Archive for the ‘Language Arts’ Category

Facilitating Play with Words: More Wacky Revision

More Wacky Revision

Dear Julie,

My kids and I have not had any experience with utilizing Brave Writer materials in the past, so I decided [your Wacky Revision workshop] would be a fun experiment for us all. It is always exciting to approach writing in new ways and learn new techniques for Re-Vision (I liked your word), or seeing our words through new eyes.

The kids cut and stapled their freewrites last night, and wrote new versions from those cut up lines this morning. I’ve copied them below, since the kids were excited to hear that you wanted to read their results.

Emma, age 8


I got out the game while my sister told me which game to get. We picked the color of our pieces and began to play. I went first and I drew a double purple. My sister went next and got a single orange. A little while later, one of my other siblings who was not playing accidentally knocked over the deck of cards. Then I got mad and chased him. When we got back to playing I was winning but I drew a card that said I had to go backward! After a few more turns, I lost.

Wacky ReVision

My sister and I picked the siblings who were not playing to knock over the deck of cards. Then I colored our pieces and began to play. I went first and I drew a double purple. Then my sister got mad and tackled me and we had a “lovely” wrestling match. After a few more turns, I lost. A little while later, one of my other sisters wanted to play…

Haha! Love that change! I’d love to see a “lovely” wrestling match! Wonder what that would look like! Have you thought about it? I’d love to read a description if you think of one. So funny! Now I’m wondering if the two of you will have a lovely wrestling match! Such a fun piece! Thanks for sending it to me! —Julie

Joshua, age 10


When I got the game out, I tripped over a sibling. Emma and I rolled to see who would go first. I went first so Emma placed her settlements first. When I rolled, I got an 8. After a while I had 4 victory points left. I bought 2 cities which boosted me to 8 victory points. Next turn I bought a road to make my road 5 segments long. I got the longest road card and won. Emma demanded a rematch, so we played again. We had excellent settlement placements so the game took a lot longer. Eventually I won again. We have a fun time playing Settlers of Catan.

Wacky ReVision

Emma and I rolled to see who would boost me to 8 victory points. I bought a road to make my road 5 segments long. Eventually I won. We played again. I got the longest road card. I won again. Emma demanded another rematch, so we decided who would go first. I went first so Emma placed her settlements first. When I rolled, I wanted to go again. We had excellent settlement placements so the game took a lot of time. Eventually, I had only 4 victory points, while Emma had 7. I bought 2 cities which gave me more resources. I won for the 3rd straight time. It was much closer.

Nice twist! That your opponent through a roll might boost your score! Inventive, right? And who doesn’t want to go again after rolling? Too funny! And true! Very good! Though I’m wondering now how you won with fewer points! That’s what’s funny about the scramble! Enjoyed this very much. Thanks for sharing it with me! —Julie

While this technique was delightful in a freewrite narrative format, it seems counterproductive if one had written a more logical or non-fiction piece. Is that true, or do you still use a similar wacky revision exercise? My son in particular usually likes things in their proper place and all very regimented!

Thanks again for facilitating our play with words!


Wacky Revision only teaches the technique of revision—that is, looking at the writing closely and making changes. Each of the techniques I showed you cause kids to engage in revision (to look at the words and reconsider what’s there). We are drawing with big crayons on a big sheet of paper without lines! This is the chance to explore what it feels like to look at your own writing and consider that it is not in finished form. It also allows kids to make connections they wouldn’t be able to see without the techniques. So they get to see what happens when you rearrange order, or contradict a commonly held belief, or add a new element, or change the tone of voice. All of these have real world value in more careful revision practices. But most kids don’t want to do revision! It’s too subtle and it feels like a violation of their original intent.

To help them over that hurdle, sometimes it’s good to simply play with the language and see how that feels (what new discoveries can be made!).

Then, as I shared in the workshop, you might try the serious revision practices for another piece. You might see how it goes to be intentional about adding an opening hook or expanding the writing for a couple of elements or revising a certain repeating term. You could also play with the wacky methods too and see what emerges.

