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  • Editing for Clarity and

    Conventions

    W r i t i n g M o n o g r a p h S e r i e s

  • America’s Choice® is a subsidiary of the National Center on Education and the Economy® (NCEE), a Washington, DC-based non-profit organization and a leader in standards-based reform. In the late 1990s, NCEE launched the America’s Choice School Design, a comprehensive, standards-based, school-improvement program that serves students through partnerships with states, school districts, and schools nationwide. In addition to the school design, America’s Choice provides instructional systems in literacy, mathematics, and school leadership. Consulting services are available to help school leaders build strategies for raising student performance on a large scale.

    © 2007 by America’s Choice

    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system without permission from the America’s Choice permissions department.

    America’s Choice and the America’s Choice logo are registered trademarks of America’s Choice. The National Center on Education and the Economy and the NCEE logo are registered trademarks of The National Center on Education and the Economy.

    ISBN 1-889630-83-7 First printing 2001 www.americaschoice.org 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 10 09 08 07 06 [email protected]

  • W r i t i n g M o n o g r a p h S e r i e s

    Editing for Clarity and Conventions

  • Authors

    Cathlynn Richard Dodson

    Georgeann Rettberg

    Elizabeth Woodworth

    Contributing Staff

    Susan Fitzgerald

    Linda Lewis

    Program Design and Development

    Sally Hampton

  • Introduction 1

    EssentialFeaturesofEditing 3

    SuggestionsforTeachingEditing 6Editing Alone

    Some Tips on Teaching Editing to Younger Students

    Some Tips on Teaching Editing to Older Students

    Editing Conferences With You

    Editing With a Partner or a Response Group

    MakingYourClassroomaGoodPlacetoEdit 14

    AFinalNote 15

    References 16

    AppendixA 17Sample Editing Checklist for Younger Students

    Sample Editing Checklist for Older Students

    Editing for Clarity and Conventions

    Table of Contents

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    Editing

    1The point is that you have to strip your writing down before you can build it back up. You must know what the essential tools are and what job they were designed to do … it is first necessary to be able to saw wood neatly and drive nails. Later you can bevel the edges or add elegant finials, if that’s to your taste. But you can never forget that you are practicing a craft that is based on certain principles. If the nails are weak, your house will collapse. If your verbs are weak and your syntax rickety, your sentences will fall apart (Zinsser, 1990, pp. 20–1).

    Editing for Clarity and Conventions

    Editing is the action a writer takes to improve grammar; structure para-graphs; change sentence structure; and correct punctuation, spelling and usage. Some may find editing a tedious task, but it can be fun. In Write to Learn, Donald Murray talks about his enjoyment of the editing process. “Fiddling around with a piece of writing is fun,” he says, “because the

    subject comes clear. I like to make my copy simple, easy — like the flight of the seagull. Each editing makes the writing more natural. Editing — ironically — makes each draft more spontaneous” (Murray, 1996, p. 224). Editing helps writers. When writers add punctuation and change structure in sentences or paragraphs, they’re able to express a little more precisely

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    Editing

    2

    what they mean. But first, writers must understand what they’re trying to say — otherwise attempting to edit does no good. This is why the stages that come before editing — planning, draft-ing and revising — are so important; hopefully, by the time editing occurs, the writer’s focus will be sharpened so that editing will strengthen the piece overall.

    All writing needs structure, design and order. Editing, according to

    Murray, becomes simply a matter of adding, taking away, moving around and making sure the result is clear (Murray, 1996, p. 224). Editing is the stage when writers check conventions, the signposts that put the reader on familiar ground so they may concen-trate on information without distrac-tion. In A Fresh Look at Writing, Donald Graves explains what this means:

    Every letter that follows every other letter,

    the spaces in between groups of letters

    to indicate words, the capital letter at the

    beginning of each sentence, the period or

    stop to end an idea, the spaces between

    lines, all of these are acts of convention

    (Graves, 1994, p. 191).

    Graves says that, by focusing on conventions as aids to understanding what we mean and conveying that understanding to our readers, students are able to see conventions as useful tools in the writing process (Graves, 1994, p. 192).

