Great Writers Need an Editor

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SWBAT...identify, discuss, and correct errors in punctuation, spelling, sentence format and content in their own and their partner's writing by giving and implementing specific advice for areas of improvement.

Big Idea

Mistakes are a part of life. When we get our audiences opinion on our writing we can make our stories even better.

Creating the Purpose

5 minutes

Peer Editing is one of my favorite things to have students do because it offers them a safe, supportive environment from which to get criticism and compliments that better their writing. I open this lesson by sharing that today is Peer Sharing Day! They love sharing but as soon as I state this hands go up asking what type we are doing today - I pick? or they pick? - partners. Today I want to give them the opportunity to choose their own partners because their reports are so long and need attention to details. I've found that friends are more critical, but give kinder advice. Since many of these students will have more than a few rewrites before they can turn in their final projects, I feel like starting with kindness is a good thing.

I have the students partner up by playing a short song (any music will do!) and having students get a peer tutor before the time runs out of the song .  If there are any students who have difficulty finding a partner, I will pair them myself and then ask them if they will help me model some rules for the lesson so that they feel special rather than left out. 

Once they are in pairs, I give the students the objective that today they are going to peer edit each others research papers to help their partners become better writers. (W 5.5, SL 5.3, 5.1c, 5.1a)

Guiding the Learning

15 minutes

Now that we are all partnered up. I have two students model what good sharing is and what poor sharing is. I gather them close to me and whisper that they need to first be very kind to each other pretending to point out one good thing and one thing the partner could improve. I share that they can use past editing statements for their examples. I tell them when I give them the signal (thumbs up) they need to pretend to be disrespectful partners and say something not very nice about each others papers.  (for this, I give them examples like, "I didn't like what you said ....." or "Your handwriting is too messy to read.") (SL 5.1d)

I now pull out their copies of the class rules and the poster we have on the wall. We review them together and I ask students to give me examples of helpful words and hurtful words. This remind students how to peer talk and what respectful talking sounds like. I also remind them that good editors use both their ears and their eyes to when reading papers. We should say their stories aloud while we follow with our eyes so that we can make sure the sentences all flow and make sense in the order they were written. (SL 5.2)

I now share that they are each going to self edit their own writing first to check for errors and areas they can improve (L 5.3, 5.2, 5.1). They are given the self-edit worksheet (I also included a t-chart that could be used to edit their writing if you feel this would work better with your students) and we review it as a reminder for them - they use it often with their writing. I set the timer for 15 min and have them read, correct, and score themselves. (SL 5.1d, W 5.5) It is important for students to self edit first to build and practice their editing skills and make the corrections to their own writing. This teaches them to do this regularly after they write their first drafts. This also gives them practice before they apply the editing strategies to their partners work.   


Independent Practice

30 minutes

Once students have revised their own writing, it is time for them to share and conference. I give them the peer evaluation rubric (you could also use the narrative rubric if that fits your teaching style better) a peer grading sheet, and a proofreading marks sheet. I have my students spread into groups all around the classroom - some in desks, some on the floor and even some in the hallway so that each has the quiet time to read and think about their partners writing. (SL 5.1a, 5.1c)

We review the difference between "specific" advice - advice that tells what they should improve AND gives an example, and "general" advice - advice that just states they should make a change but doesn't state where, why, or what. Students are asked to share some examples of each. (W 5.5)

They each take a red pen and are asked to make editing marks, but not to rewrite any parts of their report.

I set the timer for 30 minutes on this section because those who finish early are asked to begin retyping their stories into a final copy and those who need more time will get it to ensure this activity is effective for all students.

I do monitor conversations and keep students focused on the task. I also listening in on peer sharing to ensure specific advice rather than general advice is being given (SL 5.1d W 5.5).

Here's a video of two students sharing editing advice:


Closing the Loop

10 minutes

If we do not run out of time, I would like to have students come up and share what good advice they gave each other. I  want them to realize the value of this peer editing activity before we closed the lesson so I ask them how their partner’s advice helped them improve their writing? I take responses and then ask how their advice helped their partner become a better writer? (SL 5.1d)

I end by sharing that all writers need to edit their writing if they ever want to get published. To prove this I share a quote of advice from SPAWN (Small Publishers and Writers Network) that states:

Contrary to what many newbie authors want to believe, publishers will not wade through a messy, disorganized, poorly written manuscript in hopes of finding a good story in there somewhere. A blockbuster story or a great nonfiction book idea will go unnoticed if the writing stinks. Publishers want to see neat, clean, well-organized, well-written manuscripts. With today’s high level of competition and limited publishing slots, hopeful authors must give the best presentation they can. Hence, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is not having your manuscript edited before sending it to an agent or publisher.

My purpose for sharing this quote is to get them to realize that in the "real" world writers use editors to ensure their writing is good before they publish it. This helps them to create intrinsic motivation and purpose for this process of their writing.