Revision isn’t only about systematizing the content. It is about bringing power into the writing. Both styles of revision help to get you there. 🙂 —Julie

Free Writing Workshop: Wacky Revision

Revision Tactic: Change the Order

Revision Tactic: Change the Order

Brave Writer mom Jane sent us her 17-year-old son’s rewrite using the Wacky Revision Tactic of changing the order.  We are so impressed!

Here’s the original freewrite:

Today I fixed my IPad that was having problems since I forgot my password and locked myself out of the IPad so we had to go on ITunes to fix it first I connected the IPad second I logged into ITunes Third I turned on the IPad so it could connect to the Computer after that it was a matter of waiting until it was finished restoring everything after that it was just putting in the information in so I could access the IPad after that Wala I know could use my IPad that took about two days of fixing

And here’s his awesome rewrite:

Finally! After such a long time, I am able to access my iPad. Before this happened, I had just gotten the iPad all brand new and shiny. Then, I followed the instructions to start it, but the one thing that messed me up was forgetting the 4 digit passcode. Since I made that mistake, I tried searching on Google to see if other people had this problem happen to them, but there was very little information about it, and if there was, it was usually for the new iPad 2. So, my sister tried going onto iTunes and downloading all the information it lost back on to it, but after several tries, it didn’t work. So, I tried the same process on my computer, and it worked! After half an hour of waiting, I finally got the information back into the IPad and wrote down my 4-digit passcode so I could remember if I forgot it again.

Great job! You can really hear his voice in this! Helping a young person establish his or her voice is one of the first steps toward quality writing, and trying a wacky revision tactic can be a useful tool for unleashing that unique inner perspective.

You can still do the writing workshop with your kids if you missed it live.
Click on the image below for details!

Free Writing Workshop: Wacky Revision

Revision: Creating a New Lens

Revision: Creating a new lens

When we use “wacky revision” tactics, we sometimes stumble upon a truth that was hidden from view in the usual order of things. One of the pieces below, written by Sofia, is a great example! Her original freewrite was about how to perform on stage. We’ve all read articles and paragraphs that teach us a set of principles to put into practice. Even when they are clear and well articulated, we may still glaze over due to information overload.

In this case, Sofia applied the wacky revision tactic of turning everything around into a lie. Unwittingly, she stumbled upon irony and humor! By framing the notion of how to perform on stage through the lens of lies, she set up a paragraph that mocks performance! Because of that mockery, the reader is thrust into complexity—turning the writing around to a positive in the imagination. Humor holds our attention, and the principles become apparent through negation. We see this online all the time. Some of the best articles about politics, for instance, make fun of politics. We remember them for their denying power and the humor they evoke.

Wacky revision tactics are not just about play. They are about generating insight, too. Stay alert for those brilliant moments that pop through the writing when it is conceived through a new lens.



Hi Julie!

Here is the writing from the writing workshop. The first piece is from my son, Judah (age 9). He had followed the freewrite prompt you suggested encouraging them to tell about an ordinary event, and he chose his morning routine:

I wake up in the morning and at 7:00 I get out of bed and go to my living room. I say hello to my dad and he makes breakfast and I eat it all up. After I do that I go and get dressed. Then I go and comb my hair and brush my teeth. After I do that I play Legos until mom says it’s time for school.

Here it is after the Scramble [revision technique]:

I wake up in the morning and at 7:00 I get out of bed and go to my living room to brush my teeth. After I do that I play Legos until mom says it’s time for me to go to my room. I say hello to my dad and he makes breakfast and I eat it all up. Time for school. After I do that I go and get dressed. Then I go and comb my hair.

He added words and punctuation here and there, like you suggested, to make the transition from line to line sound intentional. And now that I am thinking about it, he found that process really amusing. ?

The next piece is by my daughter, Sofia (age 7). It is a previous freewrite she wrote after she was in a play. I had asked her what advice she would give to a new actor and this was her response:

If you are new to the stage, you need to do your best. Smile big. You might not get the part you want, so be ready to do whatever the director tells you to do. Use your imagination. Acting on stage is tiring so get good rest before your show. You might fall down or go on the wrong side of the stage or forget a line, but just go on and keep acting no matter what. Skip to the next line that you know. Even if you don’t get the part you wanted, acting is really fun. I didn’t get the part I wanted and it was really fun for me!

