Revision Stations: An alternative approach to peer review

Summary: In this engaged activity, students review some vocabulary for describing the writing process, then break into small groups for self-directed learning at multiple revision stations.

If possible, students move to different spaces around the classroom (or surrounding space) where the instructor sets up each “station” with revision tasks, experimenting with different approaches to revision to help students identify a task to continue individually outside of the class. This activity draws on process pedagogy.

Time: 30+ minutes (easily adapted for up to 90 minutes by extending the time students spend at each station)

Audience: This is designed for undergraduate college students but could work with a community class, high school students, or community college students

Learning Objective: By actively engaging in the work of today’s lesson, your goal is to be able to:

  • Articulate the role of global revision in a creative writing process
  • Identify a productive next step in your revision process and express why it may be valuable.

What is revision? (10 min.)

The author Matthew Salesses said in a series about revision for the literary journal Pleiades that:

I have found that, for all the talk about revision, most courses are really focused on critique (that is, workshop) and writing exercises. Both of which nod toward revision, but neither of which necessarily get into the nitty gritty of what actual revision looks like–though there are usually a few exercises in the course that do. One of the most common things I hear from students is: ‘Everyone talks about revision, but no one has ever taught me how to revise.’

Global Revision v. Local Revision

  • Local revision: revision that impacts one or two sentences
  • Global revision:
    • Big picture considerations like structure, plot, characterization, point of view.
    • Global revision involves the big picture of your draft; it relates to large elements like structure, ideas, purpose, audience, evidence, analysis, and organization.

Revision Stations (30 min.)

Instructors: Tailor the specific activity directions for each revision station to the task and learning goals. Below are adaptable examples. Write the directions on a piece of paper and leave them at the station for each group to find.

First: Break into small groups

Divide into groups of 3-4. Each student will assume a role (A, B, C) described below. Multiple students can share each role in larger groups.

Classmate A: set your timer for 6-10 minutes at each station. Provide a reminder to your group.

Classmate B: read directions and ask if anyone has questions in your group, see if you can help.

Classmate C: As your group transitions from one station to the next, ask your classmates if they’ve identified anything they want to try in in their revision process.

Second: Review directions

Directions: Move through 3 mini stations to try approaches to reflection in small groups.

  • Station 1: Local Revision: Find one thing to: Add, change, move, delete. Repeat again if you finish.
  • Station 2: Global Revision: Create a backwards outline of your draft by writing the main ideas or developments of each paragraph in the margins. Then, using just the “skeletal outline” you’ve created in the margins, create a drawing that represents the structure of your piece of writing. Reflect on what you see. Does the structure work in the way you want it to?
  • Station 3: Interview a classmate and reflect on your process. Ask a peer the following questions, then switch to become the interviewee:
    • Describe what you’re writing. What are the main ideas or questions you want a reader to be considering after they finish reading?
    • What has gone well in your writing process so far? Why?

Third: Move through stations

Instructors: Set a time to help students move through stations. 15 minutes each is a good starting point, depending on the tasks.

Debrief: What did you notice about your writing process?

Reflect on what you found valuable in the stations. Design a revision task assignment for yourself.

Exit Ticket Directions:

On a notecard, fill in the blanks.

  1. One global element I want to focus on in revision is:______
  2. A revision strategy I will try is: _____

One Thousand Wednesdays

A new blog about the comfort women issue

I’m working to get a separate blog up and running dedicated to sharing the research I do about the issue of comfort women and comfort stations. It’ll be called One Thousand Wednesdays. While I get things up and running, I’ll share my first posts here. 

I can’t say when I learned for the first time about the issue of the comfort women, but I remember that I felt stunned.

