Reviewing: Making Changes in Writing with Technology

By: Judy Zorfass, Tracy Gray, and PowerUp WHAT WORKS


Once students have completed the prewriting and drafting phases of the writing process, they move on to reviewing and revising their work. This involves making changes to their writing to make sure it meets the needs of their readers. During this phase, students learn about the 'craft' of writing, review their content for clarity, and make deliberate changes in order to improve the piece. Good writers review and rewrite many times in order to make their work more convincing, informative, and/or interesting. While research shows that most students edit for conventions and format (with a focus on grammar and spelling), the reviewing phase must combine revising and editing. This slide outlines how the reviewing process can help students, especially those who are struggling writers.

To be college and career ready, students must be effective writers—that is, writers who are able to clearly communicate their ideas for a purpose. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts (ELA) emphasize that it is important to teach students to write in all subjects, to use writing as a way to teach content, and to integrate technology into the process. The following standards outline that students can demonstrate improved writing skills through their use of language, their incorporation of more sophisticated content, and their development and organization of ideas:

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.5
    Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.6
    Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.10
    Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Technology Enhanced Teaching Strategies

Using technology to support differentiated instruction can help students edit text, improve flow, and clarify meaning. Teach revising and editing strategies using mnemonics such as ARMS (add, remove, move, substitute) and online tools. Embed prompting questions (e.g., 'Did you include a main idea?') into student drafts using QR codes. Model real-world examples of how published authors revise and edit by using podcasts and videos.

It is also helpful to teach students to collaborate as writers through peer editing and revising. You can create videos or audios of peer discussions and student conferences that students can refer to later when they are revising their work. On your class website or blog, post examples of strong texts that demonstrate the key features of good writing, such as strong dialogue and varied sentence structure.

Engage students in ongoing assessment through student-teacher conferences. Review writing samples and other digital portfolio materials that the students have collected over time.

Use Author's Chair to give students a chance to share their writing with their classmates. After modeling and providing sample language, use a video camera and a microphone to record the presentations and students' feedback. Blogs and wikis are an excellent way to help students improve their revision skills, as the video 'Blogs and Wikis' explains.

In the Classroom

Mrs. Nupak's Grade 6 class—which consists of 24 students with diverse needs—is studying Ancient Greece and reviewing drafts that compare and contrast life in Athens and Sparta. Students have been using online tools to develop content and they will present their ideas in a multimedia format as a final project. Mrs. Nupak is planning an upcoming lesson with a specific objective: Revise and edit the first draft of the compare/contrast writing assignment. This objective closely aligns with three ELA Common Core State Standards:

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.6.2
    Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.6.5
    Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.1
    Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

Mrs. Nupak regularly integrates technology into her curriculum. For this lesson, she will use online resources to access digital tools for revising and editing; tablets to view draft paragraphs; and multimedia applications to record peer conferences. A document camera and an interactive whiteboard will be used to demonstrate and model revision strategies. In addition, she will introduce digital portfolios, which will be used for ongoing formative assessment and self-reflection. This tool will also support peer conferences. Students will use online revision and editing checklists for self-assessment.

Online Teacher Resources

This article draws from the PowerUp WHAT WORKS website, particularly the Reviewing Instructional Strategy Guide. PowerUp is a free, teacher-friendly website that requires no log in or registration. The Instructional Strategy Guide on reviewing includes a brief overview that defines reviewing skills along with an accompanying slide show; a list of the relevant ELA Common Core State Standards; evidence-based strategies for teaching reviewing skills using technology; short videos; and links to resources that will help you use technology to support your teaching. You can also check out the section on formative assessment to explore the strategies. If you are responsible for professional development, check out the PowerUp Your Professional Development for helpful ideas and materials for using the reviewing resources. Want more information? Check out PowerUp WHATWORKS.

Judy Zorfass, Tracy Gray, and PowerUp WHAT WORKS (2015)