Trying to convince most students the value in editing, conferencing, and revision sometimes leaves me flabbergasted, and my students frustrated. It is a slow and meticulous process that should be established when students are young, but I know that the primary teachers I work with are most times pleased to just get students to write at all, so revision gets put on the wayside. Revising for young students is sometimes viewed as a bad thing because they are going back and redoing something. So with this in mind, sometimes letting a writing piece just sit for a day or two will help your students identify and be more willing to revise them.
In my classroom, I love to model and participate in the whole process with my students at the beginning of the year. We start with our journals or binders, and depending on our topic we approach it through literature, brainstorming, researching, or sketching. I encourage my students to write on every other line so that when they go to conference with either a partner, or myself there’s plenty of room to write comments. My student’s write their first draft, and then highlight items that need to be revised such as incorrect spelling, punctuation, sentences, and capitals after reading the piece out loud in a “whisper phone” (a “U” shaped device to listen to oneself made by using pvc pipe from the local hardware store). I also encourage my students to look at who’s speaking and their tenses. Once they’ve identified areas for correction, they go back and revise.
The second part of this process entails finding 2 partners to read through their pieces. Each partner needs to use a different color pen and indicate their name at the top of the writing piece to ensure that they’ve conference with someone else. Being a peer conference partner is a serious task, and students are required to participate using valid remarks not just, “I liked your story”. When their partner has completed this, they will write at least one positive comment and a suggestion for improvement using the 6 Traits of Writing at the end.
Peer conferencing is a wonderful way for students to see and hear what others are writing about and to gain insight into different writing styles and techniques. It allows them to practice their own editing skills, and helps them to identify learned grammar from lessons during the year.
Check out my free Writer’s Workshop S.H.A.P.E Up! and Writer's Workshop Revising Form to guide your students through the process and help keep them organized. Check out these sites below for that technology piece that may just pull one or two of your reluctant writer’s into the fold.
Education World's - Everyday Edits
Education World's - Animal A to Z (for primary students)
Top 9 Writing Apps from Reading Rockets