What a blast! So much learning! So many new friends! So much talent! AAAAAAMMMMMAAAAZZZZIIIIINNNNNGGGGGG!!!!!!!!
I had the distinct pleasure and privilege of having a “split” schedule during the 2017 August Writing Institute so I was learning from Shana Frazin (grades 3-8 emphasis) in the mornings and Shanna Schwartz (K-2 emphasis) in the afternoons. The content aligned a lot but the stars were in perfect alignment on Friday when a chunk of time in both sections was focused on editing!
Editing can become a “hot button” topic pretty quickly as many teachers have strong beliefs around the fact that “kids need to write in complete sentences” AKA “Kids need to write in complete sentences with capital letters at the beginning and terminal punctuation.” Capital letters (K) and ending punctuation (1) are in the learning progressions and are a part of instruction. This post is not going to hypothesize about why those skills/strategies/habits don’t appear to transfer across genres or grades and why students in MS and beyond don’t seem to “use” what they have been taught. That’s a great conversation to pair with adult beverages face-to-face!
Editing: What’s Working? What’s Not Working?
There are so many components to “editing”: spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization that blanket statements about the effectiveness of instruction are difficult to accurately tease out. In general the research has been clear that the effects of isolated drill in traditional grammar instruction has had negative effects on improving the quality of writing. (Steve Graham)
So what can we use? Try? Test out in our own classrooms?
One FUN method used by this author is editing sticks and you can read more about those clear sticks here. Students can work on the MEANING, or purpose for punctuation, as well as explore how the meaning changes with these editing sticks.
Shana Frazin proposed editing stations and even demonstrated small group instruction to work on editing skills around commas. The students in the group used “checklist strips” straight from the WUoS to determine whether they had commas in their current piece of writing, and then they checked their comma use against the purposes for using commas in the information writing unit. If they didn’t use commas, they were then adding commas into their continued writing during that small group work.
Because “run-on sentences” are listed for fifth grade in the progressions, I chose to use 5th grade as a target grade level to tackle the “I can fix run-on sentences” from the editing checklist.
Here’s the task card I drafted:
Some practice sentences:
Here’s one tool (idea from Shana Frazin):
Here’s a second student tool ( 3 x 5 post-it matching the task card):
This still feels “Drafty-Drafty” as it shows two types of run-on sentences from student work. Run-on sentences with zero conjunctions. Run-on sentences with too many conjunctions or “Scotch Tape Words”. The easiest way to develop a task card or tool would be to check the full range of WUoS and see what work is already built into the units around run-on sentences. That “go to” response could save hours of angst and searching for solutions outside the resources!
(Unfortunately I did NOT have the entire set of books in my dorm room in NYC to peruse!)
Here’s what I heard Shanna Schwartz say in our K-2 session:
“Light editing could occur during every writing workshop session in second grade.”
This is not about being mean and telling students they have to “FIX” their writing every day before they can write anything else. This is not about REQUIRING students to EDIT every session.
This is one idea. This is one way that editing might go in order to build up habits that lead to being a stronger, more confident writer.
PLAN: “Second grade writers, it’s time for our editing break. Look at the writing that you have done today. I want you to read back over it and look for ‘x”. I am going to set the timer for one minute. Read back over your writing for one minute and then you may continue writing.”
Parsing / Processing (What did I see and hear?):
- Light editing – 1 minute required
- It’s a short break with a minimal disruption to the writing flow but yet it underscores the importance of YOU, the author, rereading your work in order to fix this one thing.”
- Respectful – “second grade writers”
- Time limited – 1 minute. Could extend a bit longer if the student is really “fixing something. But if it interferes with writing production, that will create a different issue during writing workshop sessions.
What might these skills be?
- Something that has previously been taught.
- Something that has previously been assessed.
- Something from earlier grade level progressions.
- Something that is a necessary foundation skill.
- Something that is not sticking for the majority of the class so the first use of editing minutes will be whole class.
“Second grade writers, it’s time for our editing break. Look at the writing that you have done today. I want you to read back over it and check for capital letters at the beginning of every sentence . . . ” (Set the timer for one minute.) (K)
“Second grade writers, it’s time for our editing break. Look at the writing that you have done today. I want you to read back over it and check that you have put punctuation ( . ! ? ) at the end of your sentences. Reread and check . . . ” (Set the timer for one minute.) (1st)
“Second grade writers, it’s time for our editing break. Choose three words from the word wall. Look at the writing that you have done today. I want you to read back over it and check your writing to make sure that you have spelled those three words correctly . . . ” (Set the timer for one minute.)
“Second grade writers, it’s time for our editing break. Look at the writing that you have done today. We have been working with word endings in word study. Read back over your writing and check your words for the endings “er”, “ed”, and/or “ing and make sure those endings are spelled correctly . . . ” (Set the timer for one minute.)
How many editing goals?
I would hope and Shanna suggested that students would have ONE editing goal at a time. The student needs to work on this targeted goal until he/she is able to complete it independently. Practice is definitely required before strategies will become a habit. That’s why this skill needs to be practiced multiple times in order for the student to be able to complete it!
The more visible you can make the editing goal the better! You will be watching for this goal during conferences, small group instruction and in the student’s independent work. Once you see a “body of evidence” you will move this goal to the Accomplishment Board where the post it / goal card goes in the pocket by student name like the one posted below.
How are you currently “teaching” editing in the Writing Units of Study?
What might you strengthen?
What might you add?
New York City
This rural Iowa dweller says thanks for all the opportunities:
for face to face meet ups with friends from Twitter, Twitter chats, and Voxer,
to be able to chat excitedly with fellow Slicers, bloggers and authors,
to dine in all sorts of fabulous places,
and in such great company.
