Today’s post gives a strategy for teaching editing, but also helps students develop automaticity using language conventions as I described in the blogpost Tidy-as-You-Go. In the middle of independent writing time, instead of or in addition to doing a mid-workshop teaching point, consider stopping to do a one-minute editing check. The key is that the editing needs to be done through a lens: instead of “take a minute to edit everything you have just written”, it sounds more like this:
“I’m noticing that many of you are using proper nouns in your writing. That’s what writers do when they are trying to create movies in the reader’s mind—they use specific nouns rather than general ones. For example, they say ‘Fairmount Elementary School’ instead of just ‘the school’. So, here’s the thing: when we use specific nouns that are the exact names of people or places, we call those proper nouns and they need to be capitalized. So right now, let’s read our drafts through the lens of proper nouns and use our green pencils to add the editor’s marks for capitalization (three stacked lines) and edit for proper nouns today. Ready? One minute. Go!”
- At the end of one minute, you might ask students to share what they found with a partner. Then they immediately go back to drafting.
- They provide a quick opportunity to re-visit conventions that have been taught but are not automatic yet.
- They teach students the skill of editing (which is different than just knowing what a convention is).
- They allow us to embed conventions into the writing workshop without over-emphasizing them above structure and development.
- They heighten students’ awareness which is the first step in learning.
- They don’t take much time out of the day and they involve no extra materials or lesson planning.
- They help students apply conventions to their own writing instead of practicing in isolated grammar exercises that research shows does not transfer.
- They encourage teachers to be responsive to students’ needs and to meet them at their zone of proximal development.
Wow! So many benefits to an instructional practice that takes just over a minute! Be sure to check out other posts in my series: Where’s the Grammar?!