My experiences as a creative person, tutor of children, and teacher of creative writing

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Creative Writing-- Question how to you get kids to edit their work?

So, question. How much time are you spending with their conventions like periods, capitalization, spelling, quotation marks, etc on a writing project? This year I am turning it more over to them since we don't have Assistant Teachers in the classroom, and I am wondering if that is a good idea. Some are catching on, and others are not. I have a folder where they do the re light green light, and spelling, but I know they are missing a ton. What do you do?
3rd Grade Teacher Janet L


I know what you mean about getting kids to edit. Some do it and others
don't. You can give lessons and worksheets, but they don't apply anything in their own writing. Some of the kids can learn from a lesson and apply it, generally your best students and readers, the rest don't. I think most can't take an abstract principle and apply it on their own. I have tried many approaches, but have found only one way that really works. I have tried partner editing, step by step editing, worksheets, rewards, and editing with small writing groups like reading groups, but they haven't worked well. What has worked in coaching the children individually.

We divide the class into four groups (usually about 28 kids total and about 6 in each group) according to their reading level which is pretty close to their writing level, generally. I individually check each child's writing. I know this may seem impossible, but it actually takes less time.

The top two groups generally just need a quick check. I might need to show
one child where to divide their story into paragraphs, or another how to
write dialog, but on the whole these kids are pretty much on their own.

The lower two groups need to be walked through editing. After they draft,
they are to revise and edit. I check their work and give them an assignment
such as putting in periods and send them back to their seat to do it while I check another's work. I have the next child waiting a short distance away, so I don't have to wait while the next child get their writing and comes to me.

I try never to do the editing for them. They won't learn how and it takes too much time. I may check a struggling child's work several times giving them small assignments. I have a list where I mark if I have checked their work and where they are on the writing process. I just put down a D for Drafting, R for revising, an E for Editing, or a P for publishing. I circle the P after they have read their published work to their group.

When they are done editing, I give them the publishing paper. They are not allowed to publish until I say they can. Most don't publish more than a page a week. Going through the writing process is too much for them to do very many pages at a time.

This may seem too time consuming, but I am not giving any lessons on grammar
or worksheets. They seem to pick up best what they use in their own writing. They improve quickly when they can see how to apply editing and make their
own writing clear and easy to read.

Once a week they meet together as a group for an author's chair. They really
enjoy sharing their writing with their small group. Most are too nervous to
read to the whole class and aren't able to read loud enough for it to work.