Thursday - ReviMo Classroom Style Day 4 with Meg Miller

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Once I write something, it's hard for me to go back and revise it. My eyeballs don't want to read it and my brain tries to tell me that the story is finished. This doesn't actually work for writing! I make grammar mistakes, part of my story is unclear, my story doesn't flow, or sometimes I need to add detail to add spice to the story.

Fortunately there are some tricks to get a new perspective on a story and jump start revisions! 

Tricks to jumpstart revisions:

1. Read a story you really enjoy, this helps get you into story writing mode.

2. Pretend your story is a movie and watch it in your head. Is it interesting? Does it make sense? Are there some details you can add to make your story more clear?

3. Have someone else read your story out loud. This is a great way to get a fresh perspective on your story!

Happy revising!

Meg Miller is a writer and an artist. She stays at home with her two kids who are 4 and 2 years old. Her husband is an engineer at a car company. They have two chickens, Macaroni and Doris, who each lay an egg a day. A dog who doesn't lay eggs, but likes to herd chickens. :)

Wednesday - ReviMo Classroom Style Day 3 with Lisa Rivard

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I love being a writer. When I can, I stay in my pajamas all day and write. I get my ideas from all over the place.Things will just pop in my head. For example, last week a fairly cute groundhog made its way to my porch. What an adorable little critter! I kept thinking to myself, wouldn't he be cute in a picture book! What could he do? What is his problem? Where could the story take place? Does he have friends or family? My mind just starts to wander and begins to construct a story that I can see in my head. When I have new ideas, I put them in a fish bowl on my desk so that I do not loose the idea in a busy day and then never come back to it. 

But what I have figured out is that writing is a process of discovery. I do not always produce my best stuff when I write my first draft. As I mentioned in the video, I often have to write and then walk away from my piece for awhile. I stuff my pieces in a drawer and save them for the perfect moment to take them out and breathe life into them. It is exciting to revisit pieces with new ideas. 

Recently, my new book was released. It is called Melvin Fargo Writes to Argue and Persuade. With that story, it just came to my head and I made very little changes. But it is a topic that I am very comfortable with. Another story I am working on has taken months to revise. I am constantly changing the characters, the plot, everything! It is just fun to make the changes and see what I can do to make my writing better each day.

Lisa Rivard was raised by her parents in New Baltimore, Michigan, Along with her two sisters. Throughout her life she has enjoyed working with children in many different
capacities including as a teacher, coach, and principal . She earned her degree from Michigan State University and her administration degree from Oakland University. Most recently Lisa completed a PhD in instructional technology from Wayne State University. Currently, Lisa is employed as a Language Arts Consultant and assists regional schools in developing effective literacy plans. It has been Lisa's lifelong dream to become an author of
children's books. For more information about Lisa, please visit her website

Tuesday - ReviMo Classroom Style Day 2 with Jane Feber, Secondary

Monday, April 28, 2014

Teachers and Secondary Students
by Jane Feber

Click here for Elementary Student post!

Writing is not my strong suit; I’m more of a right brain kinda’ gal. I learn most when I am able to apply skills and concepts. Thus the ideas that are in my books are all activities and strategies aimed at engaging students in the learning process.

As with all of the teacher resources I have written, it’s the creative, hands-on activities that are the highlights of each book. Yet the publishers are intent on the front matter – the introduction, rationale behind the book, and the directions on how to use the book.

When I was a contributing author for Pearson, my editor, after reading my first draft, took me out to dinner to discuss my pieces. What I thought was concise, my editor informed me lacked voice. After a long dinner conversation, I was told that I had so much voice in my speaking and needed to learn to transfer this voice to my writing.

At this point I became cognizant of the elements that form good writing. I became more aware of sentence structure. As I read I began looking for introductory elements – participle phrases, subordinate clauses, and prepositional phrases. I began to realize that quite often a short sentence can pack a powerful punch. I learned to better develop my ideas using research as a basis. All of these elements are modeled in good writing by well-know authors. The more I read and became aware of how proficient writers used these elements of good writing, the better I became at using them in my own writing.

