Writing "Editing" Teaching Ideas and Strategies that Work!

One of the greatest dilemmas I faced as an elementary teacher involved "Writer's Workshop."  I was introduced to the concept in the 1980's so it certainly wasn't a "new" idea and I was just as intrigued by it then as I am now.  

The "Writer's Workshop"  instructional videos were fascinating with the perfectly well-behaved students who raised their hands like well trained soldiers, the well-dressed teacher with the hair that didn't move and the writing stations that were organized perfectly.  They were one step short of an Oscar Winning Documentary production.  In all actuality the videos were kind of depressing, but regardless, they were a great example of the foundation of the writing process and something to strive for.

Whereas, with severe modifications; my writing classes somewhat resembled a traditional writer's workshops, they were my "Writer's Workshop" adapted to meet the needs of the students in my classroom using strategies that best worked for my students.  Whereas, I spent most of my teaching years in Title One schools, I had a large population of reluctant writers and therefore, I needed to do use strategies that "worked" as the stakes were even higher.  But the rewards of modifying for my students were worth it. My students, I might add, were always on their writing game.  

The "editing" aspect presented with the traditional Writing Process always threw me for a loop.  I had students who could read their own same paper three times and not recognize their own grammatical, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization errors three times. Then I was supposed to have that same student "peer" edit another student's paper.  "Houston, we have a problem!"  Not only, was it unreasonable to expect all students to be able to edit each other's work who lacked the skill set to do so, but most of my student's compositions were difficult to read.  Some students simply don't possess great handwriting skills, many nights I felt like a detective more than a teacher solving clues to solve their penmanship. Of course I had the students who could "edit" student work perfectly well, but being a "differentiation" advocate that I am, I certainly believed I owed that student better instructional time than correcting and revising other's work all day.

Editing is a skill that requires many prerequisite skills, and hitting all of those grammar, spelling, punctuation and other language proficient skills hard is mandatory.   Through consistent modeling, writing immersion and feedback some students will become solid writers with great editing skills.  Others as we know, will need much more individualized work.

We always started our workshops out with a game that we called "Find 10".  I created paragraphs or short passages and purposely created ten editing errors that needed to be found in each passage.  The students love it, and were quite competitive I might add. During the first part of the year the I placed the passages on the computer screen with the document camera and the class found the editing errors together.  As we approached "crunch time" the students glued the passages to their writers notebook and completed them individually.  However, making the passages everyday was a tremendous amount of work and hopefully I've saved you some time.  I have compiled seventy-five short passages and paragraphs into one resource called, "Find Ten, Editing Skills Practice" and you can purchase that resource HERE in my TPT store.

For a sample of this resource to use "write" away in your classroom, click HERE!

Other ways I practiced "editing" in my classroom:

1. It is important for students to be able to recognize the difference between "revising" and "editing" and other individual language skills.  I would set up six different stations in the classroom several times throughout the year:
Indenting and Paragraph Division
At each station I would place a passage that needed capitalization editing, grammar editing, divided into paragraphs or simply revised.  I divided the class into five groups and they would work together in each station and edit or revise.

2. I saved my "readable" student rough draft compositions each year and the following year used them as whole class "editing and revising" activities. Of course I hid their names.

3. To save a large amount of marks on a student's rough draft, I would place a "star" before a sentence that had an editing mistake.  By finding the error themselves, they were much less likely to make that mistake again.

4. "Caught'ya! Grammar with a Giggle for Middle School: Giggles in the Middle" by Jane Bell Kiester is a wonderful novel and contains stories and activities that focus on editing and proofreading skills, as well as vocabulary.  It worked perfectly with my "Find 10" resource above.

5. I have also created a "Monthly Editing Task Cards" resource.  Twenty extensive task cards are included for every month of the year.  The task cards focus on monthly "themed" famous birthday biographies, famous monthly dates in history and fun monthly holidays.  The students not only receive a short social studies lesson, but editing practice as well on each card.  The months can be purchased altogether HERE or they may be purchased separately.

6. I've also created an "Editing Test-Prep" resource, with practice editing test and editing activities.  You may purchase this resource HERE!  This resource is aligned to the 4th Grade Texas STAAR TEKS, but would be great practice for any writing curriculum.