Teaching Writing

Teaching Revision as an Act of Voice and Agency


This article grew out of the National Writing Project’s College, Career, and Community Writers Program (C3WP), “a collaborative inquiry into the teaching of source-based argument.” It documents an inquiry into the processes of collaborative response and revision in a twelfth grade classroom that emphasizes writing “not only as process but as a dialogue between a writer and a reader.” With a focus on reading to revise rather than reading to edit, it outlines a “layered” approach and a protocol that invites student writers and their peer readers to take the time to notice, name, point, appreciate, and evaluate what a draft communicates as part of a process that leads to revision. This thoughtful piece would be of value to classroom teachers, study groups and facilitators of professional development programs.



Many of us have asked students to “peer revise” with a rubric or apply an acronym to a draft in an attempt to help them manage the messy process of revision. Or we have simply told students to revise without much direction at all. But, in treating revision as a procedure to complete rather than an opportunity to rethink and reshape writing in community, students become adept at following a set of directions to produce writing in exchange for a grade, and they remain students, not writers. What we have written about here is a layered approach to teaching revision in a community of writers. Throughout this process, students strengthen their ability to read, respond to, and talk about writing as they reread, rethink, and rewrite. Because the common goals of developing a skill or producing a “better” text are subordinated to the collaborative process of inquiry into ideas, students gain a sense of connection to each other as thinkers and writers.

Mazura, Christopher, Jacqueline Rapant, Mary Sawyer. “Teaching Revision as an Act of Voice and Agency.” English Journal 107.3 (2018) 81-86. Copyright ©2018 by the National Council of Teachers of English. Reprinted with permission.