Friday, March 16, 2012

The Dreaded Editing Session

My kids are terrible at editing papers. Not just this year but every. single. year. A few years ago I was lamenting this with my partner teacher and she came up with a great idea. We use this when we have a big process paper due around benchmark time.

Group students into teams - 5 or more to a team works best. Have each team collect their rough drafts and trade with another team.  Each team member takes a paper and then I give them directions on what to edit. For example we start with spelling. They have to read through the paper in front of them and circle any words they think are spelled wrong. I only give them 1-2 minutes to check a paper and then they pass it to the left starting where the last person left off. We repeat this process until every team member has seen every paper. I shorten the time frame each time because there are less errors to mark as more people see the paper.

A great thing about this is that I mix the groups with stronger and weaker writing students. This means that every paper has several levels of proficiency helping to edit.

Once we are finished with spelling we move to punctuation, capitalization and specific grammar checks. After about 45 minutes we have completely edited everyone's paper. We are ready to fix those errors and write our final drafts.

When we start this at the beginning of the year I talk about how peer editing is important but every correction is only a suggestion. When they get their paper back they can choose to change their writing or not. This helps with the fact that some students may mark an error incorrectly. I also get a lot more questions than I used to because my kiddos want to know if the marked error really does need to be fixed.

The most difficult part of this process is that your kiddos have to be on the same writing schedule. You should have a class set of rough drafts ready to go. Although I'm sure you could modify the process to work with a writer's workshop model.

This process has worked really well to help my students focus on editing (just look at the photos!). They find it fun to find as many errors as they can in the short time I give them. They also comment how easy it is to edit when they are only looking for one specific thing at a time instead of having to find all the mistakes in a partner's paper.

This does not mean that my kids papers are perfect - far from. But I have seen a great improvement in their final products and their editing skills in general! (and that's what it's really all about, right?)

So how do you edit rough drafts in your classroom? What motivates your kids to work through this tedious step of the writing process?

1 comment:

Kim said...

Hi Des:
I generally have my students work in partnerships to do peer editing, but this sounds better.
I love the way their focus SHOWS in the photos. YAY for you!

Finding JOY in 6th Grade