    Your challenge is to find a way to get your students excited about using these conventions — the tools of the writing trade available to help writ-ers refine and clarify meaning. A good approach may be to show students the conventions they already are using and show them how conventions help them understand writing.

    Your challenge is to find a way

    to get your students excited

    about using these conventions

    — the tools of the writing

    trade available to help writers

    refine and clarify meaning.

  • © 2007

    Essential Features of EditingInitially, it’s important that students become comfortable with writing without having to worry about edit-ing. They need to write freely and without restraint. Lucy Calkins, in The Art of Teaching Writing, writes:

    Our students need to realize that it’s okay

    to make editorial errors as they write; all

    of us do, and then we correct them as

    we edit. Although it’s important to teach

    our students to edit, probably the single

    most important thing we can do for their

    syntax, spelling, penmanship, and use of

    mechanics is to help them write often and

    with confidence (Calkins, 1994, p. 290).

    When your students write in their sourcebooks, explain that you don’t expect perfect writing. Let them know it’s more important to make deep observations and explore new ideas, and that cross-outs and misspelled words are perfectly acceptable at this stage of writing.

    It’s also crucial to make sure stu-dents understand that editing is not revision, and revision is not editing. If students are paying too close attention to the conventions of writing in their first draft, or even in the early stages of revision, the content will suffer. The time for editing comes after revising. (Though it might seem helpful, during the revising stage, to use underlining or asterisks to mark words or sen-tences that may need future attention, this may be a strategy best reserved

    for more experienced writers, older students.) Zemelman and Daniels, in A Community of Writers, say that experi-enced writers see revision as entering into a conversation with their previ-ous thoughts (Zemelman and Daniels, 1988, p. 166). Editing, however, is the time for looking closely at the mechan-ics of the piece; sometimes in doing so, a writer may discover that the struc-ture needs to be changed as well; in that case, the writer can move back to or, in the spirit of recursiveness, onto revision.

    Murray suggests three stages of editing: the first for the topic, the second for the development of the topic and the third for the language that communicates the topic. Below is a list of questions writers can ask themselves for each of the three stages (adapted from Murray). You may wish to adopt and adapt this list and ask students to add to the list as they discover new questions to ask.

    Editing

    3

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    Editing

    4

    State in one sentence the single most

    important message you have for the

    reader.

    l Does the draft deliver on the promise of the title and introduction?

    l Does your message have sig-nificant meaning you can make clear to the reader?

    l Does your message provide the tension and energy to drive the reader forward?

    l Is your message focused? Do you have a clear point of view toward the subject?

    l Do you have an abundance of information on which to build your draft?

    l Is your information accurate and fair?

    List the points that support the message

    in the order the reader needs to receive

    them.

    l Is the form — the genre — of the draft appropriate to deliver the message to the reader?

    l Does the structure within the draft support and advance the message?

    l Is the structure logical? Does it lead to the next sequence?

    l Is the draft too long or too short?

    l Does the pace of the draft move at the right speed to keep the reader interested?

    l Is each point supported by evi-dence to convince the reader?

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    Read the draft aloud to be sure that it is

    accurate and fair and that the music of

    the language supports the message you

    are sending to the reader.

    l Does the title catch the reader’s attention, and does it make a promise to the reader that can be fulfilled by the draft?

    l Does the opening do the same?

    l Does the reader finish each sentence having gained information?

    l Does the draft reveal rather than tell whenever possible?

    l Does sentence length vary?

    l Is the draft written mostly in active voice?

    l Are the tenses consistent?

    l Are any words misspelled?

    l Are the traditions of language and mechanics followed?

    l Is the draft attractively presented?

    l Does the closing give the reader a sense of closure and completeness, yet stimulate the reader to continue to think about the message? (Murray, 1996, pp. 229–31).

    It’s important to remember that even this final stage of the writing pro-cess is still focused on the discovery of meaning. Even in editing, students may learn more about their topic. Editing also gives students one last chance to make their meaning clear to the reader.

