For years, I struggled with how to specifically teach revision. Then the six traits came along, and life as a writing teacher became much easier. One night on the couch while watching Extreme Makeover Home Edition, a bright idea popped into my head. Why not let my students treat a rough draft as something that needed to be completely “made over”? I could still use the six traits by teaching mini lessons on word choice, sentence fluency, and voice. Then, I could put students in “design teams” and let them “tear down” a rough draft and “rebuild” it with the tools of revision.
This idea came to me seven years ago, but it is still something that I use in my classroom each year! Students become excited as soon as I mention working in “teams” and they become even more excited when I tell them that we are having a competition to see which team can create the best extreme makeover on a piece of writing. I start by giving them all the same story. It’s bland, boring, and in need of a lot of work. Most of the time, I let students work with a partner, but sometimes I allow them to gather in groups of four, and revise the piece of writing by improving the grabber, word choice, ending, details, voice, and sentence fluency. Of course, at this point, we have already covered all of these writing traits in mini lessons and with various activities.