Saturday, 19 March 2011 17:45

Tip #27: Improving Your Writing Workshop (Part 3 of 4)

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The Teaching Tips will focus on the topic of Writing Workshop for the next four weeks.

Week 1: Peer Revising
Week 2: The Writing Workshop Warm-up
Week 3: Four-Color Editing
Week 4: Written Reflections

Four-Color Editing

Editing is typically one of the most difficult stages of the writing process for students because it requires so much attention to detail.  For many children the task can be downright overwhelming simply because they are asked to look for so many different types of mistakes at the same time, i.e., capitalization, punctuation, paragraphing, dialogue, and spelling.

A few years ago I came up with a new approach that breaks down the complex task of editing into smaller, more manageable steps.  Since that time my students have become more willing, more enthusiastic, more successful editors of their own writing.  I call my approach “Four-Color Editing.”

  Each student needs a four-color ballpoint pen and an Editing Checklist.  I have uploaded a sample Editing Checklist into the “Classroom Resources” section of the website.  I have also pasted it at the bottom of this page for easy reference.

The checklist is divided into four different sections, with each section corresponding to a specific color of the pen.  For example, in the first section the students use the black pen as they read through their project searching for mistakes involving indenting and the punctuation of dialogue.  

In the second section students use the red pen as they read through their work again and search for run-on sentences and other mistakes involving commas and end punctuation.  Blue is the color students use in the next section as they read their work a third time and search for mistakes of capitalization.  I break down sections two and three even further by including specific occasions when commas and capitals are necessary.  I change these sections throughout the year to reflect the rules we are learning at the time.   

Finally, students use green to focus on spelling.  In this step I ask the students to point to each word and circle the ones they are not 100% sure about.  Then, the kids get dictionaries to look up these words.

The kids check off each part of each section as they proceed through the Editing Checklist.

New Teaching Tips appear every Sunday of the school year.



Name_______________________________    Date__________________
                                               Four-Color Editing Checklist

Directions: Check off each line as you use your four-color pen to complete the Editing Checklist.

Black is the color for indented paragraphs and dialogue.
______ All my paragraphs are indented correctly.
______ I have quotation marks around all my dialogue.
______ All my dialogue sentences are correctly punctuated.

Red is the color for run-on sentences and other punctuation.        
______ I found and corrected all my run-on sentences.

I used commas every time I had:
______ Three or more items in a series
______ Cities and states (e.g., Santa Monica, California)
______ 2 sentences combined into one (e.g., I walked home, and I ate dinner.)
______ Numbers greater than 999 (e.g., 23,456)

Blue is the color for capitals.

I used a capital letter:
______ At the beginning of each sentence
______ For all names of people, places, and events
______ For the letter I
______ For days of the week and months of the year
______ For holidays and special events

Green is the color for spelling.

______ I circled all the words I wasn’t 100% about
______ I used a dictionary to correct all misspelled words.