I have now authored four books all published by Maupin House/Capstone. I continuously refer to my books as I gather activities to share activities for presenting to teachers. As I read through the front matter in each book, I can see the improvement in my writing style. I learned that the more you read and observe the traits of proficient writing, the better writer you become. Writing is most definitely a recursive process. The more you write, the better writer you become.

As a middle school language arts teacher for 36 years, Jane Feber’s innovative approach to instruction has earned her several awards including the AMLE Distinguished Educator Award, the Gladys Prior Award for Teaching Excellence, Florida Council of Teachers of English Teacher of the Year, Duval County, FL, Teacher of the Year, and the NCTE Edwin A. Hoey Award. Jane was a National Board Certified Teacher and is also the author of Creative Book Reports: Fun Projects with Rubrics for Fiction and Nonfiction, Active Word Play, Student Engagement is FUNdamental, and Engage Striving Students in the Common Core Classroom published by Maupin House/Capstone. You can contact Jane through her website at

Tuesday - ReviMo Classroom Style Day 2 with Jane Feber, Elementary

For Elementary Students
by Jane Feber

Click here for Teachers and Secondary Students post!
Noun/verb, noun/verb. These simple sentences just have to be put to rest! It’s time to teach students, at an early age, how to become more proficient writers. Once students have mastered the basics: end punctuation and writing simple sentences, it’s time to teach them how to acquire a more mature command of the language.

To do this, I begin with word choice. Most all teachers do an activity similar to this. Give students a simple sentence The boy ran and have them rewrite it by changing the verb – The boy sprinted. After doing an activity such as this for a while, show students how to turn a simple sentence The boy ran into a more visual picture by adding more descriptive words and phrases. The boy ran then becomes Upon seeing the bear through the corner of his eye, the boy sprinted through the forest over fallen trees and brushy scrub. Melissa Forney, in her book Razzle Dazzle Writing, has several great activities to help students show not tell.

Another activity to follow this one is to have students create flip books where they begin with a simple sentence then lift the flap of the flip book to embellish the sentence.

Below is how one student embellished the sentence He was depressed about his grades.

-- -- -- -- -- --             -- -- -- -- -- --             -- -- -- -- -- --       

Another activity to assist students with embellishing sentences can be done through a series of mini-lessons. Before the lessons, instruct students to trace their footprint, cut it out, and trace it to create six footprints that they will cut out and number from 1 to 6. You will provide mini-lessons as students embellish their sentence one step at a time.

 For the first mini-lesson, students will write a noun/verb sentence after the mini-lesson on nouns and verbs. Brian P. Cleary’s books A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink: What is a Noun? and To Root, to Toot to Parachute: What is a Verb? can be used to create this mini-lesson. Students will then use footprint #1 to write a noun/verb sentence. For this lesson the noun can be their name. (Jane traveled.)

The second mini-lesson will be taught on adjectives and adverbs. Again Brian P. Cleary’s books, Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What is an Adjective? and Dearly, Nearly, Insincerely: What is an Adverb?, can be used for this lesson. These books can be shown on the document camera to illustrate the use of adjectives and adverbs. Students will then take footprint #2 and rewrite their noun/verb sentence adding an adjective to the noun and an adverb to the verb. (Curious Jane traveled slowly.)

The third mini-lesson will be on prepositional phrases. Brian P. Cleary’s book Under, Over, By the Clover: What is a Preposition? can be used for this lesson. Once students are familiar with prepositional phrases, they will use footprint #3 to add a prepositional phrase to the subject of sentence #2 and a prepositional phrase to the predicate of sentence #2. (In the summer curious Jane traveled slowly across the country.)

