Today I was managing organized chaos in my classroom. Everyone was at different stages in the writing process. This can be scary for some teachers, but I have found that if I establish my expectations from the very beginning the students will rise to the challenge.
In yesterday's lesson I wrote about how two of my students already had conferenced with me. The rest of the class was still in the peer editing stage. Today we are going to continue with peer editing and then, as they finish with their peers, the students get to conference with the teacher. In the last paragraph in this section, I have included the 5 star checklist and the rubric that I used when conferencing with my students. (This rubric was created by someone in my district).
The main focus for today is W.1.5 because we are going to be editing with guidance from the teacher and from peers as we make our writing better. What makes today's lesson tricky is that, while some students will really respond to feedback from me, other students will struggle with implementing suggestions in their writing during the editing process. Editing is sometimes the most difficult stage in the writing process to teach because of the delicate balance you have to strike between telling students how to improve and letting them discover how on their own. Moreover, sometimes students think they are revising and implementing your suggestions, and they really don't. They are keeping a lot of difficult elements in their minds at once when writing, and some suggestions are just forgotten. I have a reflection and some suggestions about editing in the reflection section here. Hopefully some of my suggestions will help you!
For today's lesson, you will want to have enough copies of the Journal Paper - Elephants so that after editing with you, students can go back and write their good copies. You also want to have enough copies of My Five Star Checklist on hand for those students who are still in the peer editing phase. Finally, you want to also make enough copies of the rubric, 2013 Grade 1-2 Informational-Explanatory rubric, for when you are peer editing with individual students.
Because this was the last day of the writing unit and my students pretty much knew what they were going to do today, I explained my expectations quickly.
I said, "After you are done with writing your sloppy copy, come and see me and I will get you a partner. Go with your partner and find a spot in the room to read each others work. Read each other's work and make sure they have all the components on the checklist. When you are done with your peer editing come see me. I will read your work and use a yellow highlighter to evaluate your work against the rubric. We will talk about ways to improve your writing. You will go back and make your good copy. When I read your work the next time it should be better, and I will show how you improved by highlighting your new scores in a pink highlighter. Any questions?"
Then we got to work.
Everyone was at different stages in the writing process. My strugglers kept working to finish their sloppy copies, most of my students were in the middle of peer editing, and a few began to get in line to conference with me. The room was noisy, but I've established consequences for students who aren't on task, so they really were busy working.
During conferencing, I again honed in on those language skills. Students at this age can sometimes have a hard time on fixing the conventions of language. I wanted to make sure I brought that out in our conferences. After students were done conferencing with me and had a good understanding of how to improve their work, I gave them new journal paper and they went back to their seats to work. When they were done with their good copies, I collect all the papers they had used in the process: circle map, tree map, flow maps, sloppy copy and good copy. This way I could look at these to analyze and use for formative assessment data.
Once students were done with their good copies, I had them go help others who were still working. Some of my students really enjoy helping some of my strugglers so I let them do it. You can see some video of this stage of the lesson here: Conferencing With a Student - Elephants.mp4, and here: Student Teacher Conferencing - Elephants.mp4.
Since this was the last day of our unit I called the students to the carpet and put them into groups of 3. This works out great because I have 21 students in my class. I thought it would be important for students to think about how they improved as writers. I said, "I want you to take some time and talk with your groups about what you did better with your writing with our elephant unit than you did with the crab unit."