks transitions between the ideas. We can reorganize sentences and include some transitions to say: "Because of the vast amount of litter in the ocean, marine animals often mistakenly consume inedible, harmful items. The litter also drifts together to form problematic garbage patches. Other pollution, in the form of chemical run-off, contaminates the water, promoting the growth of toxic plants."
Guided Practice(10 minutes)
- Explain that peer review is a helpful exercise for writers at all skill levels because it trains writers to use a critical eye and identify areas of improvement in others' writing as well as in their own.
- Invite the class to collaboratively revise a portion of the teacher example using the Revising Checklist: Informational Writing worksheet.
- Read aloud the revised portion of the essay to ensure that it looks and sounds the best it can.
Independent working time(25 minutes)
- Create student partnerships. Explain that individuals will first exchange their essay with a peer for revision, and then they will revise their own essay.
- Have students take out their informational writing drafts and their Revising Checklist: Informational Writing worksheet. Instruct them to exchange with a partner and utilize the checklist to guide their peer revisions. Direct them to then revise their own essay when they are ready.
- Instruct writers to begin rewriting their draft, implementing the revisions from today’s exercise, so they are prepared for the next lesson’s editing focus.
- Provide sentence frames to support student conversation about essay revisions, such as “I like that you…” and “I think this could be improved by…”
- Have students chunk their revision process by working on small sections of the draft at a time.
- Challenge advanced writers to write a few conclusion paragraph options to share with the group that focus on a memorable ending that leaves the reader with more to think about. Provide them with a copy of the Practice Writing a Conclusion worksheet to guide them. Then, ask them to share their options with the class, highlighting their process and ultimate decision about which conclusion to use.
- Circulate during the independent working portion of the lesson to evaluate student ability to make revisions.
Review and closing(2 minutes)
- Ask students to identify one area of improvement they will make.
- Call on volunteers to share with the group.
- Preview the next lesson by telling students that the next step in the writing process will be to make edits, which will focus more on the grammar and conventions of writing.