Editing: Looking at One Thing at a Time

Print Lesson


SWBAT look for spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors in their own and other student's writing.

Big Idea

Until students get really good at spotting common errors and noticing mistakes, they need to practice looking for one error at a time.


5 minutes

Who corrects students' written mistakes in your class? In your life? Only professional writers or public spokespersons have a personal editor. Therefore, it is really important for students to gain the skill of editing their own work. At this point in their writing lives they still make many mistakes and probably don't notice them when they are writing. Therefore, this lesson guides them through editing their stories.

They have a printed copy of their typed story, although a handwritten story would also work, preferably double-spaced. I show students a copy of my story which (intentionally) has a lot of mistakes. I ask students if they notice any and then ask what we can do about that? Does anyone know of any ways to indicate where the mistakes are and how to correct them? Some students have actually already heard of or practiced using some editing marks.

In the lesson they will get more experience using editing marks in their own writing.


15 minutes

As they are looking at my document with all of its mistakes, I tell them that we can use editing marks to point out the mistakes and write quick notes on how to correct it the next time I'm at the computer with my writing.

I display the editing marks. In order to learn them well, I have students go through each one, one at a time. Looking just at spelling, I ask students to listen to me as I read through my story and then raise their hand if they find something that needed to be correct. As hands go up, I stop and call on a student to share what they heard. I circle the mispelled word and write a little "sp" next to it to help me to remember to look it up later. If I know how to spell it now, I can write the correct spelling above it.

I reread my story for each area of editing, up to five times. As I edit, I demonstrated how to write the editing marks correctly.

Independent Practice

15 minutes

Finally, after editing my story, I ask students to read their own story and use editing marks to edit their stories. 

As we go through editing, some students ask specific questions about how to draw a symbol correctly, or where exactly to put. They ask questions like, "What I just don't know if this is wrong or not?" I tell them to star it or circle it so they can check on it later. 

When students are finished editing their stories, I ask for volunteers to tell what they noticed about their editing mistakes. The share with the class they noticed that they forgot a lot of periods or didn't put spaces between some words when they were typing. This share out support students who are nervous about not typing well or perfectly. They listen and realize that everyone makes mistakes.