I distinctly remember in 6th grade sitting across from my reading teacher and working on editing a paper. She told me I had too many “to be words” and I needed to get rid of them. My solution was to delete all of them from the paper. In case you are wondering, she did not think that was the way to solve the problem. Despite going to a great school, I never particularly did well with editing my papers. We would peer edit, and I would always struggle to give useful suggestions beyond the “I liked your paper.” I never really learned how to edit a paper. My big push this year is to improve the kids’ writing skills and how to edit a paper is vitally important. It doesn’t matter what job you go into, you are going to write, and you will be judged on your writing.
The problem with teaching how to edit a paper
There are a million things you can tell a person to look for in editing a paper. Here’s a short list I came up with as I brainstormed.
- starting words
- sentence length
- Kipling’s “Six Honest Men” (Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How)
- word choice
- spelling and grammar mistakes
- passive voice (the bane of my middle school existence)
I’m cutting the list off with six things, but you get the idea. The list can go on for awhile. What you are focusing on changes depending on the style of writing and how old your kids are. When I taught second grade in public school the focus was on capitalization and punctuation. I would hope by middle school the kids would have that idea down pat, but there are some days…
Printable Checklist with ideas for younger kids and older kids, in a couple of weeks this moves to the subscriber library.
Step by step how to edit a paper
For the purposes of this post, I’m writing about editing a paper for older kids. In the printable I’ve created has a checklist for young kids. For early elementary, you concentrate on capitalization, spelling, and complete sentences.
Now back to teaching those older kids how to edit a paper…
- Have someone else read it out loud. Someone else is the key part. When you read it out loud you will automatically correct the mistakes, and won’t catch them. This will fix the most egregious mistakes. As the other person reads it aloud circle the mistakes.
- Grab two highlighters and highlight the sentences. You are looking to see how long your sentences are and if you have varied your sentence length.
- Grab colored pencils and underline your adjectives and adverbs. How exciting are your words?
Have you gotten rid of the boring words? (said, good, bad, big, little) Be precise in your language.
This is part of the Homeschool How-To series.