She was really amused by your revision technique about “lying,” so we went over the piece doing just that:

If you are new to the stage, don’t give it your all. Do not smile, but just relax your face. You are going to get the part you want anyway. Don’t listen to the director, but do whatever you want. Do not use your imagination, but instead act mad. Acting on stage is no big deal, so you don’t need to get good rest before your show. Nothing will ever go wrong, but if it does, start crying and quit the play. Even when you get the part you want, acting is not fun! I got the part I wanted and it was boring!

We had a fun conversation about why someone might give this bad advice to a new actor and decided that it might be given to an actor who is auditioning for the same role as the advice-giver! That could be an interesting story to write in the future, and one she would not have thought of otherwise, so we were able to see the benefit of that revision tactic.

Lastly, I really like the concept that revision is “re-vision”….seeing again the piece of writing and giving it a new spin. I hadn’t thought much about editing being separate from revision, so I appreciated the clarification.

Thank you again for the writing workshop!!


Free Writing Workshop: Wacky Revision

FREE Wacky Revision Tactics Workshop!

FREE Wacky Revision Workshop Replay

If you didn’t catch the live workshop you can still participate!
(Scroll down for more info)

Whew! What a great Writing Workshop! We had 673 phones and computers tuned in, and we easily had over 1000 kids and parents participating. A great time was had by all!

I focused on the cranky process of revision. I introduced two revision styles:

  • Wacky Revision Tactics
  • Serious Revision Tactics

Kids clipped and glued and revised on the spot and then had lots of inspiration for new strategies to try once the workshop ended. The flood of positive feedback following the workshop is still coming!

We’re looking forward to holding other free workshops. For now, you can watch the replay (below) and get just as much benefit!

Check out some of the photos and comments from the workshop:

Writing Workshop Wednesday: Revision

The girls are excited to be a part of Julie’s revision scope!! ~Jennifer

Writing Workshop Wednesday: Revision

Loving the scope! ~Jodi

Writing Workshop Wednesday: Revision

What my kitchen table now looks like.

Thanks Julie Sweeney. My son took that boring little list he wrote, and is now imagining George Washington playing Minecraft in his underwear, but that was just his dream before he woke up. My daughter is telling a story about walking her cat to a sweet shop. And my 8 year old is imagining his dog cooking him breakfast. I’d say they had fun. I’m going to have to watch replay and take notes.


Writing Workshop Wednesday: Revision

Julie, I watched your workshop with my homeschooling girls and we all enjoyed it. They each had two pieces of writing that they worked on one as the wacky Scramble for the free write and then took Thanksgiving papers and one chose the Lie option (6th grader) and the other chose to add dialog and add a couple of elements they had left out (8th grader).

Thanks for doing these periscopes and this workshop! I don’t have a phone to follow you on so we can’t comment but we do enjoy watching the scopes in real time (or on Katch when we miss) and feel a part of things.

My daughter, Ivy, was verbally responding to you a ton and wished she could type in comments or give you hearts. She also liked reading some of the other responses. My journal is filling up with notes from your talks!


Missed the live workshop? No problem!

GRAB your FREE Revision Guide HERE.

Do the prep work then watch the replay with your kids!

For a full four week course, check out our Groovy Grammar Workshop!

Groovy Grammar

Writing Workshop Wednesday is TOMORROW!

Writing Workshop Wednesday

Periscope is off the chains! We have 2000 followers already.

As a thank you for all that love, I’m giving a FREE Writing Workshop for your kids. We’ll tackle the tricky processes of revision. I promise to stand the whole notion of revision on its head so that it stops being a cranky process and turns into play.

You’ll need writing (by your kids) already written to revise so I’ve prepared a FREE guide for you to use with your kids. The preparatory writing will take about 5-10 minutes. Promise! Then you will type it up in a special way and you’ll all be ready to rock ‘n roll.

Tell your friends! This workshop is a great introduction to how Brave Writer sees writing and teaches it!

Download the Guide
so your kids can prepare!

The LIVE Writing Workshop is via
Periscope on Wednesday December 2, at 4:00 PM EST.