Attending the musical “Fun Home”in the Round was magical.
Ahh, the bookstores
Jazz at Smoke
So much to see and do
While in NYC
For #TCRWP’s Writing Institute
Because the learning does NOT stop when the sessions end!
The conversations, the questions, the talk about “What are you reading?” and “What are you writing?” continues into the night!
A glorious week long adventure!
Thanks to you, my friends
And Lucy and ALL at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.
And what about the learning on Day 4?
I begin, again, at the end,
the eloquence of Pam Nunoz Ryan
who brought us to tears with her harmonica rendition of “America the Beautiful”.
Thanks to Fiona Liddell and Twitter for this picture.
What an eloquent author and so nice to hear the backstory, see the grids of characters and plot, as well as the research that went into Echo – a MUST READ book for your #TBR (To Be Read) list.
- Find your passion.
- Thank those who help you find your passion.
- Writing a novel is hard but rewarding work.
- Stories matter, stories matter, stories matter!
- Rereading stories is important!
Have you read Echo?
Please reserve it at your local public library NOW!
Choice Workshop – Colleen Cruz
Editing Does Matter: Spelling, Grammar, and Vocabulary in a Writing Workshop
To think about when teaching Spelling, Grammar, and Vocabulary:
Teach into developmental level so it will stick. What do they know? What are they trying to approximate? We looked at a student piece of work. What can this student do?
- Curriculum and standards What should we teach?
What do my standards say that the students need to learn by the end of the year?
Just as revision is not taught only once in the writing process; editing is taught more than once in writing process. First time – teach in editing (comma in clause) in order to lessen the cognitive load for the students. Then the second time teach comma in clause during revision. And for the third time, the student can focus on the comma when generating ideas in his/her notebook. The repetition will be helpful for students!
Each time we revisit the skill, our methods may vary – or not! The typical methods are:
b. Apprenticeship – Mentor author – Example
c. Inquiry- let’s see what we find in the world and then find patterns (bio, /er/ was/were)
The tools can either be Teacher created or Student created. For grammar it may be a series of books to cover the variations in journalism grammar, grammar for fiction writer, or grammar for academic writing. It may be fun grammar books, vocabulary picture books, mentor texts, or student examples. Or it may be editing pens, gel pens, or other irresistible editing tools. Quite literally, physical tools like Mini editing checklists with 2 or 3 things they are checking for! Whatever they are into! Students can make their own reminder sheets! Work with grammar, spelling and vocabulary should be in the spirit of FUN and Exploration. NO RULES for number of spaces after a period. Talk about conventional understandings. How do people expect it to go?
- Perfection in writing is not the goal for 9 year old students. The New York Times allows four errors per page with page writers and paid copyeditors. No published piece of writing in the world has ever been 100% perfect.
- If you are writing with passion and focusing on content, writing will slip when you are“letting it rip”. Errors are a good sign because they indicate risk-taking.
- Post “not perfect” student work on the hallway bulletin board. Make a huge label and Celebrate – “Check out our capital letters and end punctuation. We’ve been working hard on them and ALMOST have them!”
- Kids fall into automatic, manual, wrong – if kids aren’t automatic, it does not mean they are lazy , not trying, or don’t care. It just means they haven’t mastered that skill YET.
- Conventions, spelling, grammar, and vocabulary work should be FUN and PLAYFUL!
How does your instruction in Spelling, Grammar and Vocabulary match up?
What’s one change that you would consider?
It’s the end of January, the temperature is in the 50’s and it’s also the week of annual district-wide writing assessments. I.AM.SO.EXCITED! This is the week that we celebrate student writing as we score 3rd grade narratives, 8th grade persuasive/argument letters in social studies, and 10th grade persuasive/argument letters to legislators.
I wrote about this last year in a post titled, “Orchestrating Writing Assessments“. Check out the link for the details. It’s an amazing week of learning.
One of the sections of the 1.25 hours of professional development that start the day is about the writing process. I could go on and on and on and on about the writing process and its importance to students and teachers, but I won’t. Instead I am directing you to an amazing blog post by Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris, “What the Writing Process Really Looks Like“. The squiggly diagram of the “real” process is so intriguing that I’m keeping track of my process and will report on that soon (in another post – I believe I need more than ONE data point before reporting – LOL).
A second related post is, “How do we know that students are making progress in writing?” as well as this one, “Do I have to teach writing?” You can also search in the box at the top right to locate additional posts about writing assessment and instruction because, of course, quality instruction would be aligned with quality assessment. This week Two Writing Teachers have a series titled, “Aim Higher”. and it is filled with promise!
Dana opened the series today with a post titled, “Aim Higher: Setting goals for editing” where she effectively describes the individualized editing checklists that she used with 5th grade students! For Throwback week, Betsy chose another of Tara’s posts, “Student Self-Assessment: Introducing the Writing Checklist” and I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention, “Work Smarter: Use Student Checklists Throughout a Unit of Study . . . and Beyond“. You will be inspired to take action after checking out these masterful resources because assessments should not just be summative in nature!
And from the west coast Julieanne wrote about student responses to assessments in “Celebrate: The Power of Assessments, Part 2”, She built on Melanie’s ideas for cutting up rubrics in order to make them more “student friendly” as well as to challenge students to reach for higher levels!
One final thought on assessment: What is the information that you will gain from the assessment that you are planning? Clare and Tammy at Teachers for Teachers have this thought-provoking post, “Redefining Assessment” as they use Lucy Calkins definition “Assessment is the thinking teacher’s mind work.” (Because we should know so much more about these students beyond the score on a test!) What do we know that guides our instruction?
Is writing a priority in your district?
How would an “observer” know?
How have you added to your knowledge of assessments and their use?
Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy for creating a place for us to share our work.
(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!