Once the three footprints are completed, students will then be taught the comma/conjunction rule and how a comma and a conjunction can be used to form a compound sentence. Again, Brian P. Cleary has a book called But and For, Yet and Nor: What is a Conjunction? that can be used for this lesson. Once students are familiar with how to use a comma and a conjunction to connect two sentences, they will then, on footprint #4, write their previous sentence (#3) and add a comma, conjunction, and a new noun/verb sentence. (In the summer curious Jane traveled slowly across the country, and the car broke.)

Students are now on their own to write footprint #5 where they will add an adjective and an adverb to sentence #3 as they did in sentence #2 and complete footprint #6 by adding the prepositional phrases as they did in sentence #3. You are now reinforcing what was taught previously by having students complete sentences #5 and 6 by themselves. (In the summer curious Jane traveled slowly across the country, and the old car broke down.) (In the summer curious Jane traveled slowly across the country, and in the mountains the old car broke down near a cliff.) This activity allows students to write more mature sentences. This activity can also be used to describe characters in stories, events in history, and processes in science. Example Volcanoes erupt. Shield volcanoes erupt slowly. Shield volcanoes in Hawaii erupt slowly down the mountain. Shield volcanoes in Hawaii erupt slowly down the mountain, and the land changes. Shield volcanoes in Hawaii erupt slowly down the mountain, and the scenic land changes slowly. Shield volcanoes in Hawaii erupt slowly down the mountain, and the scenic land around the volcano changes slowly over time. This activity, Step by Step, can be found in Student Engagement is FUNdamental by Jane Feber published by Maupin House/Capstone.

As a middle school language arts teacher for 36 years, Jane Feber’s innovative approach to instruction has earned her several awards including the AMLE Distinguished Educator Award, the Gladys Prior Award for Teaching Excellence, Florida Council of Teachers of English Teacher of the Year, Duval County, FL, Teacher of the Year, and the NCTE Edwin A. Hoey Award. Jane was a National Board Certified Teacher and is also the author of Creative Book Reports: Fun Projects with Rubrics for Fiction and Nonfiction, Active Word Play, Student Engagement is FUNdamental, and Engage Striving Students in the Common Core Classroom published by Maupin House/Capstone. You can contact Jane through her website at

Monday - ReviMo Classroom Style Day 1 with Dr. Bena Hartman

Thursday, April 24, 2014


by Dr. Bena Hartman

Ever wish you had a ‘do over?’ I mean, if you could turn back the hands of time, what one thing would you do differently? If you’re anything like me, you have lots of things you would like to press rewind and ‘do over.’ Here’s one of mine: I wish I had said, ‘thank you’ to my eighth-grade teacher Mrs. Kukick when she told me: “You’re a wonderful writer.” But instead of saying, ‘thank you,’ like I should have, I brushed the comment off because I didn’t feel like I was—in my heart or in my mind. Little did I know at the time that she had planted the seed of my writing career through those four—simple—words.

Fast forward 10 years and the effect of Mrs. Kukick’s words can be traced in a journal that I kept as a classroom teacher. And eight years later as an assistant professor as I continued writing through the articles I wrote about African American children’s literature.

Although I haven’t taught for quite some time, when I dug deep into myself I heard the echoes of Mrs. Kukick and it was then that her words took full bloom. Because of my passion for learning, both of my books Jasmine Can: Creating Self-Confidence and September’s Big Assignment share a literacy theme and describe protagonists that navigate their way through life as a struggling and reluctant reader. Both books have received awards including: The Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, The Eric Hoffer Montaigne Award, the New York Book Festival Award, and the Purple Dragonfly Award.

The encouraging words uttered by Mrs. Kukick have been reinforced and expressed by others. For example, I’ve had the honor to present abroad in Rize, Turkey, and in the U.S. at places like the Michigan Reading Association Conference and the Keystone State Reading Association Conference in Pennsylvania. I’ve also presented locally and across the country in a host of elementary and middle schools, and at a mix of bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Schuler Books. I am currently working on writing my first novel and write book reviews for the Michigan Reading Journal. With all my various writing projects, keeping my website up to date has turned out to be an ongoing work in progress.

