The Revision That Was 10 Years Coming

“MPO it!” the class echoed back at me, grinning.

For the first time in ten years, I found a revision strategy that my students understood and seemed engaged in.

Victory filled the air.

Years ago, I attended a conference that author Michael Patrick O’Neill spoke at.

He suggested that students learn to write stories using his “formula” targeting readers with short attention spans.

At the start of our narrative unit, I asked students to write stories with a clear beginning, middle and end.

Then, they re-wrote them using the Michael Patrick O’Neill formula.

As described in the slide, students re-wrote their essays so that they begin with the climax. (I hinted that using dialogue or imagery is a great way to do this.)


Then, they explained the context, added a “so what?” and explained how things wrapped up.

I showed the kids some models of how I re-wrote blog posts using the MPO strategy, and they were instantly able to see the effect of this strategy.

One kid did ask, “Why didn’t we just start writing the essay this way?”

“You couldn’t! How would you have known what the climax was? Or what happened at the beginning or end? Instead of writing a new story, just grab the good stuff from an earlier draft.”

“Duh!” a classmate rolled their eyes.

This English teacher is having a glass of wine to celebrate some successful revisions, and helping kids learn the difference between revising and editing. WAHOO!




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