    Murray shares a bit of simple advice about writing from George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language”:

    l Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech that you are used to seeing in print.

    l Never use a long word where a short one will do.

    l If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

    l Never use the passive when you can use the active.

    l Never use a foreign phrase, a scien-tific word or jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

    l Break any of these rules sooner rather than say anything barbarous (Murray, 1996, p. 232).

    Editing

    5

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    Editing

    6

    Suggestions for Teaching EditingOnce students feel confident about their revisions of the writing, they can begin to edit. The actual process of editing can be done in several ways. Students can edit:

    l alone;

    l with you in a conference; or

    l with a partner or a response group.

    The following sections explore how these three editing options might be handled in a writing class.

    Editing AloneWhen students edit alone, it may be useful for them to use some of the “tools of the trade”: Post-itsTM, flags, bright markers, or pens and highlight-ers. Using Post-itsTM and different color markers are just a couple of the fun tools that can help students become engaged in the editing process.

    A coding system of editing marks, such as circling or putting a check above a misspelled word, should be taught to the students and posted on the wall or placed in their individual writing folders. (You can use standard editing symbols or, depending on the age of your students, create some of your own.)

    Checklists also are useful (see the checklists in Appendix A). Providing students with a checklist, an accessible place for picking up the checklist and perhaps posting some examples of writing with completed checklists will help writers by giving them something to reference while they are working. Demonstrating how the checklist works on the overhead or in small groups also can be helpful. Some simple questions like the following could be a good place to start if you want to make your own checklist with your students:

    l Do I have a capital letter at the beginning of the sentence?

    l Does my sentence have an end mark?

    l Have I used the comma in the right places?

    Using Post-itTM notes to self-edit also can be a help to student writers. This same Post-itTM note system can by used by you in conferences and by peers in partner or group conferences.

    When students edit alone, it

    may be useful for them to use

    some of the “tools of the trade”:

    Post-itsTM, flags, bright markers,

    or pens and highlighters.

  • © 2007

    The figure above represents a 3" x 3" Post-itTM note, divided into three sections. After checking the criteria for the assignment and re-reading their writing, students can list under the “+” section some of the features of the criteria they incorporated into their writing — these are things the writer knows and is able to do.

    In the “–” section, students can record elements they left out — if this section is left blank, it may be a good starting point for your or a partner’s response.

    In the “x” section, students can list error patterns that are habitual — run-on sentences, spelling problems, subject-verb irregularities, etc. Again, if the writer isn’t able to complete this part, it may be the perfect place to begin your conference.

    You and your students can use larger Post-itTM notes if you like, depending on their age and dexter-ity. This is a technique you can teach easily, and it’s also a method you can employ when reading a set of papers to determine what conventions may need to be reviewed by the whole class

    or a small group. For self-editing, this is a great way to make students think about how writing is put together and how it stands up to the criteria or stan-dards set for the genre or project.

    Students often struggle with edit-ing because they are too “close” to the work. They’ve slaved over a piece for what seems like years, and they can no longer “see” errors. It often is difficult for students to recognize words that are spelled incorrectly because they skim over the words when reading to themselves. Suggest that students read their text backward, with the last sen-tence first. Students who read the text backward will have a good chance to locate spelling and punctuation errors because they can’t anticipate what’s coming next.

    Students also should be told to take time between drafts. By taking time off from a piece, students can return to it and discover errors they wouldn’t see if they continued to work without a break. Reading their work aloud after it’s been put aside for a couple of days also can be very instructive. Students will hear what they really wrote and often can begin to understand what works, what doesn’t, what’s missing and what needs to be cut.

    When self-editing, students should also use word walls, dictionaries, the-sauruses and classroom charts to assist them with conventions, including spelling. (See the mini-lessons on edit-ing and spelling assistance for details

    Editing

    7

    + –

    x

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    on teaching editing strategies and creating editing charts and posters for your class.)

