Revision: A Little Like Pulling off the Band-Aid

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.

6 thoughts on “Revision: A Little Like Pulling off the Band-Aid

  1. What a wise writer you are working with here! I love that you were able to share the conversation of the conference. Those are precious moments!

    • Thank you, Michelle. They are precious moments! I learn so much about my writers just by talking with them about their writing.

  2. I like that you take the time with an individual student to work together on revising. The band-aid image makes sense; it’s always great when a student understands the value of a lesson!

    • Thank you! I learn so much about my writers when we take the time to have writing conversations. It is an investment worth making!

  3. I love this! As I work on revising an article, I definitely need to think of this process as a band-aid! I’ve been struggling a bit with revising this particular piece and reading this will help me wrap my head around all that I need to do to make the article better. Thank you (and C) for inspiring me!

    • Thank you, Jen! I experienced a similar situation recently. Revision can be so hard at times. You will get it figured out, though. Sometimes it is a matter of letting a bit of time pass, too. Good luck!

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