Using a Student Sample for an Engaging Lesson on Revising and Editing

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Last week, I had my formal observation. I was observed for writing and I wanted to try something new with my fifth graders. Of course, I wanted something authentic. I'm not one for a "dog and pony show" when it comes to being observed because I want my feedback to help me grow as an educator. I sat down and considered that my students had recently finished fictional narrative writing. When I considered their final products, my overall feeling was that they were speeding through both revising and editing. I didn't feel like they were really understanding the importance of those steps, so I wanted to review what revising and editing look like. Of course, I wanted it to be engaging so I didn't want to just stand at the front of the room talking about it. I wanted them to see the results of proper editing and revising. I immediately thought of a student's writing that was already very good, but could've been even better with a bit of revising and editing. Of course, the first thing that I had to do was to make sure that I had two thumbs up from my student author. Luckily, I received it! From there, I began to plan my lesson. Here's what my lesson looked like:

First, I gathered my students on the carpet for a review of revising and editing. I found a few different venn diagrams as I was browsing on Pinterest and liked this one best: Revising and Editing Venn Diagram. After making a couple of changes, I typed the different statements out and cut them out separately. I read the statements one at a time, calling on students to come up and place each statement in the proper part of the diagram.
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When all of the statements were placed, I talked about the writing process and how authors often revise and edit over and over before they love their final product. We discussed the reasons for revising and I reviewed the different parts of the writing that we edit. We call it CPiGS where I am, standing for capitalization, punctuation, indents, grammar, and spelling.

Quick Reflection: In my lesson, I gave students a copy of the venn diagram and had them copy it down. In hindsight, this took quite a bit of time, and since I put the display up on my board, it wasn't really necessary. I wouldn't do that part again, so you can learn from my mistake! If anything, I might type up a completed venn diagram and have that copied and ready for them so that they can add it to their writing folder.

After that, I told students that we were going to get a hands-on experience with a student author's work. I made a big deal of talking about how wonderful his paper was, but that I felt it could be even better with a bit of revising and editing. I wanted to be sure that this was a positive experience for all, and so I talked about being sensitive to the fact that the author was their classmate. I then gave students specific directions for the lesson, a copy of the entire essay, and a section of the essay that would be their group's focus.

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1) Read the entire essay to familiarize yourself with the piece. Choose one person in your group to read the essay aloud and be good listeners while the story is being read.
2) Read the section of the essay that you have been assigned and first, revise it. There may be something to move, something to take out, or something that needs to be added. Share your thoughts and ideas as a group and decide what revisions are best for this paper. You must make at least one revision.
3) Reread the section of the essay that you have been assigned and now focus on editing. Remember, you should be specifically focused on fixing any run-on sentences and fixing capitalization as you make those changes. If you notice other things, you can change those at the
end if time allows, but STAY FOCUSED on run-on sentences and capitalization until you’ve fixed all of that.

I am happy to report that my students were excited to do this! They worked in groups of three, each focusing on the section that they were given. They were engaged in their work as they revised and edited and their conversations were fantastic. As they worked, I moved around to each group, discussing the different changes that they were making. I found that the checklist was really helpful in keeping them on task. It also helped that I planned the groups ahead to be sure that there was at least one focused individual in each group. As you might have guessed, the best conversation came from the group that the student author was in. He was his own biggest critic!

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When they were finished, the students rewrote their section on a piece of chart paper. We placed the finished rewrites on the board and the students were able to gallery walk and reread the paper with improvements. They returned to the carpet, where they informed me that they had found even more places to revise and edit during their gallery walk.

After the gallery walk, we discussed how their revisions and edits improved the overall paper and I pointed out that many of their corrections were things that I had mentioned to the student author in our conference as well. My goal had been to review revising and editing and help students to see the power in taking the time to make changes that will truly improve their writing and I believe that was achieved and so did my administrator. I'll definitely do this lesson again!

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  1. Thank you so much for sharing this. As a writing teacher, I feel like I'm always telling my students the same things in our conferences and they're not taking ownership. Half way through the year, they should be doing some of this on their own by now. This is a great lesson. I'm going to give it a try with my kiddos. Thanks!
    Are We There Yet?

  2. What a great activity! I love how engaging it is.


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