By the time students reach this stage, they have written a story, shared it with their class, revised their story, and have had a content conference with an adult. Once the students have completed each of these steps, they are ready to work on punctuation and grammar. On this page are real-life examples of how we conduct the Self-Editing and Editing Conference with the Teacher phases of the writers' workshop process.
The students will be ready to edit their work once they have finished revising the content of their stories. It is very beneficial for the students to learn how to edit their own stories rather than having an adult do it for them. First, teach several editing strategies, and then ask the students to self-edit for title, author, paragraphs, quotations, and so on. At KDES and MSSD the students are given a form (below) to guide them through this process.
Once they finish editing their stories, the students place them in an editing box. The teacher retrieves the stories, looks them over, and gives comments. Students who are finished editing their stories should begin working on new stories while the teacher reads through their completed work. As the teacher finishes with a story, he or she should then set up an editing conference with each student.
Editing Conference with the Teacher
Each story in the editing box should be examined to identify at least two or three areas where the student did well. Then the teacher should identify at least two areas that the student needs to improve. Once that is done, the teacher should meet with the student to give feedback.
During the conference, the teacher should praise the student for all writing efforts that show improvement. The teacher should emphasize those strategies that the student employed in order to motivate the student to continue using those same strategies in other writing.
Following the praise, the teacher should point out those areas where the student needs to improve. The teacher must avoid any notion of changing the story but rather just explain the errors and give the student the opportunity to change his or her story. That way the student will more likely remember the strategies he or she used. A list of strategies, both successful and revision-oriented, should be added to the student's writing folders. That way the student will look back and make improvements on the next story before the teacher adds any additional strategies.
Looking through Travis' story, we see that he was employing several strategies correctly. He always started each story with a title. He also added illustrations, and within the illustrations Travis would add bubbles to provide even more information. He made the story very interesting and lively.
Travis' work required help in a few areas. His spelling, for example, needed some improvement. He could benefit greatly with help from a computerized spell checker, word wall, or help from other students or adults. Words like "bech," "aver," "wacth," and "popel" required revision. Travis needs more practice with his spelling as well as help with the concept behind some words such as "do" and "don't." He also must learn how to change certain words to the past tense ("did " and "didn't "). In addition, Travis needs to make sure that each sentence has a subject ("who?") and verb ("do?").
Travis and his teacher met to discuss his story. The teacher told him that he loved the fact that he had a title for his work. He reminded Travis that previously, he had no title. His teacher reinforced this with a laudatory, "That's great.... keep it up!".
His teacher then told Travis that there were several words in the story that were not spelled correctly. He asked Travis to go through the story and circle the words that he thought were misspelled. He found several words that needed correction and sought his teacher's help in finding the correct spelling. The teacher also requested that Travis put those words in his word box and practice spelling them later.
After that exercise, the teacher asked Travis to sign the story. He told Travis that he must have "who?" and "do?" and helped him revise the story accordingly. At the same time, the teacher helped him change the words to past tense.
After signing the story, Travis was ready to type the story into the computer and then publish a book.
We use mini-lessons to help explain the revision process if we see the same writing mistakes occur with several students. For example, if Travis, Charleen, and Mahalia needed help with paragraphs, we would give them a mini-lesson about revision strategies.
Remember that writers' workshops must include these components:
- 15 minutes: Mini-Lessons (teachers teach skills and strategies to children)
- 30 minutes: Writing (children work on stories, teachers and students give feedback/conference with each other)
- 15 minutes: Share (students and teachers give feedback to each other)
- The mini-lesson time is critical for helping children to learn new skills and then apply them to their writing.