I am still in full on writing gear over here, how about you? Last week I wrote about How to Help Students Revise in this post. I am very happy to report that revisions are going really well in our class, and we are getting much more natural at it.
Editing is a whole different story though, so this week I am focusing on ways to make peer editing meaningful, because let's face it, there is one of us, and what seems like sixteen million of them and wanting help at the same time.
Set Clear Expectations
I devote a whole writing block to just setting up the expectations of what peer editing is. This is a tough one for kids, and adults for that matter, to wrap their heads around. No one wants to be told that their writing isn't perfect. By setting up clear expectations and a purpose from the beginning you keep everyone on the same page.
I always tell my students that we are working together to make our writing better, not that it needs to be fixed.
Model, Model, Model
A large chunk of that first day of peer editing is me modeling how I would like to see it done. I am fortunate enough to have an aid in my room during writing, so she and I model it up with our own writing, then we model some more with student writing.
Assign Partners Based on Ability
I am pretty rigid when it comes to partners for editing. I don't want my highest writers to get frustrated by trying to get their writing edited by someone who is still working on writing complete sentences, and the other way around. By ability grouping, I know that partners are on roughly the same playing field and will be able to learn from one another.
Now you might be asking yourself how those lowest babies can edit when they are struggling to write a sentence, and this is my response to that. They get their ability based partner, but they also get a peer coach to work with the set of partners. My peer coaches are my kindest, most patient, students. They aren't always the highest writers, but I believe that this process is just as important to them to help them become those highest writers.
Now That We Know How....
Break Out Those Highlighters
The first time I have my students peer edit all they looked for was capitalization. After doing that for a while we added in punctuation, and at this point we are doing those plus spelling and asking questions about the piece.
By starting small students feel successful, and that makes them come back for more!
Have a Checklist for Students to Complete
The checklist above is the one I use with my students. You can grab a copy of it here if you think it will work for you, but even if it doesn't, I would recommend coming up with something. A checklist helps to guide students with their partners, because goodness knows no matter how many times we have done something someone always asks me what's next, and I just don't have time for that!
I hope that this post has been helpful! I would love to hear from you in the comments on what other writing struggles you are having. You never know, I might have a tip or two to share in the future!