I plan on pressing the pause button to carve out extended periods of time to write summer of 2014. To that end, I’ll close where I began. To Mrs. Kukick, and all other teachers who have labored day in and day out helping students reach their greatest potential in life, thank you and may you continue to stay the course.

Thank you Bena!


Award winning author Bena Hartman was a former classroom teacher in Prince George’s County Maryland, and an assistant professor of reading education at the University of South Florida and University of Pittsburgh. She has several published articles on the use of African American Children’s Literature, and two published children’s books: a picture book called Jasmine Can: Creating Self Confidence, an honorable mention for the Purple Dragonfly Award, and a chapter book entitled September’s Big Assignment—a Gold Medal Winner for the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Montaigne Award for most thought-provoking books of the year, and the New York City Children’s Book Award. Her future projects include a picture book about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have a Dream Speech, and a novel that uses air as the narrator to the story.

Petite ReviMo April Day 2 - Michelle Lynn Senters

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


by Michelle Lynn Senters

I admit it.

Revision is my least favorite part of the writing process. I much prefer to remain in the delicious euphoria of having written the perfect first draft. Can’t I dwell there just a moment longer before I am whisked away into reality?

Thankfully, my critique group is adept at handling the delusional temper tantrum of a 44 year old writer. They appeal to my sensibility and love for words well-written. They pry the manuscript from my clenched fist, take up their pencils, and kill my little darlings. This is all in the name of good literature, of course, and I am better for it.

Nevertheless, after months of revisions and blinding attention to each word and detail, I am left emotionally detached from the story and the characters I once loved. The euphoria is long forgotten and I tire of a story read too often. Divorce is imminent.

At this point of the process, I have two choices. I can succumb to temptation of the garbage can or I can breathe new life into the manuscript. Because I am as stubborn as I am idealogical, I choose the latter and who better to breathe in new life than children?

Dramatic retelling of the "Three Little Pigs"


In the business world, it is unthinkable to introduce a new product or service without market testing and research. Movies, toys, cereal, technology, and thousands of other products are tested by those who represent the intended recipient. Children’s books, however, do not follow this format. Although the intended audience is the child, their opinions are not typically sought after during the writing or publishing process.

After years of teaching, writing, and storytelling, I have come to deeply value the opinions of children. They are painfully honest in terms of likes and dislikes in story and intuitively understand what makes a story magical.

Michelle shares her story, “Stay in Bed, Sleepyhead”. Students act out the 
wind and rain which causes little Tommy Joe to hide beneath the covers.


Find your age-appropriate audience. Read to your children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. Befriend the local librarian and volunteer during story hour. Adopt a public school, daycare, or after-school program and serve as their resident storyteller.

Understand that storytelling is a performing art. It is a skill that gets better with practice. Watch youtube videos of storytellers. Google “storytelling” for comprehensive “how-to” guides. Practice. Start with a published book you know well.

Prepare your manuscript. Pre-published picture book writers must alter their manuscript to help children visualize the story. Add details about the setting, character, and plot that would normally belong to the illustrator. Appeal to the senses as you introduce the characters and set the scene.

Add props and costumes where appropriate. A few select props or costume pieces (scarf, hat) can powerfully illustrate your story. Elaborate costumes or handling too many props will only serve as a distraction. If possible, draw simple pictures on a whiteboard to give the illusion of setting.

Memorize as much of the story as possible. Don’t read the story, tell the story. It is not necessary to memorize the manuscript word for word as the students are not critiquing grammar, stylistic devices, or punctuation.

Become a “Storyteller”. A storyteller serves as an additional character to the story: the Narrator. Use facial expressions and hand gestures. Use different voices for characters. Be purposeful in pacing, pauses, volume, and emphasis to effectively increase tension and bring a satisfying resolution. Observe the listener’s responses and adjust accordingly.

