When I first started teaching, I used to take a few students’ writing journals home to edit each night. I would spend my evenings marking up mistakes in my students’ writing. I would then meet with them the next day to discuss what they needed to fix. I would do this every single night!
When I did this, we mostly focused on spelling, grammar, and other mechanical errors. I made spelling very important because, at the time, I thought it was the most important skill.
Well, I found that my students did not respond well to this type of editing (like they started to hate writing and were scared of the color red) and changes needed to be made.
I made a big change. I decided to stop editing my students’ work. Instead, I found ways to teach students to edit their own work.
5 Reasons I Don’t Edit Student Writing
It is too time consuming!
Don’t take the writing home anymore!
It discourages my writers!
Instead, we need to find ways to encourage our writers!
Editing your students’ writing does not teach them to be better spellers!
In reality you are helping students to make that one piece of writing better, but you are not teaching them to be better writers.
Instead, teach grammar and spelling patterns outside of Writer’s Workshop. As the year goes on, you should expect your students to apply their learning in their writing.
Mechanics are only a small piece of the puzzle!
I needed to focus on teaching leads, conclusions, transitions, word choice, dialogue, and several other areas. Spelling is not the most important piece and should stop being the top priority when looking at students’ writing.
Their writing needs to show their current ability.
A student’s writing should look like their developmental stage. Nine year olds don’t have perfect grammar and so neither should their writing!
I believe we should teach our students to edit their own work, instead of always relying on someone else.
Technology changes things.Many classrooms are 1:1 and most classrooms have some technology that students can use for word processing. In fact, many state standards even require students to type their writing.
Although I firmly believe that drafts should be hand written to encourage creativity, there is lots of value in having students type their writing.
The reality is that spell check and grammar check will help students to correct many of their mechanics errors.
Spell check and grammar check will never help them to correct their weak lead or help them to support their reasons with examples.
Therefore, it is important that we are teaching students how to write better, not just how to spell better.
5 Ways to Help Students Edit Their Writing
2. You can also teach your students the different editing symbols. Many of your students will love using these symbols and they will see these for many years to come.
3. Allow peer editing time. Be sure you teach and practice your expectations for peer editing at the start of your year.
4. Have students type their final draft. Spell check will not catch everything, but it does help with a few words here and there. Students love seeing their writing typed and printed.
5. If you need to help a student with mechanics, do this in a writing conference but only focus on one paragraph. Think out loud and model the editing process for them, then have your student go back and try the same with their other paragraphs.
Teachers should use writing conferences to mainly focus on the content of their students’ writing. I hope you discover that you have some very talented writers in your room by not focusing only on mechanics.
We can’t expect perfection. It’s so tough to look at errors that we know students have the ability to fix. It’s just goes against our intuition as a teach.
However, focusing more on content and less on mechanics, we are teaching students to love to write. Students who love writing will always be more successful than those who see it as a chore.
Would you like some more tips and ideas for helping your students to become better writers? I have a few of great resources for you!
FREE Writing Email CourseI put together a five day email course that is jam packed with valuable tips and resources for teaching writing in grades 2-5.
The best part is that it is FREE! Just drop your name and home email address in the box below to get started.
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How to Teach Writing Video SeriesI created a series of videos that include all kinds of valuable tips for teaching writing. I suggest watching the whole series by clicking HERE, but you can also just watch the video about editing student writing by clicking HERE.
Comprehensive Writing UnitsIf you teach grades 2-5, then I have amazing news for you! I have taken all of the guess work out of teaching writing by creating comprehensive writing units. They contain daily lesson plans, anchor charts, mentor text passages, rubrics and so much more!
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Have a Not So Wimpy Day!