If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I think taking a break between drafts is a critically important part of my writing process. I’ve written about it here and here.
I discuss this important step every time I present the school visit program Creating Nonfiction: Researching, Writing, and Revising. I’ve given this talk many times over the years, updating it as I develop a better understanding of how I work and how I can best explain the process to young writers.
Recently, many teachers have told me they really like the Let It Chill Out part of my presentation and that it has made them re-think how they ask their students to revise. They’ve come up with lots of great ideas—letting manuscripts chill out during lunch and recess or over the weekend or even during a school break.
The best idea of all came from the fourth-grade teaching team at Kennedy Elementary School in Billerica, MA. As the teachers listened to me describe the 10-year process of revising No Monkeys, No Chocolate, they hatched a plan for a whole-school project I love.
This year, the first graders will write a piece of nonfiction. Next year, when the students are in second grade, teachers will share the No Monkeys, No Chocolate and Can an Aardvark Bark? revision timelines on my website and ask the children to revise the piece they wrote in first grade.
Good idea, right? But it gets even better. Both drafts will be placed in a folder, and the students will revise the piece again in third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Wow!
Imagine how different the final piece will be from the original. It will allow children to see tangible evidence of their growth as writers and give them a true sense of how long it can take to write a book.