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The Teacher Tip

Revising for Variety

June 26, 2018

Adapted from Teaching Nonfiction Revision by Sneed B. Collard III & Vicki Spandel.


Have students review their current drafts, checking specifically for sentence variety within paragraphs. Encourage them to read aloud, looking and listening for two things:


  1. Repetitious sentence structure or patterns, and
  2. Monotonous similarity in length.


Students can vary structure by changing the ways in which they begin sentences and by inserting an occasional command or question. They can vary length by combining sentences, cutting long or hard-to-follow sentences in two, and using an occasional very short sentence—or even a fragment, if it’s effective. Be sure they read their revisions aloud, and take time to discuss differences they hear. It is especially helpful for the whole class to hear and discuss “before” and “after” versions of one or two pieces.


To learn more about Teaching Nonfiction Revision and to download a sample chapter, visit

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