A recent teacher conference with a 4th grade author in my classroom:
Me: (after reading through her literary essay) C____, how do you feel about your essay?
C: It is confusing. My thoughts seem to be all over the place.
Me: Okay. What is your main message?
C: The little firefly had friends all along. He didn’t give up, and he finally found them.
Me: Okay. Where would be the best place to introduce your opinion?
C: In the beginning?
Me: That sounds good. Do you think we could move some things around?
C: (hesitantly) Okay…
The best part of her essay begins in the middle, so I highlight the top half and press “cut.”
C: (concerned gasp) What did you do? Where did it go?
Me: Don’t panic. Let’s paste this part at the bottom and move the rest up. Remember, revision isn’t about checking capitals and punctuation.
C: That’s editing.
Me: Yes. Revising means moving things, adding things, or deleting things until your message is focused and clear.
C: Yes, but it feels like pulling off a band-aid.
Me: (chuckling) Yes, I suppose it does. Good simile, C.
She works through what to keep, where to put it, and what to completely remove. C finishes and is visibly pleased with her work.
C: This is so much better because everything was all over the place and wasn’t all relating to the first thing I said. Thanks, Mrs. V., for pulling off the band-aid. It is much better. I like it!
Me: You are welcome, C. I like it, too.