    Some Tips on Teaching Editing to Younger StudentsDonald Graves, in A Fresh Look at Writing, discusses how younger chil-dren should share information about the different conventions they use in their writing. As in any sharing situ-ation, you and your students gather around, look over a writing project and talk about different conventions. The discussion can be a five-minute segment of regular sharing time; you also can share other writing with the students. There are several ways this can be done:

    l Mention a convention, read a section of your writing in which the conven-tion is used and tell how the conven-tion acts as an aid to meaning.

    l You can mention a convention that students have used but not why they used it. Ask the students for their thoughts about why it may have been used.

    l Find a convention in a book and state how the convention clarified the writer’s meaning.

    l Point out marks and other conven-tions the students do not under-stand. Ask questions: “What’s that? I’ve never seen it before. What’s it for?” (Graves, 1994, p. 204).

    l Keep a record of who participates. Put a list of conventions and who knows how to use each one on the bulletin board (or keep it in a bound folder). In this way children know which of their classmates to consult if they wish to find out about a par-ticular convention. In grade 3 and higher, they also should have copies of past mini-lessons. These can be kept in a folder with a table of con-tents in front so children can locate specific conventions more easily (see the mini-lesson on keeping a record of mini-lessons).

    Some Tips on Teaching Editing to Older StudentsIn Writing With Power, Peter Elbow talks about two goals in editing: the short-range goal of getting rid of mis-takes and the long-range goal of learn-ing grammar. The following list of editing steps may help older students work more efficiently through the edit-ing process (Elbow, 1981, p. 170):

    l Try as hard as you can to put off until the end of the revising process any attention to grammar. It may take you months to learn to put aside your grammar itch as you write, but it’s worth the effort.

    l If you have difficulty getting things correct, make sure you write out a fresh copy of your piece at this point. It’s much harder to find mis-takes if you work with your battle-scarred draft with its crossings-out,

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    Editing

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    tiny words cramped in tinier spaces, and arrows lassoing words back from the margins.

    l Take a break so you can come back to this clean copy with fresh eyes. Morning is a good time for fresh eyes and proofreading. Reading it out loud also will help you find mistakes.

    l Type your final version or write it out neatly on good paper. Don’t use both sides of the paper unless there is some special reason. … Your goal is to make your writing easy to read. The physical appearance of your writing has a big effect on how people experience your words.

    l Proofread for errors. This is essen-tial, even though you may be sick to death of this piece. Mistakes in copying and typographical errors are almost inevitable. And you will notice some mistakes in mechanics as a result of seeing words set out neatly in a new placement on the page. Use a friend or two to help find errors. Corrections should be made neatly, but they needn’t be absolutely invisible except in the case of very formal or legal documents. Most readers will be pleased, not bothered, to see evi-dence that you worked right to the end to remove distracting errors.

    In the Middle also contains several transcripts of editing conferences that may serve to show you what an editing conference can be or can do. The following excerpt is an example of an editing conference where just one convention is discussed (a highly effective tactic for teaching conventions of language and for teaching edit-ing skills):

    Ms. A.: Sandi, there was one big problem I noticed last night … it had to do with periods and other end-stops. Can you tell me what a period does?

    Sandi: It comes at the end of a complete sentence.

    A: How can you tell if something is a complete sentence?

    S: If you have a complete subject and a complete predicate.

    A: Right. So … what does that mean?

    S: (long pause) I’m not sure. It’s a rule we learned in sixth grade.

    A: Well, let’s take a look at “Body in Gull Lake” and see if you can learn a convention you can apply. Punctuation shows people how to read a piece of writing — what to do with their voices. A period usually shows a reader where to drop and stop her voice. Do me a favor. Read this paragraph softly aloud and listen: Where does your voice drop and stop?

    (Sandi reads.)

    A: Can you hear the periods?

    S: Yeah. I see what you mean.

    A: Without periods what you have is a problem known as run-on sentences. Your reader’s voice runs on and on. Periods are probably the single most important punctuation mark because they signal the stops. Would you add this convention to your proofreading list, that from now on you’ll proofread softly to yourself and make sure you’ve put periods where your voice drops and stops?

    S: Sure (Atwell, 1998, p. 259).

