Slice of Life 28: Revising or Editing
(During March, I am blogging daily as a part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge!) Special thanks to the hosts of the Slice of Life Challenge: Stacey, Tara, Dana, Betsy, Anna and Beth. More Slice of Life posts can be found at Two Writing Teachers .
What is Revision? What is Editing?
How would you explain the difference between these two processes? In the CCSS, they are listed in the same anchor standard: “W.5. Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.”
What is revising?
Once we define “revising” as literally meaning to “see again,” to look at something from a fresh, critical perspective, we can begin to teach it. I used to use instruction that included “two stars and a wish” where partners respond with two elements of writing they like and one they wish that could be changed to strengthen the writing work. It wasn’t specific enough.
How do we make the revision more visible to students? Revising word choice has seemed easier to model. “Circle two words in the work that seem repetitive, tired, or not clear. Brainstorm possible words that would be stronger. Make a decision to change at least one word in your writing piece.”
What was missing?
I wondered if the instruction needed to focus a bit more on the “why” for revision in order to emphasize that the purpose is to make the writing stronger. Students studying written work answered: “Which of these two paragraphs is a stronger description? Be prepared to state the specific details that are your evidence of strength.” The before and after paragraphs are side by side here as they were projected on the screen:
Which would you rather read? Why? How did those sentences change? What does their “revising language” sound like when the students are talking about revising?
I did show the students the following list that I created when I brainstormed some ideas about how this old house looked and the underlined phrases showed where I had used them.
How the house looked?
- paint peeling
- cracked windows
- weeds around the house
- big house that takes up most of the lot
- two stories
- shutters falling off the side of the house
So this revision instruction began with students studying two pieces of writing to see the revising changes and then ended with showing them how a brainstormed list of “how it looked” was used for specific ideas that were added, removed and substituted. The students loved that they knew the house was “old” without saying the word “kind of like a riddle.”
Student revision is now about more than just moving a sentence around as students talk about changing words or phrases as they move, add, remove or substitute in the revision process.
What is editing?
Editing has often been explained as what a copy editor does to fix up the writing to get it ready for publication. The goal is to make the errors so few that the reader’s thinking is not interrupted as he/she reads. Typical conventions include capitalization, punctuation, spelling and usage. In the Core those are found in the Language Anchor Standards:
L. 1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
L. 2. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
How does instruction provide opportunities to “self-edit” in order to strengthen their writing? Technology makes this easier as squiggles under a word alert me to check the spelling, but students need to be doing the work of “editing” – not the teacher with a red pen.
How does that instruction work? One way to literally show the difference between revising and editing might be to teach some acronyms as a part of a mini-lesson after a lesson in revising like the one above where students did the work to figure out “how” the revision happened.
I believe this photo came from a #tcrwp friend but I apologize because I cannot credit the owner as I was not saving the source or the date at that time. Let me know if you recognize the source as I would love to add the correct attribution!