An elderly Korean woman, one of the comfort women, signing

It was 2009, and months after graduating from college in Minnesota I had moved to South Korea to teach English in a Seoul suburb. Somewhere in those early months I encountered the story of comfort stations and the girls who endured them. I simply could not comprehend that before and during World War II, thousands of girls across Asia had been coerced into sexual slavery by Imperial Japan. I couldn’t believe that this massive system of institutionalized rape had once been maintained at the highest levels of the Japanese Empire’s military and government. I couldn’t conceive that girls and young women had been presented to troops as an amenity whose bodies they were entitled to use and plunder for their own relief. And most of all, I couldn’t imagine the lived reality of those young girls and women who endured such inhumane violence day after day, without any idea if it would end. Continue reading “One Thousand Wednesdays”

Today I Noticed the Begonia Blooming

When Greg and I moved into our new apartment last summer—an English basement on D.C.’s Rock Creek Park—it was the first place we’d ever lived together that had a yard.


I often track the years of our history together with the apartments we’ve shared—five so far. This was our sixth. We met in our final months of college, drawn together by the Midwestern towns we grew up in, and our intentions to leave them. Our conversations about everywhere we might live felt electric. Continue reading “Today I Noticed the Begonia Blooming”

Today I Noticed Trees Filled With Holes

At first I didn’t realize it was a woodpecker making all that noise.

When I heard the tap-tap-tapping sound overhead I didn’t give it much attention. I assumed our landlord must be home, and that the footfall of her shoes was descending through the ceiling. Continue reading “Today I Noticed Trees Filled With Holes”

Cleaver Magazine Publication, Pt. II

As I shared yesterday, my essay “Fragile Bodies” was included in the latest issue of Cleaver Magazine. I wrote this essay a while ago, and while I’ve chipped away at it every now and then, it has spent most of its life sitting dormant in an overlooked file. After reviving this essay a month or so ago, I was thrilled to see it find such a wonderful home, alongside so many great authors. If you don’t know Cleaver Magazine, it’s a gem to explore. They’re a quarterly that publishes an eclectic mix of prose, poetry, shorts, and visual art ranging from photography to graphic narratives. There’s a big team behind their site, and many have ties to the Philadelphia lit. scene. They also make it a priority to feature emerging artists, which I didn’t realize when I was submitting, but wish I had. Continue reading “Cleaver Magazine Publication, Pt. II”

“Fragile Bodies” Published in Cleaver Magazine

A person holding a baby chicken.

I am thrilled to have an essay, “Fragile Bodies,” in the newest issue of Cleaver Magazine, which went live today. It’s a short, lyric piece of nonfiction about the time I spent working on an organic chicken farm in Florida. The essay tells the story of a box of baby chickens we picked up at the town’s local post office, and the days those chicks spent getting settled in and trying to survive. When I wrote it my thoughts were occupied with questions about acceptance, cruelty, and life’s many cycles.

Oh, and chickens. I was trying to make sense of them too, as is evident in the essay.

(I didn’t get very far. So if you are seeking answers to some pressing bird questions, or just want to see where you might order an assortment of Silkie Bantams, don’t fret: Sites like this exist.)

Here’s an excerpt of “Fragile Bodies” from Cleaver Magazine:

Rosa stands in the coop’s doorway holding a baby chicken in each of her hands. One of the birds is dying. The other is dead. We might have overlooked the body in the bed of wood shavings covering the ground if it hadn’t been encircled by a dozen other chicks, their feathers warm under the amber light of heat lamps. Yesterday it was an alive, palm-sized animal, toddling around on legs like twigs. Now the body is badly decomposed, everything but the beak flattened, the eye sockets pecked clean.

It’s June in Florida. The sun is just rising over the panhandle farm. In this heat, it doesn’t take long for a body to break down. Everything seems to droop and sag.

Anoche pasado,” Rosa says with a resolved tone, holding up the deflated body. “Problamente,” I agree. As if I know…

To read the rest of “Fragile Bodies” in Cleaver, click here.

To make your way through the Table of Contents for Issue 9 checking out the other work, which I plan to do tonight, click here.