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    length, language and syntax. It’s best at this point to use Post-itsTM (like the method discussed above) or an edit-ing checklist rather than writing on the paper. After the students have edited as much as they possibly can, you should assist them with any

    Editing

    10

    Editing Conferences With YouIt’s important to remember when read-ing student work at the editing stage that you’re not reading to determine whether a piece is “finished,” but rather to look at spelling, punctuation, paragraphs, logic, clarity, sentence

    Keeping Up With Standard American English Usage

    Keeping up with the changing nature of our language isn’t as easy as it sounds. We tend to remember what our English teachers taught us — likely the same usage rules and regulations their English teachers taught them. However, while we’re busy learning language usage rules in class, American English marches on, often without us.

    Eminent linguist, lexicographer, scholar and teacher Kenneth Wilson, in The Columbia Guide to Standard American English, suggests that “Standard American English usage is linguis-tic good manners, sensitively and accurately matched to context — to listeners or readers, to situation, and to purpose” (Wilson, 1993, p. i). “But,” he cautions, “because our language is constantly changing, mastering its appropriate usage is not a one-time task like learning the multiplication tables. Instead, we are constantly obliged to adjust, adapt, and revise what we have learned” (Wilson, 1993, p. i). The following is just a sampling of what’s new with American English usage (adopted and adapted from The Columbia Guide to Standard American English).• It’s standard American English to begin a

    sentence with coordinating conjunctions “and,” “but” or “or.” Beginning a sentence with a coordinating conjunction can be pow-erful — just don’t over do it.

    • Today, “done” and “finished” are interchange-able. You can be done (working in the kitchen) and the chicken can be done (cooking), too. You may use whichever one meets the style requirements of your speech or writing.

    • Using “hopefully” is standard, but overusing it is boring (undoubtedly why conservative language users and commentators try to avoid it).

    • It’s okay to use “I” depending on the purpose of your writing and your audience. If you have an idea, acknowledge it directly if your writing merits an “I” statement. But try to avoid over-using “I” — with too many “I” statements you can sound self-centered and boring.

    • “Irregardless” is a word. Many think it’s a blend of “irrespective” and “regardless.” But just because it’s a word doesn’t mean it sounds right. Best to stick with “regardless” and avoid being judged harshly by those who don’t know “irregardless” is a word.

    • End a sentence with a preposition when the sentence naturally flows that way, rather than risk sounding stuffy or awkward by trying to avoid a terminal preposition.

    • To casually split an infinitive is okay these days. Avoid splitting infinitives when doing so would cause confusion or when your writ-ing must be very, very formal. Otherwise, split and be happy.

    • Trauma over “that” and “which” haunts every speaker and writer of English. Most folks use “that” and “which” interchange-ably (despite the conservative rule: “that” should introduce a restrictive clause modi-fier, and “which” should introduce only non-restrictive ones). The best advice is to use whichever one sounds right to your ear or use neither at all.

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    additional errors if the paper is to be published. When looking at the errors, try to see a pattern so that you’ll be able to help the students without over-whelming them. It’s vital in the confer-ence to begin by celebrating what the student has done, followed by teach-ing only one or two conventions. “The thing that guides me as I prepare for an editing conference,” says Calkins, “is this: I know that if I am to help students, I need to assume that their errors grow out of some logic, some understanding about conventions. If I am to help a particular writer, I need to understand her operating princi-ples” (Calkins, 1994, p. 305). In Time for Meaning, Randy Bomer talks of locat-ing “just one convention of language a student seems ready to learn or par-ticularly needful of learning” (Bomer, 1995, p. 80).

    Nancie Atwell’s In the Middle: New Understandings About Writing, Reading, and Learning lists skills that could be taught in editing conferences. The fol-lowing includes many suggestions from her list — originally compiled from “students’ individual proofread-ing lists” (Atwell, 1998, pp. 110–11):

    l Edit in a pen or pencil that’s a dif-ferent color.

    l Put the date and draft number on every piece.

    l Write on one side of the paper only to allow for cutting and pasting.

    l Use ¶ when editing to indicate new paragraphs.

    l Watch for short, choppy paragraphs. Combine them.

    l Watch for paragraphs that are too long. Give the reader more breaks.

    l Draft in paragraphs.

    l Use short (one- to two-sentence) paragraphs to stress a point or idea.

    l Circle any words that could be misspelled. After a “c,” it’s “ei,” not “ie.”

    l “All right” is two words. “A lot” is two words.

    l Put capital letters on the first, last and important words in a title.

    l When splitting words between lines, split between syllables. See how words are split in a dictionary.

    l Don’t split a one-syllable word.

    l Keep pronouns clear so that readers can tell whom “he” or “she” refers to.

    l Keep verb tense consistent: either past or present.

    l Proofread softly, listening for missing words or missing sounds.

    l Use a semicolon between two sen-tences that have a relationship.

