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?