Do your children struggle to revisit pieces of work? I have come across this problem time and time again, where they write a piece of work and they consider it finished. Getting the class to edit and rewrite their work with improvements is incredibly difficult, particularly with elementary age students.
Here are my top tips for encouraging children to take another look through their work and to actually look for ways to improve it.
Sometimes children have a difficult time editing their own work, but they are good at spotting mistakes an areas for improvement in other people's. This type of editing is particularly good for correcting mistakes as children are great at spotting these in work that isn't their own!
Writing for purpose
Giving children a purpose for their writing can provide a reason to go back to their work to rewrite and correct mistakes. For example just writing a letter for practice in letter writing is not as effective as writing a letter that will actually be sent out.
An idea I love to use with my students is to write to someone famous, on many occasions they have written back to the students! My lessons on writing to famous children's authors is available in my store.
Editing one thing at a time
When children are really struggling to edit their work, it can be helpful to structure the editing as a whole class. Provide prompts and examples and structure the lesson to allow children to focus on a particular aspect of the editing process. An example of this would be to tell the whole class they are going to first read through their work and find all the weak verbs. Doing this all together and focusing on just changing the verbs is a lot more manageable to many children than just telling them to go away and improve their writing. Taking the process step by step as a whole class is a great way to teach children the individual parts of editing their work.
Using volunteers is similar to peer editing however, it is whole class based. Using a visualiser or digital camera, ask a volunteer to be brave enough to have their work edited by the whole class. Show the work to the class and guide discussion on ways to improve and correct the writing. It can be important with this type of lesson that the student doesn't get upset, teachers know which students are best chosen for this type of work.
Doing this together as a class allows the teacher to steer the editing in the correct direction and gives the class a chance to practice editing techniques.
When writing is read out loud it is a lot easier to spot the mistakes and areas for improvement. This can be done as a whole class or in partners to allow for more peer feedback as well as hearing their own work being read. A technique I have used in the past which worked well is giving children (particularly young writers) some toys or teddies to read their work to. It takes away the pressure on the students and still allows them to hear themselves read their work for mistakes and improvements.
Sometimes it only takes something as simple as providing a checklist for your students to help reference their editing against. I call these an up-levelling checklist in my classroom. It can be the small things like this which make all the difference when children are editing their work.
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