Asking students to add details to their writing often causes frustration–for the students and for the teacher. They don’t want to add more. And they feel like they can’t because there’s no more room on the paper. Aha! It’s time to introduce story surgery.

Make Revision Fun!

Story surgery is more than simply inserting an additional word or phrase here or there. It’s a step-by-step strategy that allows students to cut open their drafts and mess with the guts, adding large chunks or “organs” to a piece. (NOTE: Story surgery requires that students write on only one side of their papers.)

  1. Students identify a place in their drafts where they could add several consecutive sentences.
  2. Once students determine where they can add more, they cut their papers apart, opening up the area.
  3. On a separate half-sheet of paper, students write the new sentences.
  4. Then, they tape this new “organ” in between the two parts of the original draft.

This tool appeals to your kinesthetic learners–and to everyone who thought writing was boring. Cutting with scissors and using tape is fun! Adding an “organ” to their writing is funny. It’s a great way to hook your struggling writers.

Phony Bologna Liver--For Story SurgeryWould you like to have every students’ attention during this mini-lesson? Use a phony-bologna liver as the trigger, and you’ll have students talking about it after school! Lori Medjeski (Brownsburg Writing Coach, Brownsburg, IN) recently found fake organs in the Halloween section of a Dollar Tree! What a great toy to add to your writing tools and triggers! Kids will never forget it!

Encourage your writers to add an organ (or two) to their writing. (Click here for a PDF on story surgery and spider legs–two great revision strategies.)

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