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    l Watch for comma splices because a comma isn’t strong enough to hold the sentence together. Use a semico-lon instead.

    l Use apostrophe s (’s) or s apostro-phe (s’) to show something belongs to someone.

    l Use ellipses to show a long, dra-matic pause.

    l Use a colon to show that a list is coming.

    l Separate interjections from the rest of the sentence with a comma.

    l “You’re” = you are. “Your” = belongs to you.

    l “It’s” = it is. “Its” = belongs to it.

    l Start a new paragraph every time the speaker changes.

    l Use single quotes when quoting inside a quote.

    l Listen for too many “ands” when you proofread.

    l Proofread for clutter: too many adjectives and adverbs.

    Editing With a Partner or a Response GroupWhen students work together with a partner or in a response group, rou-tines and rituals need to be established for the work to proceed in an orderly and constructive manner. You’ll need to model what needs to happen; you may even wish to have a response group model for the whole class with your guidance. Creating guidelines for behavior and feedback during the edit-ing sessions can help students learn to offer effective critiques in an acceptable manner and will keep the environment a positive one. You also may wish to keep a class proofreading list, chart or poster and ask partners and response groups to contribute regularly. You’ll want to consult the mini-lessons on response groups, partner talk and edit-ing to help you prepare your class for the procedures inherent in working with peers.

    . . . routines and rituals need

    to be established for the work

    to proceed in an orderly and

    constructive manner.

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    In Write to Learn, Murray offers some editing activities designed spe-cifically with peers or small groups in mind. Some of these exercises are listed below for you to adapt further as needed for your class (Murray, 1996, pp. 236–38).

    l Have an editing fair. Break the class into groups and make each group responsible for a common writing problem. One group might become experts on avoiding the passive voice; another on comma splices. Still another might concentrate on eliminating wordiness or finding active verbs. Have two groups at a time set up separate “booths” in class so that everyone else can stop by with their drafts and work on specific issues. Hold a fair at least once a week, rotating groups and assigning new topics as needed.

    l Students can collect troublesome sentences from their own work. As the student’s writing partner, the group or you help them recognize wordy, unclear or grammatically weak sentences, the students should add them to their lists. They should select one or two sentences from the list daily and work with a partner to rewrite them.

    l Students can take a piece of writing, their own or someone else’s, and cut it in half. They should replace multiple words with one when one will do. They should make war on needless adjectives, cut back on prepositional phrases and pare to the bone.

    l Students can exchange papers with someone else and circle all descrip-tive adjectives. Which are vague, abstract? Which convey specific images? Students can help their partners substitute concrete adjec-tives for vague ones. Students can help eliminate adjectives where their partners use too many.

    l Students also can examine, with a group or partner, how a published writer uses a combination of long and short sentences to set the pace and tone of a piece or to keep it interesting. They can then rewrite a portion of the piece so the sen-tences are all the same length. They should read the paragraphs aloud and compare them to the original. What happens to the piece of writ-ing when the sentences don’t vary?

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    Making Your Classroom a Good Place to EditEditing requires loads of reference materials and supplies: charts, post-ers, dictionaries, scissors, thesauruses, Post-itsTM, brightly colored pens and markers, piles of user-friendly editing checklists, and more. And all of it needs to be easily accessible to students. In setting up a “Writing Center” in your room, you could designate a special area for working and a special area for supplies labeled with the various stages of the writing process: planning, draft-ing, revising, editing and publishing (the supplies and materials needed for the stages overlap). Under each of the labels, though, you could include copies of these monographs, excerpts from your favorite teaching books or recom-mended readings for inspiration (stories of writers writing: planning through publishing).

