What Ever Happened to The Editing Process?

What Happened to the Editing Process? Is it just me, or are kids these days being asked to pump out a ton of writing each month? Writing is not about quantity, it is about quality. There are different types of writing exercises that teachers can work on with students such as: the free write, the quick write, writing in response to literature, writing in response to a prompt, genre writing and more! While quick-writes can be a great way to produce a small amount of writing each day, it is also important to be sure that students have ample opportunities to take their work through the editing process.

Why Teach Editing and Revision? Editing and revising a piece of original writing can be frustrating at times but it is always gratifying in the end. There is a sense of pride when you feel like you’ve really fleshed something out and given it your all! Too often, children spend time writing and then put their work into the depths of their writing folder. What happens to those stories? Do they ever come out of the folder again?

There are important lessons about work ethic, persistance and patience naturally embedded in editing and revision. If we do not teach our students to use the process of reflection to strengthen their work, then we are not encouraging them to reach their potential. No one does their best work on their first try! We can always benefit from re-reading our work, catching errors or deciding to eliminate or expand certain parts.

How to Incorporate Editing and Revision Into Your Classroom? If you want to incorporate editing and revision into your classroom but you just aren’t sure how, try this! When you plan out your writing unit, leave an extra 3-5 days at the end of the unit to  teach your students to edit and revise. In any given unit, students produce multiple pieces of work. The first step to editing is to choose your piece. Here is a suggested 4-Day plan for giving your students time to practice editing and revising their work.

Day 1: Choosing a Piece! Students scan through the pieces in their folder and decide on which piece they want to edit. It can be a favorite piece or a piece that demonstrates strong writing skills. If a student is struggling to identify their piece, have them work with a partner to narrow down their options. 

Day 2: Editing! Choose a few focal points and develop a simple checklist that students can use, then model how to use it. For example, maybe you want to work on spelling, punctuation and word omissions. Give students a copy of the checklist and let them edit their own piece.

Day 3: Revision! Choose a few focal points and develop a simple checklist that students can use, then model how to use it. For example, maybe you want to have students work on sequencing, making sure the writing matches the task and adding details to strengthen their work. Give students a copy of the checklist and let them revise their own piece.

Day 4: Peer Editing and Revision! Pair up students or create peer groups so that students can use the same checklists from Days 2 and 3 to work through a peer’s piece. I always like to create feedback sheets or use post-its to be sure that students are helping each other in a more meaningful way.

Remember, the most effective way to teach writing is to make sure you are always writing yourself…that way you can offer more authentic modeling experiences for your students. For example, if you have written 5 pieces over the month, then you can really model how to identify which piece you want to publish. If you actually choose one of your own pieces to publish, then you can really model how to edit your piece for spelling, missing words, etc.

Parents: If you notice that your child is pumping out writing and never really working on one piece for an extended period of time, you may want to step in. That can mean that you offer a suggestion to the teacher ex: “I have been meaning to ask you how you are teaching editing and revision so that I might help my son/daughter at home.” It can also mean that you provide experiences for your child at home. Perhaps you work with them to edit and revise an old HW assignment or a creative writing piece they have done at home.

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