Engage the audience. Encourage students to participate in story, as appropriate. Students may participate as actors or join the storyteller in repetitive or rhythmic lines.

Talk about the story afterwards. Ask questions to determine comprehension and fondness of the story. If you explain you are revising your work and want to make it better, children are more than happy to oblige with honest answers and plentiful suggestions. Did you like the book? Why or why not? Was it interesting? What was your favorite part? Was there anything you didn’t like? Have you ever experienced anything like our character did? What does this story remind you of? What happened in the beginning, middle, and end of the story? Can you imagine this story in a book? What would the illustrations look like? What does the main character look like to you?


Ask yourself the following questions to determine the effectiveness of your story.

Overall engagement
What was the physical response of the children?
What parts were they most engaged?
Were there any parts they appeared distracted?
Did the children “oooh”, “ahhhh”, gasp, and laugh in all the right places?
Did they lean in to listen and watch you with wide eyes?
Did the children seem to like the story?
What were their favorite parts of the story?
Were there any parts they didn’t like?

Response to Character
Did the children identify with the actions and feelings of the main character?
Did they empathize with the character’s struggle?
Did they express relief or joy when the crisis was resolved?
Did the children relate stories of similar experiences after the storytelling?

Understanding of Setting
Could the children explain the setting if asked?

How was the pacing?
Were there any parts that felt too fast or went to slow?
Did anticipation build to keep the children engaged?
Did the children have a physical/emotional response to the climax and resolution of the story?
Did the students express confusion at any point?
How did the students respond to the conclusion of the story? Spontaneous clapping? Silence? Confusion if it was the end? A request to tell it again?

Your Response
How did you feel about your manuscript before the storytelling experience?
How do you feel about your manuscript afterwards?
What went well?
Is there anything you would do differently (re: storytelling) next time?
Is there anything about your manuscript you plan to change after this experience?
What was your favorite part of the day?


You are more than a writer. You are a storyteller. Dust off your pre-published manuscripts and put them in front of children. The experience will not only inform your writing, it will breathe new life into your story. More importantly, it will breathe new life into you.

Thank you Michelle!

Michelle Lynn Senters is a writer, speaker, and teacher. She is the founder of and Arise Ministries for Single Mothers. She holds a BA in Elementary Education and a MA in Integrated Teaching Through the Arts. Learn more about Michelle and her thoughts on faith, life, writing, and kid-lit at  

Petite ReviMo April Day 1 with Angie Karcher

Monday, April 14, 2014

Hello ReviMoers!
RhyPiBoMo is in full swing and together, we have focused on the poetry connection to writing rhyming picture books and how rhythm and rhyme enhances our writing. Now, it’s time to focus on the picture book part and revision is the key, especially in a rhyming book.

Meg has done a great job of sharing all the important components of revision. I personally think that writing a rhyming picture book is one of the most difficult things a writer will ever do, if done well! So, it makes sense that revising a RPB will be more intense, more difficult and more rewarding when complete!

You have all your usual necessities, as with revising any picture add in some new rhyming antics and that check list of what to do is growing by the minute.

I created a friendly, colorful, Post-it graphic to help you get started. I thought it might look less daunting this way. There are lots and lots of revision check lists out there but I never seem to follow the list in order.  My graphic is quite a bit less rigid, but it should still get you where you want to go!
Click to enlarge, print and/or save!

Start at the top left of the board, and work your way down and over to the bottom right…
The Orange Post-its are significant because these involve rhyme and poetry revisions.
You must do everything you always do when revising! No exceptions!

But now, you get to add in the orange Post-its too...Those orange Post-its will begin to transform your manuscript into glorious shades of golden, lyrical voice, hues of yellow, rhythmic meter and brilliant, burgundy rhyme. When it begins to glow perfection like a late, fall sunset then, and only then, may you sit a while and reflect proudly at all you have created.
Then have it critiqued again! Ha! Ha! Thought you were done didn’t you!
Thank you Angie! Happy revising everyone!