Sunday, March 9, 2014

Editing in First Grade

I wonder how many of your hearts started to palpitate with the thought of having your firsties edit their own writing or, better yet, with a peer?

I keep the process pretty simple.  I also keep my expectations simple and age appropriate.  It wasn't so long ago when I would get all in a tither over my students missing OBVIOUS errors.  How can you not see that "of" is NOT spelled "uv"?  

Maybe because they are 6.

So, I keep it really age appropriate which keeps us all REAL happy and accomplished feeling.

I want to take a little bend in the road here and talk teaching philosophy for a second.  I'm not of the thinking that a published piece needs to be "perfect".  I don't expect a published piece to have every period and comma in its place. I don't think every word should be standard spelling.  I don't think that only "perfect" pieces are worthy of hallway hanging.

I do, however, expect for a published piece to be a little better than what it was after it was first written.  For some students - that's finding one mistake and fixing it.  For others, that's finding multiple areas that can be tweaked.

I break the editing process down into digestible chunks.  I've blogged about editing here and here but thought I'd break it down a little more today.

I've been using the concept of a "writer's eye" for a few years now and love it.  It works for my students.  

{plastic sunglasses with the lenses poked out}

Or you can make your own...

...and let's begin...

Day 1 - I see lowercase letters throughout my sentence - Using my story that I've pre-written {with lots of mistakes}, I model what this should look like.  I don't tell them what I'm doing, instead I like to just do it and tell them to use their eagle eyes and thinking caps to NOTICE what I'm doing {this keeps them more engaged}.  I move my finger through the sentence, very slowly - looking for those pesky uppercase letters where they don't belong.  After eliciting their noticings - I make sure they note that I didn't even have to read my story to do this part of the editing process.  I have them do this part alone, although you could have them work with a partner.  Completely up to you.  I don't teach the standard editing symbols, but I'm sure you could and I know many do.  I simply have them use their GREEN editing pens to change it to a lowercase letter, right on top of the uppercase one.  

These are my favorite!

Day 2 - I see finger spaces between all the words I wrote - Depending on the year, I sometimes combine this with Day 1.  Again, I model how this should look with my own story and ask them what they notice. I take my finger and slide it under the words - stopping {dramatically} if I see two words squished together. If a fingers pace was needed, I draw a vertical line {using my handy dandy green felt pen} between the words.  I have them do this by themselves as well but you could have them work with a learning partner too.

Day 3 - I see punctuation at the end of my sentences {Robot Day}- I find this to be the most difficult for my students.  They are still learning what a sentence really is.  There are still a few in my class who think punctuation belongs at the end of each line or those who put it at the very end of their story.  That's okay - that's where they are as writers - if they can find ONE spot where it DOES belong...I consider that a success.  I find that working with a partner on this one is especially helpful.  Earlier in the year I assign learning partners.  They sit next to this person on the carpet. I've made a very conscious effort to assign learning partners of mixed ability levels.  Learning partners "think and share" together during carpet learning and they also act as writing partners.  

Again, model how this process should work using a student as your learning partner.  It's so important to model and re-model, and model again how to take care of your partners feelings when you help one another. I think this is a life skill!  Like Day 1 and Day 2 before I model how this should look {and sound}, I challenge them to notice what they can and then share after.  In order to find missing punctuation you have to read it aloud. For me,  it helps to read the piece like a robot, word-by-word-real-robotic.  If you read with expression, you tend to overlook errors because you read it the way it SHOULD be, not necessarily the way it IS.  The kids love to hear me reading like a robot and notice it right away.  They also notice just how slow I am reading and how I'm using my pointer finger along the way.  I think reading slowly and carefully also emphasizes exactly where you are STOPPING naturally {which sounds counter intuitive because there's nothing natural about the way you are reading right now - you just gotta trust me on this}.  

I have the kids "whisper yell" STOP when they notice my pause - chances are {but not necessarily always} this is where punctuation belongs.  With my green pen I add the appropriate punctuation.  I also model stopping dramatically wherever I see punctuation and think "did that make sense?"  I put an "X" on any that is in the wrong place.  

Partnerships of mixed ability levels also helps because your more advanced writers can be really helpful to your writers who might be struggling a bit.  They have that natural ability of knowing where punctuation belongs. I consider one added period, question mark or exclamation point a success!!!!

**When partner editing I make sure the writer reads their own story aloud to their writing partner because reading "children spelling" can be tricky and some students aren't yet ready to read even the standard spelling of some stories. Remember to sit elbow-to-elbow and knee-to-knee**

Day 4 - I see a capital letter at the beginning of my sentence - I save this one for last because you have to fix your punctuation before you can do it.  Again, model how this looks. This is another one that you don't have to read your story for.  Just slide your finger slowly under each word.  Like every other day, have them notice what you're doing as you do it.  I dramatically stop at each punctuation mark, and think aloud "Did I use an uppercase letter to start this sentence?.  If I didn't, I use my green pen to change the lowercase letter to an uppercase letter - write on top of it.  Again, I don't bother with the standard editing symbols, because I don't want my students to get bogged down with remembering what they are, as opposed to looking for what they need to look for. Just my own teacher-opinion.  

Day 5 - I see word wall words spelled correctly - I added this one to the mix {although it's not in the anchor charts that Cara made.}  This is another one that you read each word like a robot while slowly sliding your pointer finger under each word.  I have them work with a partner on this one too because students tend to skip over incorrectly spelled word wall words because they ...well...they do and I don't know why! HA!  If my students find one or two word wall words that are spelled incorrectly and fix them...I'm doing the happy dance!

On any given day of editing, the process itself can take a while, or not long at all.  Once my students are done I ask that they put the writing piece that they are editing away and get started on a new story.  This allows time for me to confer with students who maybe whizzed through the process and missed some "obvious" errors. I can help them see a few more areas that they can fix.  I can also work with those who are more advanced and talk about adding commas, apostrophes or quotation marks.  I can chat with them about varying their punctuation {could we use an exclamation mark here instead of a period?}. Differentiation at its finest!

If you're more inclined to teach your students the standard conventions of editing - Reagan Tunstall has an amazing pack, Edit with Eddie,  that I use with my students who are ready!!!  I love it!

Up next?

Revising and publishing!  I'll save that fun for another day!!!

Happy writing!
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