    Many of the books listed in the ref-erences section include helpful tips for editing (as well as for the other stages in the writing process), and many parts are worth sharing with students. You can, as a class, learn about what the authors recommend in a certain editing situation and then come up with your own form or strategy. Students will enjoy this “ownership” experience and, perhaps, be more invested in the entire editing process. Each of these books also includes extensive references to assist you in acquiring additional material for your and your students’ continued learning.

    . . . you could designate a

    special area for working and a

    special area for supplies labeled

    with the various stages of the

    writing process.

  • © 2007

    A Final NoteEditing is the time when the conven-tions of language — the mechanics as well as punctuation and spelling — become the focus of the writing process. These conventions aid stu-dent writers in further clarifying and refining the meaning of their work. You help your students overcome any negative beliefs they may have devel-oped about these conventions and show them that using these tools to finetune their writing will only make them better writers and communica-tors. According to Murray, “Editing is the final clarification of meaning. You choose one word and reject another word in relation to meaning. If the meaning isn’t clear, the choice will be arbitrary and often wrong. … When you revise, you read to see what needs to be done in the next draft; when you edit, you are the reader’s advocate, preparing the final draft for your read-ers” (Murray, 1996, p. 226). Encourage your students to have fun with the process of editing, to enjoy the power they hold over their finished product. When students are convinced they can have fun with editing, they’ll be able to conclude their writing projects on a positive note, leaving them eager to begin the process once again.

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    References

    Areglado, N., and M. Dill. (1997). Let’s Write: A Practical Guide to Teaching Writing in the Early Grades. New York: Scholastic.

    Atwell, N. (1998). In the Middle: New Understandings About Writing, Reading, and Learning. Portsmouth, N.H.: Boynton/Cook.

    Bomer, R. (1995). Time for Meaning: Crafting Literate Lives in Middle and High School. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann.

    Calkins, L. (1994). The Art of Teaching Writing. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann.

    Elbow, P. (1981). Writing with Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Fiderer, A. (1993). Teaching Writing: A Workshop Approach. New York: Scholastic.

    Graves, D. (1994). A Fresh Look at Writing. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann.

    Murray, D. (1996). Write to Learn. Fort Worth, Tex.: Harcourt Brace.

    Robb, L. (1998). Easy to Manage Reading and Writing Conferences: Practical Ideas for Making Conferences Work. New York: Scholastic.

    Strunk, W., and E.B. White. (2000). The Elements of Style. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

    Wilson, K.G. (1993). The Columbia Guide to Standard American English. New York: MFJ Books.

    Zemelman, S., and H. Daniels. (1988). A Community of Writers: Teaching Writing in the Junior and Senior High School. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann.

    Zinsser, W. (1990). On Writing Well. New York: Harper Collins.

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    Appendix A

    Sample Editing Checklist for Younger StudentsEDITING CHECKLIST

    Name _______________________________________ Date _____________________

    Title of Project __________________________________________________________

    QuestionstoAsk Yes No Gothelp Fixedit

    1. Did the writer end each sentence with

    a period, an exclamation point or a

    question mark?

    2. Did the writer start each sentence with

    a capital letter?

    3. Did the writer use quotation marks to

    show when a character is speaking?

    4. Did the writer use the word wall or

    dictionary to check spelling?

    5. Did the writer circle any words or

    sections for particular response?

    Words to add to the writer’s personal

    spelling list

    Teacher comments

    Editing

    17

  • © 2007

    Editing

    18

    Sample Editing Checklist for Older StudentsEDITING CHECKLIST

    Name _______________________________________ Date _____________________

    Title of Project __________________________________________________________

    LanguageConvention Self-Edited(YorN) Peer-Edited(YorN)

    Commas Y Y

    Semicolons Y N

    Words to add to personal spelling list

    Teacher comments

  • In This Series

    Rituals, Routines and Artifacts: Classroom Management and the Writers Workshop

    Mini-Lessons for the Writers Workshop

    Planning: A Rehearsal for Writing

    Drafting: Getting Words on Paper

    Response Groups: Providing Feedback to Writers

    Writing Conferences

    Revising Writing

    Editing for Clarity and Conventions

    Author’s Chair: Bringing Closure to the Writers Workshop

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