One strategy I use for essay revisions is to have essay editing stations! These stations are for students to have a more focused revision process and to save grading time in the future. I have found that more time during revision really strengthens students’ writing and confidence in the writing process!
I have six stations and span this activity out for three days (two stations per day for 20 minutes each). Depending on your students, you can have more or less stations, and spend more or less time on this activity!
How to Set-Up
Student prep prior to editing stations: Students should finish their first drafts of their essays! These stations can be digital or on hard copies. If it is digitally, they will take their computers around with them and edit on Google Docs, or wherever you have students complete their essays. If you have limited access to technology, have students print out at least one copy of their essay prior to class and they will write their edits directly on their paper.
Printing preparation: Print out all station materials. One copy of each station should suffice, but if you have a larger class size, you may want to print out a few copies of the instructions per station so students do not have to share one copy. An option to print out a student handout for students to make notes on during the editing process.
The room: I have a total of 6 stations placed around the room. You should print out each station and place them at a table or section of the room. You can do this before students walk in, or easily move them into groups, and then give each group their station afterward.
Groups: You can randomly put students in groups, or you can purposefully group students on skill level and/or where they are in the writing process. You may want to put students who have not finished their essay yet in the teacher conference station first, for example, so you can give them individualized help to get them going, OR you may want to put them in that station last, so you can give them feedback on their final product. This is entirely up to you! The easiest and lowest-maintenance way is to just put students in random groups, but you have options!
The Lesson Plan
This lesson plan is designed for a 55-minute class period. If you are choosing to do two stations per period, 20 minutes each, that will take 40 minutes. The other 15 minutes would be dedicated to explaining how stations would work, time in-between each station for students to move, and leaving a few minutes for any warm-up or closing routines that you may have. How much time you leave for each station is entirely up to you! Students typically always want more time, but the stations are for students to just begin the revising process, write notes about what they need to focus on, and start editing. They will need to continue their revising on their own time (you can give another class period for edits, or assign it as homework).
Before beginning, I project one direction slide! The direction slide explains how the stations will work, how much time is allotted, and reminding students that some stations may take longer than others. It’s important to tell students that if they do not have enough time to finish their edits at a station, they should be writing themselves notes so they can address the rest of the edits at another time. If they finish their work at another station early, that is also their opportunity to work on other elements of the editing process. The stations each have very detailed directions, but you have the option to briefly go over the directions for each station with the class beforehand; I typically just emphasize students to read their task cards with their group when the stations begin.
I pass out the handout I use and explain that is where students can write notes and reflect on their station. Again, many students will not have time to address every single edit during those 20 minutes, the purpose is mainly the identification of any issues and starting those revisions. (You may choose to not use this handout).
I tell students that for homework, they should finish the edits for the stations they completed that day. For example, if they did the Dead Word station and the Formatting station that day, they start their edits at their station in class, and at home, they complete them. The next day, they focus on other elements of their essay. After all the days of editing stations, their essay should be revised! You also have the option to have one last class period dedicated to editing their essay and addressing all their notes. I would allot anywhere between 2-5 days! (I do 3 days of editing stations and I sometimes allow a fourth day for in-class editing, depending on student need).
While there are SO MANY different areas of focus you can choose, this is what we typically do:
Read Aloud Station: At this station, students will read their essay out loud to themselves to catch small errors. They will also look at the rubric and self-grade their essay. You will want to provide the rubric that you will use to grade their essays.
Formatting: We write our essays in MLA format, so this is all about checking their MLA format and in-text citations!
Dead words: This station is dedicated to improving vocabulary and getting rid of “dead words,” or phrases that we should avoid using in academic writing.
Peer editing: During this station, students will exchange papers with someone else and give them feedback.
Teacher conference: This is a station where you will meet with students and give them general feedback. There is no worse feeling than getting an essay and realizing that a student was lost and didn’t advocate for themselves, so they flew under the radar. This ensures you are starting your feedback before the final product. If you worry that students will not stay on task on the other stations, you can get rid of this station, and walk around instead and help/conference with students that way. But this is personally my favorite station!
Organization check: This station is to ensure that their essays are organized and have all the required elements and reads clearly!